Don’t be afraid of writing a peer review

Published by Access 2 Perspectives on

In his blog Green Tea and VelociraptorsJon Tennant describes his approach to writing a peer review

[…] I remember the first time I got a review request in the second year of my PhD. An Editor emails you out of the blue, and asks you to provide your expert commentary on research by your colleagues. EXPERT COMMENTARY. BUT I’M NO EXPERT. PANIC.
Well, you are an expert to some degree. Which is why they emailed you in the first place. []

Jon provides you with a general template as the basis for drafting your referee report. Adapt the template to the journal’s layout.

Key points to consider

  1. Be thorough. Go through every sentence, write down every thought or query you have. It all helps.
  2. Be extra thorough. Go through it all a second time, maybe a third, after taking a break from it.
  3. Don’t be a twat. Researchers are still people you know, no matter how often they come across more like rat-cyborg-zombies. Be courteous.
  4. If there is something good, highlight it. Don’t be afraid of telling someone they did well.
  5. If there is something bad, highlight it. Don’t be afraid of telling someone they made a mistake.
  6. Think about the kind of feedback you’d want, and provide that.
  7. […]

Read Jon’s full post at and check out the Peer Reviewer’s Openness Initiative.

‘You never said my peer review was confidential’ — scientist challenges publisher

Open-science advocate says journals should be clearer to peer-reviewers about terms and conditions.

Nature 541, 446 (26 January 2017) doi:10.1038/nature.2017.21342