10+ Tips for reviewing research papers



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Reviewing manuscripts is something that you will have to do a lot while being a researcher and an academic. You have to learn doing it quickly but efficiently and correctly. There are some rules that you need to comply. Try not to be emotionally loaded or linked with the authors and the paper (there should not be a conflict of interest).

First of all, you need to understand what they are trying to do and why. What is the purpose of the paper. Then you will need to study the area a bit, especially if it is not your core expertise, so that you know what is the state of the art. In theory you should already know that, but you can refresh your mind with some studying. At that point I would start the first thorough review which is where the study has been implemented at the right level. This is base don the methodology followed and how that compares with other research. Does this methodology match the question. Have they used the right approach in the experimental or numerical work to cover correctly the analysis? Literature cited (balanced and fair, inclusive rather than exclusive but having a good reason to be there). Data processing to support the statement (Statistical analyses). Validity of the study and limitations. Are the results generalised or very specific and how are these discussed? Sufficient detail so that it is reproduced, open access data available, codes available and whether information is missing.

The second review process, which is not something you should definitely do, but I would do only if I want to help the paper since it is worth publishing after minor or major amendments.

Ultimately the review process is not there to judge the paper, neither solely to help improving the paper. There is not standard form of giving the reviews, neither length. Perhaps, the more the merrier. But defiantly, writing only a couple of short paragraphs does show that you are not willing to do a review, thus you should have not accepted the invitation. Most reviews are blind, but I would recommend you to write your review comments as if the authors knew who you are. So that you do a more balanced and sentiment-free job.

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