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Playing the Publishing ‘Game’: Making the Most of Reviewers’ Comments

Bethesda, Md. (August 24, 2017)—Reviewer comments on a scientific manuscript may seem critical and personal to authors, but they are generally well thought out and meant to enhance the understandability and integrity of the paper. Douglas Curran-Everett, PhD, editor-in-chief of Advances in Physiology Education, acknowledges the challenges of receiving review comments and offers tips to achieving more positive outcomes when submitting scientific manuscripts. 

Curran-Everett describes scientific publishing as “The Game of Publication.” He offers insight into what reviewers are looking for in a manuscript and strategies for separating the scientific value in reviewer comments from what can sometimes feel like personal criticisms. Curran-Everett also addresses how to decide when to argue a point and ways to simplify responses to reviewer comments.

Strategies include:

  • Employing storytelling in scientific writing: “Organize the conceptual building blocks of your scientific story so the reviewers know where they are headed before they arrive: You want the trail to be marked clearly. If the reviewers lose the trail, they can find it again, but they will have wasted valuable energy in so doing. And they are likely to ask that you rewrite the manuscript so the trail is obvious,” Curran-Everett wrote;
  • Addressing potential or unclear issues before the reviewer does;
  • Producing a meticulous manuscript free of typos and formatting inconsistencies;
  • Focusing on the science in comments rather than the tone; and
  • Using comments to improve your paper, but standing your ground when appropriate.

Read the full article, “The thrill of the paper, the agony of the review,” published ahead of print in Advances in Physiology Education.

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Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.



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