Requesting a Review of Something

Reading, reviewing, and re-reviewing are a huge part of the research process. Here are some tips to get the most useful reviews from me.

Reading and reviewing the work in the research group is a key responsibility of any research group leader. For me, it is also one of the most exciting parts of the job. When I ask you to send me something for review, I hope to look at it, make direct edits, and/or write up comments.


I really do not want to send word documents back and forth with you. The following options allow a more streamlined document collaboration:

  • LaTeX in a git repository
  • Markdown in a git repository
  • Any markup language at all in a git repository
  • A shared Google Docs folder
  • Overleaf

If you are working in one of the environments, please just point me to the repository.

If, for whatever reason, you can’t work in one of those frameworks, send me a PDF. It’s a Portable Document Format after all. Word documents render differently on different machines, so if you send me a word document, I may complain about formatting you can’t even see. Send me a pdf.


I, like other humans, need time to read things. This kind of work typically happens on my couch over the weekend or on the plane. So, timing your request around those things might (perhaps) speed up the turnaround time.

Under 1 page

If you have some short wording, a blog post, an abstract, a cover letter, or something else under a page, I should be able to get back to you within a few days. When I get your email, I’ll either respond within the day or I’ll let you know when to expect my comments.

Under 100 pages

Longer items like manuscripts, conference summaries, and thesis chapters, will take a little longer. Plan ahead to give me two weeks to review these items. I may have significant edits, so include extra time before the deadline to allow yourself to make those edits.

Over 100 pages

If you have something like a dissertation or masters thesis that exceeds the amount of text I might be able to read in a day, please consider sending it to me in chunks. I need at least a month to read and comment on documents of this size. Again, add extra time before the deadline to make the edits I might suggest.

Forgotten Reviews

I will typically acknowledge reciept of one of these review requests. At that point, I’ll usually say how long I expect my response to take. I try very hard tohonor these commitments, but sometimes things get lost. If I’ve gone past the deadline, please remind me.

Reading my comments

  • Sometimes, I’ll directly edit the document if that’s possible.
  • Other times, I’ll submit my changes to your document with a pull request.
  • If I have a question, I’ll probably make comments inline on a github repository.
  • Or, if it’s something larger, I might make a github issue capturing the changes that need to be made.
  • Whether or not you’ve sent me a pdf, it’s possible that I’ll send you a marked up pdf in return. This is because I am sometimes stuck on an airplane with my ipad and my stylus. You’ll learn to read my handwriting. I try to match comments by color. If I send you a pdf like this, I’ll likely ask you to make all the contained changes yourself.