Step 1: Read the proposal

- use Track Changes and Comment bubbles to note immediate thoughts, typos, grammatical errors

Put it away for at least 24 hours (let your brain mull it over)

Step 2: 3+3+3 analysis

  • 3 things you liked
  • 3 things you didn't like
  • 3 things you didn't understand

- you may come up with more than 3 things in each category. If this is the case, sort them into Major and Minor concerns

Step 3: Rationale

- Write a 100-150 word summary of the rationale of the proposal

Step 4: Likes

- summarise your likes in a short paragraph, concluding by saying that you have identified a number of issues that the author might like to consider

Step 5: Dislikes/I don't understand

- make a list of bullet points
- describe your dislikes constructively and make suggestions for improvement
- most often your "I didn't understand" points are because the author didn't explain something clearly enough

  • it was unclear why....
  • the choice of X needed more justification
  • I would have liked to see....
  • the hypothesis relating to X came out of the blue. This area needed more coverage in the introduction
  • the author might like to look at research showing X to strengthen the rationale of the study
  • the author might like to consider the implications of research showing that.....
  • the section outlining statistical approach was not clear. While the statistics outlined test hypothesis 1 and 2 it was unclear how hypothesis 3 will be tested.
  • more detail was needed about the dependent variable that will be measured in X task

- remember that you are doing your peers a favour in critiquing their work, but they are under no obligation to take up your suggestions. They likely know the literature much better than you do and may disagree with your point. Be careful with the tone that you adopt.

Step 6: Minor issues

- spelling grammar
- typos
- missing references
- missing figures
- APA formatting

Step 7: Check your word count

- if you have more than 500 words, try and express your points more concisely or decide which of your points is most important
- put it away for 24 hours, then go back and read it again. Ask yourself, if you got this review, would it be helpful? If not, revise.

Step 8: Email your review to Jenny before 4pm on Saturday 8th Sept (yes I'm giving you an extra day)


  • being too general in your criticism. Be specific and make constructive suggestions.
    • statements like "I don't get the point of this study" are not helpful
      • why don't you get it? what has the author missed? do they need to cover extra literature to make it make sense? is there something about their design that you object to?
    • statements like "the background is wordy/doesn't make sense/is poorly structured/is illogical" are only sometimes helpful
      • you need to also make specific suggestions about how they can be improved
  • writing your review as a list of questions
    • it is fine to question the choices that the author has made, but make sure you backup your question with some reasoning about why you are asking it
    • e.g. "why did you choose to only include fear and angry faces?" doesn't really help the author see where you are coming from. But backing that up with "Has previous research looked at amgydala reactivity to positive emotions too? The author might like to consider whether the dysfunction is specific to negative emotions or generalised to all valences" makes the comment justified and useful.
  • focussing on the little stuff
    • it is better to pick a few major issues and have enough room to explain to the author how they might like to reexamine them, than to point out every missing comma and grammatical error (note the small stuff in minor issues if you have room).
  • being negative
    • you may HATE the idea, but you need to come up with constructive, objective, and scientifically valid reasons why you hate it, AND suggestions for how the author may make it better
    • phrase all your "dislikes" in terms of suggestions for improvement

More Revisions
Jul 20, 2012 11:09 am

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