PLOS Peer Review Toolkit
Write like a Reviewer
We know that preparing your first peer review can be daunting, we also know that time is your most precious commodity. Read on for a very brief guide to getting your review done and follow the links for free templates.
“We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way.” — Holt
Last issue you learned what the journal needs from you and how to read like a reviewer. Now, use your reviewer notes to start writing the review. Structure your review like this to make it quick and easy for the editor and authors to understand your points.
Peer Review Structure
1. Start with your summary
A brief summary of the research helps the Editor understand your overall perception quickly before getting into specifics.

Try it:
Summarize the main research question, claims, and conclusions of the study.
Describe where this research fits in the context of the existing literature.
Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript and your overall recommendation.
2. Major and Minor points
Use your reviewer notes to write up major points that the author should address for the manuscript to proceed further. This shouldn’t include any major additions or experiments that would fall outside of or expand on the scope of the present study.

Next write up any minor points that are important to improve the manuscript, but may not affect the overall conclusions.
3. Reflect
Don’t submit your review straight away, take a break before having a final read of the review before you submit it. At this stage you might re-phrase some of your comments, or re-order them. Don’t spend too long, but do make any edits that will make your points clearer.
If you’re having trouble explaining the problem or writing your feedback in a constructive and respectful way check out our suggested language for tricky situations.
Always try to be: methodical, constructive, objective, knowledgeable, considerate and clear.
Offer to help your supervisor with reviews. This is a good opportunity to get experience and feedback on your writing.
Let the journal know when you collaborate on a review so that you get credit.
Next issue we’ll close out the year by sharing some of your ideas about the future of peer review and some suggested reading!
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