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7. Writing the Review

Elements of the Review

The Opening Summary

The opening summary is critical, both to establish yourself as an expert in the field and to communicate to the author what you understood their paper was about.

  • Since your identity will remain confidential to the authors, you need to convey your expertise so that the authors will value your knowledge and your critical feedback. The best way to establish your credibility is to provide a concise summary of the manuscript’s key findings and the authors’ claims in your own words.
  • Your summary of the paper will also let the authors know how successfully they communicated the main points of their work.
  • Your first sentences should not include judgements about the validity or quality of the work. Rather, you should neutrally state an overview of the problem the authors are addressing and then restate the author’s claims about what they have determined through their research.
  • Your summary should also include brief descriptions of the key experiments and their results.
  • At the end of your opening summary, include a few sentences that place the work in context of the known literature and address the technical soundness and significance of the work, if those are part of the journal requirements, to lay the foundation for the detailed comments to follow.
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