- Skim the paper to get the basic argument.
- Read the paper very carefully, making notes on things I do not understand, do not agree with, and technical details I need to think about.
- Get away from the manuscript and think hard about it.
- Convert the notes from step 2 into a list in a document that will be the ‘bones’ of my report.
- Start writing a summary paragraph about the paper into that same document, and the summary paragraph will lead into my overall discussion of the paper in the report.
- Edit the document into a coherent report. The final report includes a paper summary, a discussion of my overall views of the paper, and a page by list of questions and comments.
- Get away from the report and think it over again.
- Reread and edit the report again.
- Write the letter to the editor.
Sometimes steps 6-8 get repeated many times. All this takes me between one and two days, unless I can figure the paper out really quickly.