While early career researchers (ECRs) often read and produce articles for peer reviewed journals, they are of ten less familiar with peer review reports (PRRs). Most ECRs learn about the genre of PRRs by reading reports written about their authored manuscripts, and through hands-on experience crafting their own PRRs, albeit often with little guidance or exposure to exemplars. To demystify this ‘hidden’ academic genre, this article reports on a genre analysis of 62 ‘quality’ PRRs, focusing on their communicative purposes, and the structural, content, and linguistic elements that serve to support those purposes. Findings show that the central role of the PRR is to elicit various actions on the part of manuscript authors. Other functions serve to circumvent manuscript authors' potential negative emotional response to PRRs, and this is also seen in limited use of high modality verbs and emotional language. PRRs follow a fairly uniform structure, and focus on all elements of the manuscript, with most attention given to the methods section. The article provides numerous examples that provide a practical guide to support writing pedagogies related to this important academic practice.