Then, right in the Introduction, you can often recognize whether the authors considered the full context of their topic.
After that, I check whether all the experiments and data make sense, paying particular attention to whether the authors carefully designed and performed the experiments and whether they analyzed and interpreted the results in a comprehensible way.
The responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
I consider four factors: whether I'm sufficiently knowledgeable about the topic to offer an intelligent assessment, how interesting I find the research topic, whether I’m free of any conflict of interest, and whether I have the time.
For every manuscript of my own that I submit to a journal, I review at least a few papers, so I give back to the system plenty.
I've heard from some reviewers that they're more likely to accept an invitation to review from a more prestigious journal and don't feel as bad about rejecting invitations from more specialized journals.I usually consider first the relevance to my own expertise.I will turn down requests if the paper is too far removed from my own research areas, since I may not be able to provide an informed review.First, I consider how the question being addressed fits into the current status of our knowledge.Second, I ponder how well the work that was conducted actually addresses the central question posed in the paper.If the answer to all four questions is yes, then I’ll usually agree to review.I am very open-minded when it comes to accepting invitations to review.Then I look at how convincing the results are and how careful the description is. The parts of the Discussion I focus on most are context and whether the authors make claims that overreach the data. I want statements of fact, not opinion or speculation, backed up by data.Most journals don't have special instructions, so I just read the paper, usually starting with the Abstract, looking at the figures, and then reading the paper in a linear fashion.(In my field, authors are under pressure to broadly sell their work, and it's my job as a reviewer to address the validity of such claims.) Third, I make sure that the design of the methods and analyses are appropriate. I also pay attention to the schemes and figures; if they are well designed and organized, then in most cases the entire paper has also been carefully thought out.First, I read a printed version to get an overall impression. When diving in deeper, first I try to assess whether all the important papers are cited in the references, as that also often correlates with the quality of the manuscript itself.