Clearly one of the immensely joyful experiences of being in academia, is being on the receiving end of reviewer comments.

Responding to the reviewer comments can be tedious — if you’re a word (shudder) user, then no doubt you’d use track changes. But generally, you’d also respond to the requested changes in some form of a response letter. (At least, that’s what I do.)

Those of us using latex/markdown and some form of version control can make this process really easy — you just need to set up your git comments in a structured manner.

I respond to one comment at a time. When I’ve made changes, I commit them, and use the commit message to track these changes. I have the header of the commit message which reviewer I’m responding to, then use marks to signify the reviewer comment, and my response. Something like this:

Reviewer 1

** Figure 2: you should include ...

*** We do not agree with the reviewer on this point. This is because ...

One all the reviews are done, it’s really easy to scrape them all out using git log and some grep-fu. For example, you can list out all the comments by Reviewer 1 like so:

$ git log --grep="Reviewer 1" --pretty=format:"%s%n%n%b"

This formats the log using %s, the subject (header) and %b the body, of the commit message.

Of course, it’s much more efficient if you extract all these changes, for each reviewer you have, and export to word (shudder) using pandoc:


# Script to retrieve responses to reviewers from git commits.
# Must be run in a git repository (should check...)

# Exit if no arguments were provided.
[ $# -eq 0 ] && { echo "Usage: $0 [number of reviewers] [output name]"; exit 1; }

# Arguments are: number of reviewers, name of output file

echo "# Responses to Reviewers Comments
" > $

for (( n=1; n<=$1; n++ ))
    # First, extract the comments.
    echo "Extracting responses to Reviewer $n"
    echo "
## Reviewer $n
" >> $
    git log --reverse --grep="Reviewer $n" --pretty=format:"%s%n%n%b" >> $

    # Now, note that reviewer comments start with 'Reviewer X', so delete those
    sed -i.bak '/^Reviewer/ d' $

    # Now, the way I structure the git comments is to have * in place of #
    # This is because # in git commit messages gets ignored.
    # Replace * with # (doing the hard way in case there's extra of these characters floating around)
    sed -i.bak 's/^\*\*\* /\#\#\# /g' $
    sed -i.bak 's/^\*\*\*\* //g' $

    # Finally, convert the markdown to docx
    pandoc -o $2.docx $

# Remove backup
rm $