A 2015 study of 4,000 academic papers showed that peer review is still the most trustworthy characteristic in publishing. Despite the shift from print to digital publications, researchers still trust the judgment of their peers over other factors.
On the other hand, it can feel stressful to read other academics’ comments on your work. You’ve spent hours conducting studies and reviewing literature—only to have that effort critiqued afterwards. But accepting that criticism through the peer review process in research and applying that feedback is a crucial skill as an academic.
The peer reviews process is essential as publications use it to regulate the quality of their published content. By inviting experts in relevant fields to review and critique any research submitted, readers can be confident the data is verifiable and trustworthy. In most cases, these reviews are conducted and submitted independently, and will suggest any necessary revisions for the paper to meet the high standards of academic publishing.
Once you’ve received feedback from a peer review, you may be stuck wondering: What should you do now?
It can be overwhelming to go through such in-depth critics from established professionals in your field, but it’s part of the process. If you’re just starting out and unsure what to do, here’s how to go about the post-review process. Plus, we’ve got some tips on accepting feedback from your academic colleagues.
What Happens After You Get Peer Review Feedback?
The peer review process in research usually involves three steps:
- Submission:Authors submit their articles to a journal.
- Peer Review:Articles are sent to reviewers who evaluate them and provide feedback.
- Revision: Authors revise their papers based on the feedback they receive.
There are three common types of peer review for publication. Single-blind reviews mean the authors of the paper do not learn the names of the peer reviewers providing feedback. Double-blind reviews indicate that neither the authors nor the reviewers know each other’s identities. And finally, open peer reviews mean both authors and reviewers know each other’s identities. Usually, there are 2-6 reviewers selected to review an article.
Regardless of the type of reviews you’re getting—you need to be ready for some criticism. During the revision process, reviewers will check your writing for compliance with the journal’s guidelines. They will also make additional suggestions to improve the quality of your paper. These could include further changes, clarifications, or improvements to the research methodology used in your study.
The overall goal of this process is to convey any errors or mistakes present in your manuscript. Once you get back your paper, you will then be expected to make changes in line with the peer reviewers’ feedback. After you’ve made the necessary changes, you will send your article back to the reviewers for another round of feedback.
How to Accept Peer Review Feedback
On rare occasions, journals will accept studies and papers without any changes. More often, though, they will ask for revisions—whether minor or major—before taking your submission. They will turn over the critiques and edits to you in the form of peer review feedback.
Once you’ve received that feedback, it’s time to get back to work. Set out a straightforward process for handling that feedback and revising your paper.
1. Assess the Feedback
Before anything else—remain calm. It may feel frustrating to have your hard work picked over, but remember that the reviewers are on your side. They want you to publish the best version of your paper and they aren’t out to get you.
Read over the feedback once to get a general idea of what you need to improve upon. Then reread it, this time carefully, so you can assess the comments more thoroughly. Note any major revisions first as those will be the most important ones to address.
2. Create a Plan
After receiving feedback from your peer review, it’s essential to stay organised. Start by taking stock of all the comments. Then, decide which are necessary revisions you need to make versus the more extraneous ones—modifications that are “required” versus ones that are simply “optional.”
Once you’ve made a list, it will be easier to prioritise critiques crucial to editing your research. Dedicate the majority of your time to critical revisions, then work your way down the list to ones that simply refine your work’s quality. After all, there’s no sense proofreading and tweaking the grammar of an entire section just to have to cut it anyways.
3. Stay Open-Minded to Constructive Criticism
Do not reject or ignore critiques simply because it’s frustrating. These peer review process steps are there to help you improve your paper—not to discredit it. Even if you hired an academic editing service before submission, your work might still need polishing.
Take note of every comment and ensure you have a response for it, whether it’s a revision or an explanation of why the change is unnecessary. It may sound tedious, but it will help when you resubmit your work for the second round of feedback. The peer review process is collaborative and you need to communicate with your reviewers in the same way they communicate with you—clearly and professionally.
Of course, not every critique needs to be taken into account. Sometimes criticism is not constructive or is unnecessary, and so you don’t need to incorporate every comment made on your research. After all, you know your work best. And sometimes, a little scepticism is healthy.
You can’t please everyone and the peer reviewers might disagree amongst themselves, so focus on the feedback that you think is the most valuable.
4. Ask Specific Questions About the Feedback
If you’re even a little uncertain about a comment, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you hired your own peer reviewer through an academic editing service, contact the reviewer for clarifications regarding the critiques that they made. This will help you better address these critiques and understand the reasoning behind them.
5. Outline Specific Actions for Revision
Following your list of essential and nonessential revisions—plus any clarifications on the feedback you received—start planning your next steps. You may decide to revisit your experiments and studies to gain additional data, or double-check the data you already collected. If it’s an academic article based in the humanities, then you could search for more relevant literature to bolster your research.
Having a concrete plan of action will also help you during the second round of feedback. Plus, you can explain why you made specific alterations or dismissed certain comments.
6. Don’t put it off!
Lastly, perhaps the most obvious—and most important—piece of advice is this: Don’t procrastinate on your peer review feedback. The longer you leave it, the less time you’ll have to make edits and revisions. Instead, act promptly to maximise your time, and use all resources available at your disposal.
Find Quality Peer Reviewers for your Academic Paper
No matter how much work they take, peer reviews are indispensable. It’s one of the last steps in publishing your research paper or scholarly article—it’s a key step in creating a polished and articulate academic paper.
By refining your work, you make it the best it can be.
But finding peer reviewers can be difficult if you have to do it yourself. That’s why there are expert peer reviewers and editing services out there to help.
At Flowcite, we provide academic editing services that help you express your research in the most engaging, comprehensive manner. We also connect you with top-quality peer reviews to make your writing shine.
Plus, our expert editors can also help you spot technical and formatting errors in your writing that you’ve overlooked, or unintended plagiarism that could impact your credibility. Flowcite also has an all-in-one research and writing platform that can help you with everything from collecting resources to finding peer reviewers.
Refine your research with Flowcite today for the best possible results with your academic papers.
Content Marketing Strategist
Brittany is a Content Marketing Strategist at Flowcite, and an outstanding academic writing expert. She holds a first-class Honours degree in Literae Humaniores from the University of Oxford and has been certified in Digital Marketing Analytics by the MIT Sloan School of Management.