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Ultimate List for Reviewing A Paper

First impressions

  • Is the research original, novel and important to the field?
  • Has the appropriate structure and language been used?


  • Is it really a summary?
  • Does it include key findings?
  • Is it an appropriate length?


  • Is it effective, clear and well organized?
  • Does it really introduce and put into perspective what follows?
  • Suggest changes in organization and point authors to appropriate citations.
  • Be specific – don’t write “the authors have done a poor job”


  • Can a colleague reproduce the experiments and get the same outcomes?
  • Did the authors include proper references to previously published methodology?
  • Is the description of new methodology accurate?
  • Could or should the authors have included supplementary material?

Results and discussion

  • Suggest improvements in the way data is shown
  • Comment on general logic and on justification of interpretations and conclusions
  • Comment on the number of figures, tables and schemes
  • Write concisely and precisely which changes you recommend
  • List separately suggested changes in style, grammar and other small changes
  • Suggest additional experiments or analyses
  • Make clear the need for changes/updates
  • Ask yourself whether the manuscript is worth to be published at all


  • Comment on importance, validity and generality of conclusions
  • Request toning down of unjustified claims and generalizations
  • Request removal of redundancies and summaries
  • The abstract, not the conclusion, summarizes the study

References, tables and figures

  • Check accuracy, number and citation appropriateness
  • Comment on any footnotes
  • Comment on figures, their quality and readability
  • Assess completeness of legends, headers and axis labels
  • Check presentation consistency 
  • Comment on need for colour in figures