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An improved version of the Drafts Review Matrix – responding to reviewers and editors’ comments

This 2018 I promised myself I would do things better and take time to reflect on how my processes have evolved and therefore, I wanted to share a couple of improvements I made to the Drafts Review Matrix I discussed in previous years. This time, I’ll share also a couple of things I do with regards to the process of responding to reviewers and editors’ comments and dealing with Revise-and-Resubmits (or rejections that I then resubmit to a different journal).

Workflow: Finishing a paper

First, a comment on process, which I believe was lost in previous discussions: when I am dealing with comments from book editors, or reviewer comments, I create a Drafts Review Matrix, which I often print out, and fill out by hand, but I now generally work online off the printed version of the comments. Also, I ONLY work at my desk with the materials associated with the R&R or edited chapters: the printed version of my paper, and a grid paper notepad (a graph notepad).

AcWri setup

You may ask yourselves, why don’t I work the edits off my Everything Notebook? The answer is this: I use this graph notepad to jot down ideas on how I’m going to deal with specific comments, or to note which references I need to search, and then I use those comments to fill the Drafts Review Matrix. Since those quick scribbles are an intermediate step to actually revising the manuscript, I don’t want them to fill up valuable (and scarce!) pages off my Everything Notebook.

The new Drafts Review Matrix looks something like I show below.

drafts review matrix for Tosun Howlett

This particular one is for a book chapter I’m writing for a book on national policy styles edited by Mike Howlett and Jale Tosun. As you can notice, I put the title of the book editors at the top, but you can do this for journal article manuscripts that you are revising (substitute Reviewer 1, Reviewer 2 or Reviewer 3 at the top).

Note that my Drafts Review Matrix now has both a “Page” AND a “Reference Paragraph” column. This allows me to be even more precise than I used to be with the Comment Location column. I then follow with the “Reviewer/Editor Suggestions“. I also included a “Deadline” column to force me to commit myself to finish particular sets of revisions by a certain deadline. Moreover, I now use a “Check” column to confirm that I’ve completed the revisions suggested. And finally I’ve added a column of “Comments” because sometimes I need to do things sequentially, and this column allows me to explain to myself what I’m doing. For example, in some cases, I’ve already moved text around, and I need to make sure that I avoid duplication of efforts.

Hopefully my new version of the Drafts Review Matrix will help if you’re editing a paper (or a book or thesis!).

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