Publications seek to match the topics covered in an article submission with potential peer reviewers who are experts in those topics. After identifying potential reviewers, the publication will send out invitations to review that include information about the submitted article such as the title and abstract to help the invited reviewer determine whether or not to accept the review invitation.
When you receive a review invitation, you should consider whether you have sufficient expertise in the article’s subject area and whether you can complete the review by the deadline provided in the review invitation. If the answer to either of those questions is “no,” you should promptly decline the invitation. Suggestions of other potential reviewers are always appreciated.
If you decide to accept the invitation, follow the instructions in the email to signal your acceptance; you will subsequently receive additional information on how to access the article and conduct review. Most publications use an online submission system to facilitate peer review.
Once you have accepted the review invitation and gained access to the article, begin to evaluate the article with the following questions in mind:
- Is the study well designed and well executed?
- Is the existing body of relevant work acknowledged?
- Are the results interpreted and reported correctly? Are all other possible interpretations duly considered?
- Are the results overly preliminary or speculative?
- Does the research contribute to the body of scientific knowledge in the field?
- Is the article appropriate for this publication?
- Is the article written in clear, concise language?
Follow the publication’s instructions for submitting feedback, suggestions, and a recommended decision. Remember that your commentary should always be thorough and professional.