I remember the first time I was asked to review a paper for a conference. Admittedly, the person who contacted me was going through their rolodex of contacts in the academy and probably reached out to me as a last option. Didn’t matter to me. I was tired of my PhD colleagues humble-bragging about being asked to review papers. I also wanted to receive invitations to review papers, but no matter how many times I refreshed my inbox, I never got any!

The email I received was simple enough: it was an invitation to review this paper, followed by a choice to click one of two links: ACCEPT or REJECT . Knowing how important reviewing papers is to a successful academic career, I came to the conclusion that there is only one link I could click!

I made it! Academia here I come.

Or not.

It’s only after clicking ACCEPT did I realise that I had no idea how to review. So I turned to the reviews I had received as a paper author, and looked at how I could imitate their structure. I fumbled my way through that review and some of the reviews I wrote since that first invitation opened up more opportunities to review!