When you first start writing manuscripts for publication you may think that one or two revision rounds will be required before the paper is ready. You send your `final version` to your supervisor expecting to receive it back with only minor comments and be able to submit it soon. In reality, however, it may take 20 more revision rounds and six more months before you can push the submit button.

Needing a lot of revision rounds does not mean you cannot write

The many revision rounds and your writing struggles are not evidence that you are not a writer and cannot write. Writing is a skill that you can develop, not a personality trait. Those struggles are just normal steps in the writing process. Everyone is struggling. It is important for beginning academics to know that everyone writes 20 or 30 drafts, and everyone gets hundreds of comments back from supervisors and/or coauthors. Lots of revisions and comments are normal.

Remember that your advisor is also investing time in those revisions. So, while it is intimidating, it shows that they care about helping you hone your skills and that your career is important and worth their time and effort. You should take lengthy comments and lots of comments and suggestions positively. All those comments are, in fact, a sign that they care about you and your work. Constructive feedback is support.

Seasoned writers, such as your supervisor, also write 20 drafts of a manuscript, a grant application, etc. But they do it before they send it to their coauthors for their comments, so nobody sees all those drafts. It is not a question of right or wrong. It is just part of the process.

`Accept all changes` is the enemy of learning

It would be wise for supervisors to put all suggestions in the comments in the margin (preferably on paper!) and not in the track changes because the `accept all changes` button does not teach the writer anything. For teaching, it is required to talk about why a particular change is suggested. This costs more time and effort from the supervisor but will be beneficial to both. Only when time is short, such as when a deadline is approaching for a manuscript that really is nearly finished, track changes can be used to speed up the process.

Another reason why using track changes in combination with the `accept all changes` option is not advisable is that not all suggested changes may need to be incorporated. A more mature writer should be able to choose not to include a proposed edit and to clearly defend that decision.

Revisions after submitting your manuscript

After submitting your manuscript to a journal for publication you will likely encounter one or more rounds of revision, depending on the suggestions by the reviewers. Those revisions will further improve your article. You can read about that type of revision and how to handle it here.

If you need help with any part of the writing process, check the other blogs I wrote.

revision rounds
how many rounds of revision before it is final? (Picture by Jorge Cham from PhD Comics)