How to Review a Scientific Paper

by Barak A. Pearlmutter

Purpose of this document

This document is intentionally brief. It is intended as a combination checklist and reminder. For more complete overviews of the review process, see the delightful document linked to in the acknowledgments, and the references therein.

This guide is not meant to be a straight-jacket, but rather something to turn to when you don't know how to start writing your review, or to check when you're not sure whether you've finished it.

What is in a review?

A scientific review consists of two parts: a confidential cover letter and the anonymous referee's report.


This document was inspired and influenced by A guide for new referees in theoretical computer science by Ian Parberry. To quote: ``Desirable traits in a referee include objectivity, fairness, speed, professionalism, confidentiality, honesty, and courtesy'' and ``Before submitting a finished report, a wise referee asks ``Would I be embarrassed if this were to appear in print with my name on it?'' ''
Barak Pearlmutter <>