Dear Professor Mean, I’m trying to publish a research study that involves some survey data, but the peer-reviewer is complaining about something I did. There was a scale that I used that had five items, but because the survey was already very long, I used only three of the five items. The peer reviewer seems to think that I arbitrarily chose these three items after looking at the data. How should I respond?

Let’s be honest here. Your choice of which three questions to use was arbitrary. You didn’t run a formal data analysis that showed that a three item scale has just as good psychometric properties as a five item scale.

So just say in the methods section that you needed to shorten the survey and the choices as to what items to remove was made based on the subjective opinion of a subject matter expert (yourself).

Then when the excessively picky reviewer (in my opinion) rejects your paper, send it to a different journal.