Some General Guidelines for Referee Reports
Structure. While there are no absolute requirements, you should try to cover the following four areas, and keep in mind that simply summarizing the paper is insufficient. Putting in headings is certainly not necessary...if you can integrate it all together, that’s fine. But, if there is any doubt, headings aren’t a bad idea. In terms of overall length, the report should be no more than about five pages. See the attached sample report for a good example.
1. Summary. The summary need not be more than a quarter of your report. You might briefly state what the authors have set out to do, why it might be important, and what results they claim to find. Save the more specific description of the methodology for the general assessment and specific comments section. That way you can save the detail for what you think is important (or wrong).
2. General Assessment. This is the key part of your referee report. Don’t jump into technical econometric issues unless they are central. Instead, take a more critical look at your summary. Are they asking an interesting question? What are the main problems and contributions?
3. Specific Comments. Here is where you deal with econometric and theoretical points. It is perfectly fine to do these bullet point style.
4. Extensions. These can also be bullet points if you like. Try to be as specific as you can about the extensions. Avoid vague things like “include investor demand variables” in the analysis. Spend a sentence on how you might measure this. Think carefully about why the author hasn’t already extended the paper in this way. Many times they’ve overlooked it. Sometimes, there are good reasons. It’s fine to qualify your idea in this way. I’d say the best extensions are less about fixing papers, and more about building on it, or connecting it to something else. Maybe propose a way to test a further implication of what they have concluded.