Non-research article reviewer checklist

Use this checklist when you’re reviewing review, comment or any other article type not reporting original primary research.

Begin your review with a first read-through for an overall understanding of the paper by using the ‘first read-through’ checklist. Then proceed to a more detailed review with the ‘detailed review – non-research articles’ checklist. 

First read through

  • Is it clear what the authors want to communicate; can you understand the main aims and conclusions of the manuscript?  

  • Are the authors reporting any original research or new data which would make this unsuitable as a review or opinion piece? 

  • How much impact do you think the manuscript could have on how people think about this topic?  

  • How novel or innovative is the manuscript? 

  • Does the overall manuscript meet the standards of your field?  

  • Are you concerned about the phrasing, language or presentation? Are revisions needed to make it possible to review? 

Detailed review – Non-research articles

Please note that some of the points below may not apply to all articles. Take into consideration the field, as well as the focus and purpose.  


  • Does it express clearly what the manuscript is about? 

  • Does it contain the necessary keywords to make it “discoverable” by a reader in your field?

  • Does it contain any unnecessary description or jargon?  

  • Would it be clear to someone with language barriers?  


  • Is the abstract a short and clear summary of the aims and conclusions?  

  • Does it contain unnecessary information or undefined acronyms? 

  • Does it exaggerate or overstate the conclusions or their potential application/impact?  


  • Does the introduction clearly summarize the current state of the topic? 

  • Does it address the limitations of current knowledge in this field? 

  • Does it clearly explain why the current manuscript is necessary? 

  • Does it clearly define the aim of the manuscript and is this consistent with the rest of the manuscript?  

Main text

  • Has this topic been reviewed recently elsewhere? To what extent does this piece add to the discussion?  

  • Does it focus on recent advances in research?  

  • Does it present a balanced view of current understanding? 

  • Are any recent or important references missing? 

  • Is the interpretation and presentation of results of previous studies accurate and precise?  

  • Is it too focused on the author’s own research?  

  • Is it understandable for non-expert readers?  

  • Is the opinion of the author well-argued?  

  • Is the opinion based on current knowledge? If it makes a big leap from current knowledge, is this logical and well-evidenced? 

    Discussion and conclusion 

    • Do the authors summarize their overall conclusions? 

    • Are the implications of the findings for future research and potential applications discussed? 

    • Are any limitations discussed?  

    • Are any contradictory points discussed? 

    Tables and figures 

    • Are data and concepts presented in a clear and appropriate manner? 

    • Is the presentation of tables and figures consistent with the description in the text? 

    • Do the figure legends and table headings clearly explain what is shown? 

        Final checks – before you submit your report

        • Have you given a brief summary of the article as you understand it, and highlighted the key messages?  

        • Have you given positive/general feedback as well as constructive criticism?  

        • Have you made it clear which of your concerns are major (significant points, essential for publication) or minor (smaller issues, may not be essential for publication)? 

        • Are your concerns specific, with examples where possible? 

        • Have you numbered your comments and referred to page/ line numbers in the article to make it easy for the authors to address your points?  

        • Is your feedback constructive, and focused on the article content? 

        • If you were the authors, would you understand how to improve the manuscript?  

        • If you were the editor, would the comments be detailed enough to help you to make a decision? 

        • Have you checked the spelling and grammar in your report? 

        • Have you included your comments in the correct places in the online system – checking that any confidential comments for editors are in the right place – and have you answered all the questions?

        I still have questions

        Please read our extensive frequently asked questions for answers to common questions on reviewing a manuscript.

        FAQs before review

        FAQs during review

        FAQs after submitting your report