How to tell a reviewer they are wrong?
January 10, 2013 7:07 AM Subscribe
I am an academic, and I need advice on how to word my response to a review for a journal article.
posted by pamplemousse of love to Work & Money (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My reviews were generally positive and called for only minor revisions (yay!). However, one of the two reviewers made two comments about what are basically style issues. In the first case the reviewer said I formatted something incorrectly, according to the style manual. However, I have looked this up in the style manual, and I did it correctly, and the reviewer was incorrect. In the second case the reviewer objected to a wording choice, saying it was not the preferred style. But once again, I checked both the style manual AND previous articles in this journal, and there is support for using the wording I used (the style manual specifically says it is preferred in order to avoid awkward wording and passive voice).
So I am obviously not going to make the first change, since it would actually be technically incorrect, and I don't want to make the second change either, because it would make my paper sound worse, not better, and the reviewer's assertion is not supported by the available evidence.
My question: How can I word my response to the reviewers (which I have to include with my revisions) so that I don't come off as sounding snotty when I explain why I am not making these changes? I am worried that saying "I checked these points in the style manual, and what I did was correct" or something along those lines is potentially going to come off wrong to an anonymous peer reviewer who holds my fate in his/her hands. How do I tell someone they were wrong without making it sound like I'm saying "you were wrong?"