How to Revise and Resubmit Rejected Manuscripts: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Elizabeth Oommen George
How to Revise and Resubmit Rejected Manuscripts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Manuscript rejection can be hard, but it’s almost expected when you’re competing with thousands of other researchers trying to get their work published. While there are multiple options for researchers after manuscript rejection, most usually choose to prepare a revised manuscript and work to submit it either in the same or different journal. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and dejected, it’s essential to approach the revision and resubmission process with a constructive mindset. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you revise and resubmit a rejected manuscript.

Table of Contents

Analyze and understand the feedback received

Carefully review feedback and critique shared by peer reviewers and journal editors explaining why your manuscript didn’t make the cut. Be sure to keep your emotions in check and view the feedback objectively to identify constructive suggestions for improvement. Understanding the exact reasons for manuscript rejection will help you take the appropriate remedial measures.

Develop a manuscript revision plan

The second step is to organize the feedback into priority levels, categorizing them into major concerns, medium-level issues, and minor problems. This will give you a clear picture of the amount of changes needed and allow you to address major concerns first before moving on to the minor issues. It helps to create a checklist based on the feedback so you don’t miss out on anything and can ensure that each point of concern is systematically addressed.

Revise the content in your manuscript

This is an opportunity for you to enhance your work, so pay special attention to areas that need improvement. Refine your introduction and research questions to clearly convey the significance of your work. Clarify your research methods, enhance data presentation, and address any statistical concerns. Strengthen the discussion section by addressing reviewer questions and incorporating additional relevant literature.

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Enhance writing for clarity and coherence

Once you’ve incorporated all the changes in the content, review the text and make edits to correct language and grammar, spelling, punctuation, and any wordy or complex sentences. Ensure the manuscript is well organized and written in a consistent style to improve overall clarity, coherence and readability.

Address any ethical or technical concerns

If the feedback from the reviewers and editors raised any ethical or technical concerns, ensure that you take that into account. Resolve any technical problems such as formatting, referencing, or citation errors and do a check to ensure your revised manuscript complies with all the required ethical guidelines. Experts suggest seeking feedback from colleagues or mentors before finalizing the revised manuscript; this can help identify any issues that need to be addressed before resubmission.

Do a final reformat and proofread

One of the most important points is to ensure that your revised manuscript adheres to journal guidelines. If you plan to submit revised manuscripts to a new journal, your work may require substantial changes to align with the new journal’s formatting and submission guidelines. Do a final proofread to eliminate any grammatical errors, typos, and inconsistencies you may have overlooked.

Provide a comprehensive response letter

It’s important to respond to feedback shared, so create a detailed response letter by acknowledging the suggestions for improvement received. Clearly outline how you have addressed each comment or concern raised by the reviewers or journal editors. If you choose not to implement a suggested change, provide a well-justified explanation in your response letter.

Highlight changes in the manuscript

One of the most helpful things when resubmitting revised manuscripts is to highlight the changes made to allow for easy scan and checks by busy editors and reviewers. You can choose to use track changes in your word processing software to highlight revisions made to the manuscript based on the feedback shared and include a summary of major changes made in the response letter.

Create a compelling cover letter

It’s important to have a cover letter when resubmitting your work after manuscript rejection. In the cover letter, succinctly communicate the significance of your work, mention the major revisions made in response to the feedback shared, and thank the reviewers and journal editors for the constructive suggestions and the opportunity to revise and enhance your work. These details can help convince the journal editor and reviewers that the revised manuscript is worth reconsidering.

Submit your revised manuscript

Sometimes, journal editors provide you the option to revise and resubmit your manuscript, which means they are willing to re-consider your manuscript if you appropriately revise it based on reviewer comments. However, if the journal editor is not ready to reconsider your manuscript again, your next best option is to move on to submitting it to a new journal. In both cases, you will need to submit the revised manuscript through the journal’s submission system following their specific instructions. Ensure you submit all the required documents, including the revised manuscript, cover and response letters, and any other documents requested by the journal.

Be prepared for possible reiteration

Despite submitting a revised manuscript, you need to recognize that there may be additional feedback in the review process. So keep your mind open to the possibility of future iterations and address additional revisions as needed to ensure your work is accepted for publication.

Approaching the revision and resubmission process methodically and professionally increases the likelihood of acceptance, whether you’re submitting to the same journal or a different one. Each round of revision brings your manuscript one step closer to publication. Revising and resubmitting a manuscript takes time and effort; by following these steps above, authors can increase their chances of acceptance and move closer to publication success.

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