When reviewing a paper, try to keep the following in mind:
- Read the paper fully, making notes about what is clear and what is not.
- Note technical issues, such as
- Are there experiments or analyses that should be done (or reframed)?
- Do the authors describe new methods? If yes, how do these methods compare to existing methods?
- Note stylistic issues, such as
- are the figures and accompanying legends clear?
- Spelling/grammar errors
- Are acronyms used excessively and without justifiable reason?
- Are there any missing or incorrect citations?
When formatting a first draft of a review, create two sections, one focused on the Major Points:
- Write 2-3 sentences on the major goals of the paper
- Assess whether the paper accomplishes those goals in separate paragraphs
- For each major goal, focus only on the major issues that deal with data quality and data interpretation
- Each major issue should be its own paragraph
- State the major successes of the paper.
- “The major success of the paper is in developing a new model for side chain conformational heterogeneity”.
- State the major weakness(es) of the paper (if any).
- “The major weakness of the paper is that the model proposed is not tested”.
- Write 1-2 sentences on the place/impact of this paper in the field.
and one focused on Minor Points:
- List all minor technical questions you have
- It is important that you distinguish between things you think are done incorrectly/incompletely and things that are not explained clearly enough for a reader to understand.
- List all minor stylistic issues
- JF’s tend to focus a lot on clarity, but it’s great to have a reviewer who is eagle-eyed for all issues
- Note any parts of the paper you do not feel like you are able to assess
- “A significant part of the paper relies on a sophisticated analysis of mass spectrometry. I cannot offer expert feedback on the technical merits of this part of the paper.”