In the past, I reviewed articles and gave a cursory review, such as the quality of the article, ease of reading, etc. These elements are important, but as I am writing more academic articles, such limited approaches do not do the full justice to the editor and the authors, while contributing to my loss of learning something. The goal of the peer review is to identify if the paper contributes to the body of knowledge and creates value for those who will read its content. As I am reviewing more papers, I developed my own checklist regarding a peer review paper, but there is a process of learning to critically read, process and review what I have read.
Here is my current list, which will change over time. It’s a good reference point for me. I hope you found some value in the work and I did provide a few links at the bottom I found helpful in preparing this post.
Before Reading the document
Preparing the review process
Download any instructions from the journal/group you are reviewing.
- Paper formatting, length, graphic elements
- Print out the article and any related materials
- Put the paper’s due date on your calendar
- Put time on your calendar for the “Initial Review”, 2nd review and Review Composition
The “Initial Review”
- With the printed text in front of me,
- Look for any disclaimers, etc., related to the paper
- Read the conclusion
- Read the abstract
- Skim the paper
- See if the title, abstract and conclusion describe the same paper!
Questions to Ask
- Do I have the skills, knowledge, etc., to review this paper? If not, tell the editor ASAP!
- Do I have a conflict of interest with this paper?
- Do I have time to read this paper?
- Is this paper worthy of publication?
“The 2nd Review”
Now the work begins:
- Reread any notes from Initial Reading
- Read the conclusion
- Read the paper from start to finish, actively marking up the paper
- Look for two references that may be of interest.
- See if there are any works of interest that should be referenced.
What to Consider As One Reads Each Section:
- Was the research question properly explained?
- Did the article contribute to the overall body of knowledge? If so, in what way, and was the explained effectively?
- Did the literature review reflect current research trends? How old are the citations?
- Was the Methodology sound?
- Any questions concerning how the researcher addressed questions of data quality, data availability, data gaps, etc.?
- Any significant or factual errors?
- How well did the results support the methodology?
- Did the paper end strong, ie, did the author maintain his interest in the paper as it was finished?
- Was the paper well-written?
- Where graphic elements correct? Quality, labels, etc.?
- Any unclear language?
Overview of the Paper
- Is the paper internally consistent? Does major flaws exist in the structure, conclusions, methodology, etc.?
- Any factual errors
First Draft of the Review
Open a Word document and put in the following outlines
- Author Notes
- Editor Notes
- Paper Sections
- General Comments
Create a Paragraph to the author
- Thank them for effort
- Summarize article
- Discuss what was successful. What were the strengths of the paper
- Discuss areas of improvement
Create a paragraph to the editor with the following elements:
- Thank them for asking to review the paper
- Summarize the paper’s details and conclusions
- Report your recommendation on the paper
- Write as specific as possible concerning your comments
- If possible, page, paragraph, to facilitate review of your comments
- Try to focus on constructive criticism to improve the paper and assist the editor in understanding your thoughts
Second Draft of the Review
Take the time to review what was written before it was submitted.
- No one wants to hear you mention their quality when you did not have the same rigor on yourself!
- Make sure there are no special characters that will be corrected when moved between different applications (such as wingdings, Greek characters, etc.)
- Submit the article and retain a copy of your remarks in your filing system.
The following template was developed to remind me the goal is to improve the quality of the research to the best of my ability. There is no way I will know all there is to know, but by following a template, I hope the quality of my reviews will improve as well as improving my critical reading skills.
Resources used to create this list:
Bill Walker Reviewing A Journal Article
Wright State University
And one youtube video from Navigating Academia