Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Little secret on how to write better rebuttals after harsh reviews

What do you feel when you receive the comments from reviewers of an article you submitted, and they ask for major revisions? What if you feel their comments show a weak reading of your work?  Most of us feel upset and demotivated. I understand and experience the same feelings. The question is: how can we work on a rebuttal to increase the chances of having the article accepted fast and without a second review?


I admit reading reviews is stressing. My heart beats faster. I lower my eyebrows every time a comment doesn’t make much sense. And throw my arms in the air – if nobody is around – in despair when critics are unfair.

Lately, I had an experience where I thought – “how can I write a rebuttal which demotivates the reviewers from making more comments?” – I know my intentions weren’t the best, but guess what, with that attitude, I discovered something insightful.

There is one little secret to write a rebuttal to your paper’s reviewers comments that dramatically increases the chances of not going through a second review or eventual rejection.

You may feel the temptation of making your replies short to the reviewer’s comments.

Don’t! This is the…


Little secret.

Make them as long as possible. Lengthy rebuttals invite further detail, and there are two advantages if you do it.

  1. Detailing demands focus. The process of detailing a reply will induce you to focus hard and be substantial on improving the part of the article that raised doubts.
  2. Long rebuttals mean effort. Most reviewers feel you took the time and effort to change your article and improve it if they see lengthy responses to their comments. Occasionally, this increases your chances of having the editor accepting you paper without going to the reviewers.

If you’re going through the review process of your article right now, try this little secret. Maybe you feel the little secret is obvious, but often procrastination diverts us from this path. Be resilient.

P.S. – Starting today I accepted Jeff Goins challenge of writing a post every day for 30 days. This is part of a “practicing in public” approach to writing and sharing my experiences and thoughts with people like… you 🙂 Hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing!

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

One Reply

  1. Great idea! Like this little secret:-)

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