There are many good resources that describe the paper reviewing process already, including those that explain the process (and its imperfections) and those that provide instructions for writing a good review (as well as techniques to avoid).
There are also a few nice summaries of the review process for conferences in different areas of computer science that lend visibility into the process (e.g., here and here).
Remember that the reviewer’s primary goal trumps all other objectives: A reviewer often has a large number of papers to process and is typically not deeply devoted to improving the content of any particular paper.
If you are lucky, you will get a diligent, thoughtful reviewer who provides thorough feedback, but do not be surprised if a review is not as thorough as you would have liked, or if the review “misses” some point you were trying to make.
We would all like reviewers to make three passes through your paper submission—and, these are the instructions I would give, too, in an ideal world.
Unfortunately, however, you will be lucky in many cases to get two thorough reads.
Overall, the paper summarizes the current state of knowledge of the topic.
It creates an understanding of the topic for the reader by discussing the findings presented in recent research papers. Instead, a review paper synthesizes the results from several primary literature papers to produce a coherent argument about a topic or focused description of a field.
The reviewer’s main goal is to determine the paper’s suitability for publication. student, you may review one or two papers at a time, as an “external reviewer” for a conference or journal. career, you may have established yourself as an expert on a particular topic and find yourself reviewing a paper here and there on a handful of topics.
As an author, you shouldn’t be surprised if some of the comments seem trivial: there may be underlying issues of taste that drove the reviewer’s opinion on your paper that a reviewer may not explicitly state. The paper review process can differ depending on who, exactly, is reviewing the paper. Journal editors and program committee chairs often seek the help of external reviewers if they need a particular subject-matter expert to review a paper. Sometimes a member of the program committee (e.g., your advisor) might ask you to help review a particular paper.