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Constructive review examples.

August 18, 2020.

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Examples of constructive feedback. Details matter!

I am working on this over time – catch up with me on Twitter @amy_tabb.

Example 1. The scenario: a paper that does not identify what the contribution is, or identify how the work relates to other methods.

Reviewer 2 might write: “You did nothing.”

A constructive review:

I was unable to determine what the contributions of the paper were, or how this method relates to existing methods. The introduction mentions methods X and Y for this task Z, but how exactly does this method solve problems that X and Y do not? I did look for this information, through text or an enumerated list, and was unable to find it.”

References: Basic submission checklist # 9.

Example 2. The scenario: the paper is complete, but the reviewer is excited about some potential experiments and new papers out.

Reviewer 2 might write: “This paper needs evaluations on benchmarks X, Y, Z and also needs to cite these recent papers.”

A constructive review:

These suggestions are for the authors’ information only, and it is not necessary for the authors to respond to any of these points. I was interested to see the experiments with dataset A, and was curious to see how well this method would do on benchmark X. Additionally, while reading this paper I thought benchmarks Y and Z, which were not originally constructed for the task in this paper, are related and I think that this method could be applied to those tasks with some alteration.

There are some very new papers out that may be relevant to this work, [ citation ], [ citation ], [ citation ].

References: Reviewing Tutorial, Suggestions; arXiv paper explainer, # 4.

Example 3. The scenario: Great Britain versus USA, just with spellings.

Reviewer 2 might write: “There are too many typos. Minimize->minimise, among->amoung, color->colour, optimize->optimise, etc..”

A constructive review:


References: Reviewing Tutorial, Typographical errors and writing style (second paragraph).

Example 4. The reviewer is an expert and can only see the failure cases.

Reviewer 2 might writes 2-3 pages about the general field, and goes into great detail about the failure cases.

A constructive review:

Strengths : [summarize the things that the paper does well.]

Weaknesses : [ if the paper did not list any failure cases, mention that there are frequently failure cases with class of methods X, and the paper would be strengthened by an identification and discussion of these failure cases. Examples of failure cases are A, B, and C.]

Suggestions. These suggestions are for the authors’ information only, and it is not necessary for the authors to respond to any of these points. [ If the paper did not discuss failure cases, the reviewer can put some of their commentary and thoughts about extraneous issues here. ]

References: Basic submission checklist # 13. Remember, research is not a zero-sum game.

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