Written by Shyam Menon, MD, FRCP, PGDip(Epid), PGDip(Nutr Med), Consultant Gastroenterologist at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, New Cross Hospital, in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.
Peer-reviewing an original paper is an exciting and rewarding process. Before I decide to accept a paper for review, I ask myself if I am the right person to be reviewing it and if I have enough time to set aside for the review. Upon receiving the paper, I check immediately if all files listed in the manuscript have been attached and can be opened electronically. I make a note of the submission deadline and set out a plan for the review with a deadline to complete an initial draft within a week.
A quick read through the manuscript is useful to get a “feel” for the manuscript. It also informs me how extensive I would need to plan my literature search and facilitates a subsequent detailed analysis of the paper. I give myself plenty of time for the literature review and the editorial team can assist in obtaining a particular reference from the author if needed.
In my first draft, I put down my initial impressions of the manuscript and organize and expand upon these in my final draft. I avoid commenting on each section of the manuscript as it can look monotonous and instead, provide an overall commentary, aiming to be constructive and specific, with references and suggestions to strengthen the paper. After completing my final draft, I re-assess it again after at least a day or two to make sure that I am satisfied with the final version before I submit it.