Preparing Response Letter for IEEE Transactions Academic Journal


You have received an email from IEEE Transactions editorial with the title that reads:

Major revisions are required for manuscript…,

If so, read this article to get through the rest of the revision process successfully and get your paper (academic journal) accepted in IEEE Transactions journal. A response ( rebuttal ) letter, is necessary in this situation.

I have published numerous journal and conference papers. Three of them were submitted and successfully published in IEEE Transactions on Antennas and propagation (IEEE TAP). In this article, I will discuss one of them. It will help you prepare your own response letter for IEEE TAP. I hope this can help you getting your manuscript accepted and published in this very reputable journal. Additionally, I believe you can use it for other IEEE journals or any other journal such as Elsevier.

PDF File for the Initial Submission
Initial Submission

As you can see in the PDF file above, my co-authors and I, submitted an original work with sufficient detail. We submitted it to IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation as we believed that it was most relevant to this journal. Particularly, since the paper was based on a theory that was initially presented in [9], chances were very high that the prospective reviewers could see its relevance to this journal.

After submitting the manuscript, you should receive a confirmation email such as the one I received:

Text File for Initial Submission Confirmation Email from IEEE
Initial Submission Confirmation Email from IEEE

Otherwise do contact the publisher to see what happened.

After 2 months from the day we submitted the initial manuscript, we heard from the journal with the email below:

First Review Email from IEEE

It is very rare for a manuscript to get accepted after the initial submission or even with minor revisions. I do not remember anyone telling me that their paper got accepted without having to go through Major revisions. So, if you have got such email, this is perfectly normal. In fact, you have now passed the first barrier to successfully publishing your paper in IEEE Transactions journal. So do not be bothered with disappointing sentences such as

“… your paper is not suitable for publication in the Transactions in its present form…”

Instead be happy with the following part that says:

“may be acceptable if revised according to the reviewers’ comments”

Now lets dig through the reviewers’ comments. By carefully studying the comments, it is realized that there are three types of requests:

  1. Multi-scale practical example: All three reviewers have requested for a multi-scale practical example. This was very interesting to me at the time since it never even occurred to me that reviewers might as for such numerical results. At the time of developing the theory and numerical validation, all I cared was to match the results with a trusted reference solution and adding a practical example seemed extra! Apparently I was wrong! Of course, I needed to discuss this issue with my adviser (Prof. Okhmatovski) and come up with an appropriate example.
  2. More explanations about some of the claims: These types of explanations need a little bit of more literature review and understanding. I typically prepared some note and then discussed them with the adviser to make sure they were ok.
  3. Minor typos, notations, etc: You can usually correct these on your own. Correct them and let your co-authors see them as they are proof-reading.

With the explanations above, below is the response letter we prepared for IEEE:

First Response Letter PDF file
First Response Letter

You can see that we tried to address all requests in the revised manuscript and highlighted the relevant text in the submitted PDF file. Not only that, we clearly mentioned all the requests in the response letter and how we addressed them in the revised paper. Remember, you need to help the reviewers as much as you can in the process of getting convinced that their concerns have been resolved. Use colors, italic font, quotations, etc. The revised manuscript + the above response letter was submitted to IEEE’s website:

First Revised Manuscript with Response Letter PDF file
First Revised Manuscript with Response Letter

We submitted the above revised paper a few days before the deadline that was granted by IEEE (120 days from the date of the first review email). From that time, we waited about 2 months until we received the following email from IEEE

Second Review Email from IEEE Text file
Second Review Email from IEEE

Essentially, they accepted the paper. I still feel very good when I read this! I hope you will get a similar email from IEEE soon. Subsequently, I submitted the last response letter as follows:

Last Response Letter PDF File
Last Response Letter

The final manuscript that we submitted upon acceptance was as follows:

Final Submitted Manuscript PDF file
Final Submitted Manuscript

Now, the last part is the proof. Below is the proof I submitted. You can see I did it using handwritten notes.

Proof PDF File

Finally, the authors’s version which looks very much like the final version, is given in the following page:

On the Equivalence of RWG Method of Moments and the Locally Corrected Nyström Method for Solving the Electric Field Integral Equation

Note that by IEEE rules, I have the right to post all the files given above. Notice that I am not sharing the final version. I strongly support sharing knowledge which results in advancing science and technology, but without copyright infringement. I believe scientific institutions such as IEEE are an important part of human research and development and we should all respect their rights.

Please let me know if you have any questions by posting it in the comments section.

Update – March 16th, 2019: I recently found this paper on how to review papers. Not only it is good for that purpose, it is also beneficial for authors as it sheds more ligh on the reviewers’ mindset. It is Open Access, so free for public