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3Rs: Reviewing, responding, revising

This section tells you  about the various stages through which your article goes on its way to publication.

Sub-sections:  Up ] Ms evaluation ] Coaching ] Responses ] Revising ] Etiquette ]
notes on authors' responses to reviewer comments in the ms.

Draft & final

In this Guide, the term:

  • draft refers to versions (v1, v2 or v3) of a manuscript that have been submitted for possible publication and that are going through the review process;
  • final (f) refers to the version an article that is (to be) prepared for the publisher.
  • If no distinction is made between these two versions in this Guide, then use the guide line for both types.

The version of your ms is indicated in both the ms ID and the subject line of emails (eg, "000_v2_Yourname_..." or "000_f_Yourname_...").  Be sure to update the v number when you send in a new version.

Author-suggested reviewers

In the body of your email for v1 (first version) of your draft, include three or better four suggested reviewers.  Provide the following information (elements in blue are mandatory):

  1. Name, affiliation, contact email, web page;
  2. Keywords indicating the person's areas of interest and expertise;
  3. A note indicating that you have obtained agreement from the reviewer to do a review.  This means that you have to contact the reviewer before you send v1 and their contact details.  Obtaining explicit agreement considerably shortens the review time.
    • Some reviewers just do not respond (even after several reminders), some do a review after some prodding, some accept, but then need several reminders.  Some, fortunately, do a good review, without needing reminders.
  4. A short description indicating how good you think the person is (good = reliable, thorough, conscientious, encouraging, knowledgeable and practiced in simulation/gaming, including debriefing if that is relevant to your ms).  Remember that a good reviewer will help you to produce a high quality article.
  5. A few words indicating your relationship with the person (e.g., not personally known, acquaintance, worked closely in recent years, colleague in the same department, recent co-author).  It is ok to send names of colleagues who know your work, or even of previous co-authors.  However, you cannot send names of people who have worked with you in any way on the submitted article (they should probably be authors), or maybe on related articles, with the same or similar data set.
    • However, it is also good to keep in reserve (not choose as a reviewer) a highly critical colleague to give you direct feedback to polish up the final version.

Pls make sure that your suggested reviewers are:

  • Reliable = they do the review that they agree to do, and they respond in a timely manner;
    • If they are not reliable, it will considerably lengthen the review time for your article;  You should seek agreement from them beforehand.
  • Thorough = they do a thorough review, not a skimpy one;
  • Knowledgeable =
    • they know discipline of simulation/gaming/debriefing fairly well,
    • they know the special field of your article,
    • they are well versed in scholarship protocols (such as research methods, statistics if necessary, etc.);
  • Positive = they focus on helping the author to do a good article.

Note that reviewers cannot come from the same institution as an author, and no more than two reviewers can come from the same country (or state for USA) as an author.  Thus, if the two authors are from U of Mercantour, France, and U of Dolomiti, Italy, then no more than two reviewers can come from France and Italy.  In other words, the 3rd and 4th reviewers must be from outside France and Italy.  It is ok if a reviewer knows (of) your work.

The editor (or guest editor) may or may not ask one or more of your suggested reviewers.

Exclusive submission; no withdrawal; editing service if needed

In the body of your cover letter (email) for v1 (first version) of your draft, include a clear note that indicates:

  1. that your article is being submitted exclusively to S&G, and that it will not be submitted to another journal or edited volume during the review process, until such time that the article has been rejected by S&G,
  2. that you will not withdraw your article without prior and express permission being given by S&G, and
  3. that you agree to making the necessary language/writing/style revisions to bring your ms in line with good scientific/academic discourse, and that you agree (should the need arise) to hire the services of a professional editing serviceSee examples here.


It is extremely rare for a manuscript to be accepted outright.  One or two revisions are the norm.  The maximum number of times that a manuscript can be reviewed is three.  If reviewers' evaluations of version 3 of the manuscript remain negative, the article will be rejected.

The more closely you follow this Guide, including any necessary discussion of debriefing, the greater the chance of your article being accepted.  In similar vein, the more you incorporate the suggestions made by the reviewers, the greater the likelihood it has of being published.


Manuscript evaluators are normally given six weeks to review an article, but can take longer (especially over academic holidays).  Other things (e.g., my absence) often add another month or so.  In all, you can expect to get reviews back within three months.  This time can be considerably lengthened if this Guide is not followed exactly.  Of particular importance here is to use the correct ms ID on every email that you send.


All submissions, drafts and evaluations are done by e-mail.  Do not send your ms by ordinary post.  Put elements in the places indicated, for example, abstract in body of email, not in an attachment, for a ms ID request.


Your article will be reviewed by two or three evaluators.   The ms evaluation criteria are available for you to see, so that you know on what basis your article is being evaluated.  Once all evaluations have arrived, the editor will write to you, in one of five ways.

  1. Invite you to prepare the final version.  This is very rare.
  2. Suggest that you to revise the article and prepare an improved version of your draft ms.  Revision here ranges from major to superficial.  After the first revision, you will probably then move to the coaching review process.
  3. Ask you to submit a much shorter version for inclusion in the R&C section.
  4. Ask you to withdraw the article and submit a completely new one at some future date.
  5. Reject the article completely.

Versions 2, 3 and f - Revise well

If you are asked to prepare a new version (v2, v3 or f) of the first version of article, you need to take full account of the commentaries provided by the reviewers and the editor.  After you receive reviewers' comments on v1, it is probable that you will continue development of your article with the coaching review process.

Here are some very sound tips -- the page is reproduced here:  revise.htm

Author response and revision sheet

When sending back your next version of the article, you must include an author response and revision sheet.  This contains the reviewers' comments, along with your (the authors') responses.  It also provides reasons why you did not follow certain of the reviewers' suggestions.

If the reviewers' commentary is very long, then you may summarize, but it must include the main ideas from the commentary.  You should summarize the changes that you make for each comment, especially of substantive comments.  Formal changes (e.g., spelling, grammar, etc.) do not need responses.

If reviewers have made susbstantive comments inside your ms word file (e.g., using the track changes function), then you need to copy them to your ms word file, and respond.

It is good practice (substantively and respectfully) to make it easy for reviewers to understand what advice you have implemented and why you have not followed their advice.  It is perfectly legitimate for you not to agree with a reviewer, but it is also legitimate for a reviewer to expect some form of explanation.  See examples of reviewer commentaries and author responses.

NB.  Place your author response and revision sheet at the start of your draft (v2 or v3) and also your final ms, inside your Word file attachment, so that reviewers can read it before they look at the revised version of your draft.

Put your responses at the start and in the same file as your ms, both draft and final.  Do not send your responses in a separate file.  Please do not do anything other than what is indicated just above, such as attaching a separate file (with track changes) or a different type of file (such as a spreadsheet).

You may do your author responses in one of two ways (depending on what seems clearer and on what format the reviewers' comments are presented).

Reviewers' substantive comments that they insert directly into their attached commented ms word file should be extracted and inserted into the above author response and revision sheet, and then placed at the start of the next version of your ms.  Examples of reviewer commentaries and author responses are provided here.

 Do NOT use all caps for your responses or reviewer comments; upper case sentences are very difficult to read!!  Use only lower case sentences.

Reviewers, quality, respect

You should also remember that reviewers' work often goes goes largely unsung, without public recognition -- only the most enlightened universities fully recognize the invaluable work done by reviewers.  Reviewers' main satisfaction comes from seeing authors revise their articles well.

Reviewers generally put much effort and time into their evaluations; they try to be encouraging, concrete and specific.  Their main concern is the quality of the journal, which derives essentially from the quality of your article.

Sometimes reviewers may seem rather harsh.  However it is wise to keep in mind that they do put in much time and effort, first to read your article, second the think about how it might be improved, third to write a commentary that will help you the author to improve.  Be grateful for reviewers' help.

In revising your article, therefore, it is in the interest of everyone to follow the advice of the reviewers and editor as far as possible.  The prime objective is to improve the quality of your article (and ultimately that of the journal).  You will not wish to have an article of yours published that is not of the highest quality possible.

However, less academic and more relational issues are also at stake.  One of these is respect for the hard work that the reviewers have put into supplying you with help, help from which you, not they, will benefit.  Thus. if you chose not to follow their suggestions, then you need to justify this (see Response & Revision Sheet above).

If you have been pleased with reviewers' help, make a point of expressing this in the acknowledgements at the end of your final version.  If your reviewer was first 'blind' and then became 'coaching', then you may express this something the lines of: "grateful to NN, first as blind reviewer, and then as coaching reviewer".

Again: & revise.htm

Final version

At some point you will be asked to prepare a final version of your article.  The editor may require certain revisions to be made from a previous draft version.  Other formal changes (such as inclusion of bio-statement and publication agreement) are explained in the ms layout and the example ms sections in this guide.  If any pieces are missing in the final version, you will be asked to supply a whole new package (not just the missing piece).  Always use the check_final.htm

Publication agreement

With your final ms, you must include a publication agreement.  Each author must sign an agreement.  Your ms will not be processed further and sent in for typesetting until the publication agreement(s) has (have) been received.  You (and your co-authors) must send your agreement(s) directly to the S&G Production Editor at Sage Publications, by post or by fax.  Only send this at the time that 


Some while after your final manuscript has been sent to the publisher, you will receive page proofs.  It is essential to correct the proofs within three days and return them to the editor or the publisher as indicated.

If your contact details change or are likely to change during this period, it is vital to notify both the publisher and the editor.  Your article will not be published until the corrected proofs are returned to the publisher.  If necessary your article will be pulled from an issue and held over until a later date (which may be several issue later).


About 40% of articles submitted to S&G are rejected, either at the outset (version 1) or at some point in the review process (versions 2 or 3).  The main reasons for rejection at the outset are as follows.

  • The article has not been carefully prepared according to this Guide,
  • Authors have not consulted previous issues of S&G, so as (1) to learn the scope and spirit of the journal and (2) to learn about some of the essential literature of the field,
  • The substance of the article is insufficiently developed (e.g., statistics invalid, insufficient literature review, no reference to debriefing, insufficient support for logic used, mistaken causal relations).
  • The writing is ungramatical, unclear or disorganized.
  • Rejection of versions 2 or 3 often result from insufficient revision.

Friendly advice

Authors are thus strongly advised to do the following before submitting an article.

  • Follow this Guide carefully.
  • Write clearly; organize your material well; use principles of good writing.
  • Consult previous issues of S&G.  They can be consulted in a good library, or they can be ordered from Sage Publications.   Ask your library to subscribe to S&G and to purchase several back volumes (at least the last 6 or 7 years).
  • Make sure that you include debriefing fully and where relevant.
  • Make sure that the substance of your article is valid, well founded, logical, etc.  See evaluation criteria for more precision.
  • Obtain feedback from colleagues on your drafts, on both clear writing and content.