You’ve worked really hard on this article. The subject is important to you. You have something important to say. It feels urgent.
This vision you have for the paper is extremely important. You know what you want to say even if you are struggling to say it clearly. That vision is still important after you submit the paper and receive reviewer comments.
Reading reviewer comments always elicits an emotional reaction. It’s easy to lose sight of the vision you had for this paper when you submitted it. You can descend into self-doubt and then let the reviewers suggestions guide the revisions.
You are still writing the paper.
This is just another stage of revision, with the added input from experts in your field who have taken the time to review and comment on it.
Reviewers vary considerably in how well they communicate their criticisms. Many go right to proposing solutions without clarifying what the problems are. And their solutions might take your paper in a direction you have no interest in going.
You need to take the reviewers comments seriously. You also need to stay true to your vision for the paper. That might mean doing some sleuthing to figure out what the problems are before you can decide whether the proposed solutions are the right way forward or whether you need to find another solution for that problem.
Start by reminding yourself of your vision. Use your vision to determine your own priorities for feedback and to interpret the feedback you have received in a way that keeps you centred as the author of this paper.
I offer a class, Dealing with Reviewer Comments, which helps you navigate this process taking your emotional reaction into account. I’ve also written a short guide Peer Review, now available as part of a 2 book bundle with Scholarly Publishing. Explore a free sample of my Short Guides or purchase the ebooks here.
Edited and recategorized 24 Sept, 2015, final paragraph updated when it was added to the Spotlight on Peer Review in October 2022.