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"Thank you for your critical comments and helpful suggestions": compliance and conflict in authors' replies to referees' comments in peer reviews of scientific research papers

Author(s): Hugh Gosden

Journal: Ibérica
ISSN 1139-7241

Volume: 3;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2001;
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Keywords: peer review | scientific discourse | genre analysis | systemic-functional linguistics

Peer reviews of research papers submitted to journals are an "occluded" genre (Swales, 1996) - referees are usually anonymous and the confidential reports themselves are not part of the official record of research publication. Thus, compared to the published, readily available genres of the academy, there are few opportunities to study gatekeeping discourse such as peer reviews, nor are there many opportunities for novice researchers to practice framing appropriate and effective point-by-point replies to criticisms. This paper is part of a study based on the analysis and functional description of comments from a corpus of referees' reports and authors' replies. The data highlight the importance of authors being able to recognize and interpret the relative interactional/interpersonal vs. technical/ideational orientation of requested revisions, in order to revise successfully their papers after peer review. Research on publication productivity in the sciences has emphasized the importance of early productivity as a strong predictor of future publication (Fox, 1983). When young scientists take up their first academic position, publication levels are initially more affected by the productivity of the pre-doctoral years than by the prestige of the new department and institution. In a "reinforcing process of advantage" (Fox, 1983:293), those who have published early will often continue to do so for several years until the supportive research environment of their present location will more strongly affect continued productivity.
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