The Importance of Revisions and Improving the Quality of Scholarly Work

By Lindsay Wertman on Sep 28, 2021

This piece contains insights from our Expert Editorial Team, including Lindsay Wertman, Managing Director, and Alexis Miller, Journal Development Coordinator.

While the peer review and revision phase in academic publishing may seem tedious, exhaustive, unnecessary, and time consuming to many scholars, what many don’t fully understand is how helpful and critical it is ensuring the highest level of accuracy, integrity, and quality for published research results. When a manuscript undergoes peer review, authors can benefit from constructive feedback provided by other experts in the field – oftentimes feedback that discusses the positives and the negatives of the piece with recommendations on how to further improve it. For authors, reading through these remarks and recommendations and then having the opportunity to make changes to the work, can significantly improve its readability
and value.
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While many authors value feedback from their peers and appreciate the opportunity to further expand and improve their work, it is not uncommon to see authors who opt not to make any revisions or listen to reviewer commentary, and that is their prerogative, but it is important that editors and/or publishers managing the project have an in-depth understanding as to why the authors have made such decisions. The revision process should be viewed as an extension of the peer review process, and equally
as important.
What are the Best Practices for Revision?
Assessing Reviewer Commentary: It is very important that the Editor of a publication (or an appointed Managing Editor) is closely assessing and reviewing comments made by the Editorial Review Board members and the Associate Editors (in the case of a journal) or the Editorial Advisory Board or Chapter Peer Reviewers (in the case of a book), as well as assessing the entirety of the text itself. They should be highly cognizant of what sort of feedback the authors of submitted chapter or journal article manuscripts are receiving from those appointed to peer review the work. The reviewers should be performing quality reviews, and if the commentary being provided to authors is too brief, unhelpful, or derogatory, the Editor should be prepared to take the necessary corrective action. At the same time, if the comments are supportive and detailed those reviewers should be
recognized appropriately.
Requesting Revisions and Author Willingness: IGI Global recommends that Editors ask for revisions from most of their authors, even if they are very minor revisions. It’s extremely unlikely that any manuscript will be 100% perfect and not require some level of editing before it moves toward final publication, even if it’s only a matter of formatting adjustments or adjustments needed to adhere to submission guidelines. In our 30+ years of experience, we have found that many authors do wish to perform some sort of revisions on their manuscript before publication. The peer reviewers of the work should have provided detailed commentary for the author(s) both in an evaluation form and sometimes also within the manuscript document in the form of track changes and/or comment bubbles. It is the author’s prerogative how in-depth they wish to go with their revisions, but at the same time it is at the discretion of the editor(s) and the publisher whether the final submitted work is deemed to be acceptable and publishable.
Revision Deadlines and Timelines: Editors should be ensuring that authors are provided enough time to make revisions, but not so much time that the project ends up delayed. As soon as the review process concludes and a preliminary editorial decision is made, the author(s) should be provided with the reviews and then, if the decision is to have them revise, full revision instructions should be provided to them along with a revision deadline. Reminders should be sent to any author(s) with outstanding revisions and no final decision should be made on a manuscript until there is clarity as to whether or not the author(s) intends to make some, or all, requested revisions. Typically, the revision process should not take any longer than 1-2 months, and all parties should be executing their responsibilities in the timeliest manner possible to ensure that the work is released while it is still relevant.
Evaluating Revisions and Revision Notes: When an author submits a revised manuscript, it is the editor’s duty to assess the work in accordance with the comments the work received and the publisher’s submission guidelines. Editors are encouraged to send the revised manuscript to another party for review (in the case of journals an Associate Editor who would have likely already reviewed the original version of the manuscript and played a role in the revision decision or in the case of books a Co-Editor or Managing Editor) to provide comments on the updated manuscript or conduct a full assessment of the revised manuscript based off the reviewer comments. This process ensures that the revision has addressed all issues. When an author submits their revisions, the Editor is expected to assess the submitted work within a two-week period and provide a formal decision once the revision is satisfactory. Authors should be providing detailed responses to the reviewers’ commentary in the form of revision notes. This not only makes it easier to ensure that the Editor(s) or another party can determine if the appropriate revisions were made (and if revisions were opted not to be made, the logic behind that decision), but it also ensure that the authors are looking at all reviewer commentary, thinking critically about it, and then providing their responses to such commentary.
How to: Submitting Revision Notes
The ways in which Editors, publishers, and different publications request and manage revision notes can vary. Revision notes are ultimately documents that show the Editor and publisher how the document has changed from the original to the revision based on the reviewer comments. IGI Global recently updated its submission guidelines regarding revision notes. It is now recommended that revision notes, also known as “responses to the reviewers”, are placed directly within the revised manuscript document, either at the beginning or the end. Editors are encouraged to assess the revisions and/or send the revisions to an additional party for assessment, to ensure that the authors have addressed all of the reviewers’ comments. Please see IGI Global’s submission guidelines for more information.
How Should Revision Notes Look?:
Revision note requirements can vary from publisher to publisher, however, at IGI Global, the following is acceptable:
  1. A table or list of updates that the author(s) did to the manuscript based off the comments from the reviewers.
  2. The revisions of the manuscript marked with track changes, comment bubbles, and/or highlights showing where the changes were made.
  3. A list by the author(s) that states what was changed and where in the manuscript document those changes are.
  4. A “response to reviewers” document that basically lists all the comments of the reviewers and the author’s response to those comments.
Oftentimes, authors will provide a combination of all the items mentioned above. Revision notes are really just basically a document that tells the Editors and publisher that this is what was changed from the original to the revision. Editors are then recommended to comb through the document (or send the revision to another party such as an Associate Editor or Managing Editor) so that they can ensure that the changes that were made are also cohesive in the entire manuscript.
Editorial Decisions: IGI Global recommends that Editors do not reverse their decisions. Editors backtracking on their revision decisions can create tremendous problems in the publishing process, especially in cases where an Editor requests revisions, and then abruptly decides to accept the content when revisions are not received (or while awaiting the revisions). If a manuscript is in the revision requested phase, then it should stay there until the manuscript receives those revisions. Should a manuscript be accepted after not receiving revisions by the due date or be accepted while pending revisions, this could create a perception that the review and revision process is rushed and not that important, and authors may question the integrity of the double-blind peer review process. IGI Global’s academic publications strive for the highest level of integrity and accuracy in our published content. We want to ensure that authors are interested in publishing with our edited publications and that they are willing to follow our processes to achieve the best and most final version of their manuscript to be published.
Potential of Acceptance: Based on authors’ experiences there is a high probability of a manuscript being accepted following revision (greater than 50%), especially if the author(s) properly address the reviewers’ and editors’ commentary.
Proofing Process: Once content passes through the review and revision stages and is accepted, it is processed through to the publisher’s layout, formatting, and typesetting processes and in the case of IGI Global, there will be an author proofing process to provide authors a last look at their final manuscript before publication. It’s important to note that the proofing process is intended for small changes and should not replace the revision stage. Full revisions of manuscripts from the authors or editors are not allowed during this phase and instead should have been completed much earlier within the editorial phases of the project.
So, in closing, the best advice ultimately to authors is to be open to the review and revision process; consider it a great collaboration opportunity between experts and a wonderful way to improve and progress your work. For editors, the review and revision process should be considered a crucial step in ensuring that the work published in your book or journal is at the pinnacle of quality, integrity, and accuracy.
About IGI Global

Founded in 1988, IGI Global, an international academic publisher, is committed to producing the highest quality research (as an active full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics “COPE”) and ensuring the timely dissemination of innovative research findings through an expeditious and technologically advanced publishing process. Through their commitment to supporting the research community ahead of profitability, and taking a chance on virtually untapped topic coverage, IGI Global has been able to collaborate with over 150,000+ researchers from some of the most prominent research institutions around the world to publish the most emerging, peer-reviewed research across 350+ topics in 11 subject areas including business, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences, and more. Learn more about IGI Global here.

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