Reviewing Papers

As you submit academic papers throughout your career, you will inevitably rely on the generosity and wisdom of other researchers and scientists to peer-review your work. This can sometimes be a harrowing or demoralizing process, but it also has the potential to enhance and improve your research with the feedback you get. On this page, we will give you some tips on being this reviewer, and provide some resources for further reading.

Overview

Always accept. First and foremost, especially as a young researcher, you should always accept any review requests you receive. Usually, the most common excuse is that people will say they're "too busy" to review. Academia would crumble if too many reviewers were "too busy" to review the manuscripts that are submitted. Reviewing is an academic obligation, and besides, it's an important skill to develop as a budding researcher.

However, don't accept a review outside of your field. When you receive a request to review, sometimes the committee has misunderstood your area of expertise. Don't accept reviews for papers outside of your field when you have no idea of the discipline. The authors would benefit from a more informed opinion.

Read the guidelines of the venue. Whether it's a journal article or a conference submission, be familiar with the aims and scope of the journal you are submitting for. Make sure that the article you are reviewing fits the criteria!

Be forgiving of ESL writers. If the paper is obviously written by a non-native speaker, be forgiving of this fact and don't reject a paper solely on these grounds. You are welcome to suggest that the manuscript is reviewed by a native English speaker, but review the paper for its content and overall presentation, not low-level English skills, as these are easily addressed.

Make sure the authors have covered appropriate literature. Situating your work within the literature is a huge part of motivating your research (see: Writing Literature Reviews). Make sure that the authors have sufficiently done so — unfortunately, sometimes work is repeated because the literature has not been sufficiently reviewed beforehand.

External Resources

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