Receiving a request for feedback from an author is a great opportunity for you to help them with their work, showcase your expertise to the scientific community, and help push science forward. We've provided some guidelines to let you know why you are receiving requests for feedback from authors and how you can provide them with useful feedback on their preprints and other early-stage research.
Why am I getting feedback requests from authors?
Authors usually ask for feedback on their preprints and other early-stage work. They do this because they're interested in getting input from others to help them improve their work before they submit their final paper. Members on ResearchGate can request feedback from specific people in their network, or ask for feedback from specific groups (researchers who interact with their work, or experts in their field). When you receive a feedback request, it is because the researcher has asked for your feedback specifically, because you have the right expertise, or because you have interacted with their paper.
How does feedback work?
When you receive a feedback request from an author, you can decide if you want to help them by giving them feedback. To give your input, you'll first need to read the paper and summarize your feedback. This could take a while – people typically take a week or two to read the paper in full and decide on their feedback. Once you're ready, simply go back to the publication's page to provide your feedback.
Always keep in mind that the main purpose of feedback is to help authors improve their work. Aim to give feedback that is detailed, focused, relevant to the publication, and useful to the author.
Some tips on writing good feedback:
- Stay focused – only give feedback on the paper you're commenting on.
- Be constructive – keep your feedback specific and issue focused.
- Keep it actionable – focus on a particular aspect or section of the paper that you think needs work.
- Take your time – don’t underestimate the time it takes to carefully analyze the paper. Take your time to read the paper and summarize your comments.
- Structure your feedback – a great way to give focused feedback is to break it down by section. You can always separate them into “major” vs “minor” points if you have a lot of feedback to give.
- Focus on the content – if the paper is in English, but not written by a native speaker, it is better to focus on the science. If you do want to provide tips on the grammar or style, consider sending them to the author privately.
- If the paper is good, say so – but be sure to say why you liked it.
- Be polite – keep your comments polite and objective, even if you disagree with the author's conclusions.
Here are some questions you can think about answering when you give your feedback:
- Do the title and abstract cover the main aspects of the work?
- Is the introduction easy to follow and does it provide a hypothesis or aim of the study?
- Does the methods section give enough details to repeat the experiments?
- Does the results section give enough detail to understand the experiments?
- Given the data that was obtained in this study, did the authors perform all the logical analyses? Did they include the proper controls?
- Does the discussion address the main findings, and does it give proper recognition to similar work in this field?
- In general, is the paper easy to follow and does it have a logical flow?
- Did the authors make all their data (e.g. sequence reads, code, questionnaires used) available?
- Is this paper relevant or novel and an advancement of the field, or have other people done very similar work?
- Is the scientific question well-posed and the hypotheses clearly formulated?
- Are the methods appropriate to answer the main research question?
- Is the data analysis appropriate?
- Are the conclusions and abstract in line with the results?
- Do you have any suggestions for further explorations or studies?
Tip: Others have found it useful to think about the issues or areas that may come up in a formal review when they provide their feedback.
How do I benefit from giving feedback?
Think about feedback as long term. Feedback from peers is a vital part of the scientific process, and giving feedback on early research is becoming very important as we move towards more transparency and openness in science. People who comment frequently and write valuable feedback will build their reputation over time. The more you contribute by giving feedback, the more you'll be recognized and respected for helping researchers move forward with their work and giving back to the scientific community. When you are willing to help people by giving quality feedback, others will feel the same way about helping you. The ResearchGate community is large and is made up of scientific professionals. Providing quality feedback will help get you noticed by researchers to connect with professionally. Quality feedback could help get you offers for scientific collaboration (or even a job) in the future.
Can I choose if I want to give my feedback publicly or privately?
Yes. You have the option to provide public feedback by adding a comment in the Comments tab on the publication's page. If you prefer to send your feedback to the authors privately, it will be sent to them in a private message from you.
How much time do I have to give feedback?
There is no time limit on giving feedback but bear in mind that authors are usually waiting for feedback from their peers to help them revise their paper. As a general guideline, peer reviewers usually take around a week or two to read a paper, gather their thoughts, and summarize their feedback.
How does ResearchGate ensure quality feedback?
We always display the name of the person alongside their feedback. This way, the author of the feedback is fully responsible and accountable for the feedback they give. We alert authors to comments on their work as soon as feedback is added. This way, they are encouraged and able to respond to feedback immediately. We believe that these open discussions around publications are extremely effective at helping authors complete their papers and accelerate scientific progress. There are, however, certain kinds of feedback that we don't permit. Please take a few minutes to review the list below.
Feedback may be deleted if it belongs to one of the following categories: