BACKGROUND Peer review of submitted manuscripts is widely perceived as a cornerstone of assuring quality in academic journals. However, in medical school and beyond, dermatologic surgeons receive minimal instruction in the methodology of critically reviewing new literature. OBJECTIVE To guide new or less experienced reviewers through the steps of assessing a manuscript for the journal. To clarify the most important elements of the review and to discuss common pitfalls and their avoidance. METHODS A stepwise template was suggested on how to review manuscripts. RESULTS An algorithmic approach to reviewing a paper can demystify the process, increase efficiency, and reduce the likelihood that important elements of the review will be omitted or overlooked. Nonetheless, this recommended approach is a starting point, and individual reviewers would be expected to modify it to reflect their particular preferences and to adapt it to specific papers. CONCLUSION Reviewing a manuscript for the journal is amenable to a simple algorithmic approach. Encouraging recent graduates and others to review for the journal by clarifying the process can further assist the editorial staff in selecting the best manuscripts and improving these before publication.
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