But over the course of these two papers, I've learned some important things about the review process.
- Reviews can tremendously improve the manuscript. I guess that's the whole point.
- An individual reviewer can have a profound effect on the final wording and content of the paper. Everybody brings their own biases to the table - in terms of what is controversial or not, what needs detailed explanation or just a reference, etc. And, in the end, your manuscript reflects not only your own views and findings, but some piece of the reviewers' as well. See #2 as a corrolary.
- While it is helpful to both you and the editor to make recommendations of reviewers, be very very careful who you ask for. One of my reviewers has worked in the same geographic region using some of the same techniques, yet comes from a very different scientific starting point as me. (i.e., same types of data collected, but analyzed differently for very different reasons). This caused me literally a month of headaches, as I dealt with his/her comments.
- Some battles are not worth fighting. If you are going to disagree with one of your reviewers' major points, you better be prepared not only to defend it completely and convincingly, but also to concede a bunch of smaller points that you may still disagree with but not as vehemently.
- Shameless self-promotion is acceptable behavior on the part of the reviewers. Asking that their work be cited (even though it may be redundant or not all that innovative) seemed to be par for the course from all of my reviewers.
- Your figures are never good enough.
- Don't procrastinate in dealing with the reviews and don't pick all the low-hanging fruit first. Boy, did I learn this the hard way. If your reviews are going to require you to do some re-analyses, you better get started now. Just as writing the paper took longer than you thought, so will revising it. And leave yourself some easy comments for the end, because it can get rather discouraging to just slog through one depressing and frustrating comment after another.