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Outline for Reviewers

Outline for Reviewers

Step 1: Identify the topic of the paper you are reviewing

Step 2: Read the abstract

Step 3: Complete a quick PubMed search to see the recently published literature, if needed

Step 4: Read the paper with specific questions in mind

  1. Are there additional pieces of info that should be included?
  2. Are there flaws in the authors’ rationale (methodology, interpretation of data, or conclusions)?
  3. Are there unanswered questions which out to be addressed?

Step 5: Write your review. It is helpful to include both general feedback and specific feedback to the authors

  1. Providing general feedback
    1. Introduce the paper and its objectives
    2. Provide an overview of your opinion
    3. Main strengths and weaknesses
    4. Originality, relevance, timeliness, and impact
    5. Provide a recommendation
  2. Providing specific feedback on sections of the paper and how the author could improve those sections. Please see the sections below for suggestions and tips

Article Title

Does the title accurately convey the contents of the paper?


  1. Appropriately summarize the paper?
  2. Clearly stated objectives?
  3. Type of study/ general study design obvious?
  4. Key data provided?
  5. Consistent with the authors’ messages throughout the paper?


  1. What is the manuscripts hypothesis?
  2. What are the primary and secondary aims?
  3. Give a clear background to the questions raised, rationale, and intended outcomes of interest?
  4. Appropriately identify the current state of knowledge and use appropriate references?
  5. Provide justification of the need for the study?


  1. Clearly stated type of study and details of the design?
  2. IRB/IACUC statement of approval
  3. Rationale provided for
    1. Type of study chosen
    2. Definitions/numerical cutoffs used
    3. Time points selected
    4. Inclusion and Exclusion criteria
  4. Outcomes of interest defined
  5. Was there a sample size calculation made?
  6. What type of statistical analysis was made and was it appropriate?
  7. Are descriptive statistics appropriate for the study sample?
  8. Was a statistically meaningful result defined?
  9. What additional tests/data would have been useful as part of the methodology?
    1. Are all the employed strategies useful?
    2. Would others have helped?
    3. Is a proof of principle warranted?


  1. Provide answers to all the questions from match organization of methods section
  2. Convey important endpoints/outcomes in the body, in addition to tables & figures
  3. Provide numerical values in terms of both number and percentage & provide ranges where relevant
  4. Have consistent results
  5. Have valid data analysis

Figures & Tables

  1. Do they clearly and effectively communicate the results?
  2. Are any unnecessary and should be eliminated?
  3. Should any be added to improve clarity or provide additional data?
  4. Tables & graphs: are statistically significant findings noted?
  5. Do they have the capacity to stand alone?
  6. Are they accurately titled and labeled?


  1. Does the author appropriately summarize the main findings of the study?
  2. What do the results mean?
  3. Clearly identify what new knowledge the study provides?
  4. Identify inconsistencies or unexpected findings, and do authors provide explanation?
  5. Identify the authors’ own limitations, and are any missing?
  6. Have an up-to-date literature review?
  7. Explain the relevance of the findings and how the paper can be used to move the field forward?
  8. Are the findings applicable to populations outside of the study? Do authors provide recommendations for specific application of the findings?
  9. Do the authors suggest what future studies they might conduct?
  10. Is there a clear and concise conclusions?
  11. Are the conclusions consistent with the results?

Overall writing quality

  1. Is the flow appropriate?
  2. Are the headings/divisions appropriate and clear?
  3. Does the paper need editorial review from a native English speaker?