Responding to Letters from Editors – Negotiating Conditional Reconsideration or Acceptance
If after submitting a paper you have been lucky enough to receive unconditional acceptance or unfortunate enough to receive a definite rejection, the path ahead is usually straightforward – comply with the journal’s needs and procedures in the first case and move on to another journal in the second.
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Negotiating Conditional Reconsideration or Acceptance
If the letter you have received in response to an article submission indicates or itemises problems with your paper, it may not be the news you were hoping for, but it is a good sign – the editor would very likely not have provided such details unless he or she thought the article interesting and valuable. Such a letter lies somewhere between acceptance and rejection, which makes it a potentially positive response, but also a challenge to deal with. It may be that the letter actually specifies that the paper will be accepted or reconsidered if the problems identified are resolved, usually within a certain period of time. In this case, you will need to decide whether the changes the editor has requested are appropriate for your work.
Whatever the problems might be, the editor’s requests will need to be considered carefully, ideally along with your own critical review of the article, and difficult questions about what to change and what not to change will probably need to be answered.
Once you have decided how to proceed, you will need to reply to the editor and explain your plans. You should begin by thanking him or her for the helpful criticism and making it clear that you understand the problems specified. If you have decided to make all the changes requested, you should explain what you plan to do to resolve each of the problems and assure the editor that you will be able to complete the revisions within the period of time indicated; if no time limit has been given, suggest one yourself (two to four weeks, for instance, would be both efficient and reasonable).
If the letter you have received outlines a number of problems but the editor does not explicitly say that your paper would be reconsidered or accepted if those problems were resolved, it would be advisable to determine that your efforts will in fact result in serious reconsideration before you go ahead with the changes and resubmission.
We provide a sample letter in Word format at http://bit.ly/1CBxf22, which will give you ideas about the format and help you word your own reply to the journal editor.
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