My first reviewing experience: Part III: Writing the report

By far, I found that writing the referee report to be the most time consuming and difficult part of the exercise; there are several reasons for that. First is that I generally tend to take more time to write; the second is that this is the first time I am writing a document of this type–though I have seen some when I got the referee reports for my papers, I was not sure if they are the best samples, nor did I know how much of editing was done to them before it got passed on to me. What I would have liked is to have seen some of the reports that people I respect a lot for their integrity as well as writing skills; unfortunately, the peer review system being what it is, I was not sure if it is a proper thing for me to ask them to show some of their reports. So, as I mentioned in my earlier post, I asked my mentors if they would be willing to read through mine and give me comments and suggestions; fortunately for me they were willing to. And, that saved the day. The third reason for the difficulty is of course the delicateness needed to put forth ones views on paper in a very compelling language but without looking like a jerk. I can only hope I succeeded!

In any case, my report consisted of two sections: a section with critical comments and a recommendation based on the same, and another with some minor corrections and quibbles which would help the authors improve the manuscript. While writing the report, I also kept in mind the tips from the editors of the journal, and tried to answer questions of originality, relevance and presentation.

Though there was an option for me to give some confidential remarks to the editor (which will not be passed on to the authors), both my mentors felt that all of my comments were such that they can be passed on to the authors, and so, that is what I did.

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