Peer Review

Directions for Peer Review of second submission

Now that you’ve submitted your second section of your paper, you’ve been assigned two papers submitted by your fellow students. Your job is to peer review these sections.

Remember that peer review is a common practice in the professional world of writing. You invite readers who are generally your equals to read and criticize your writing in order to make it stronger and better.

Often students don’t like peer review because of two reasons:

  1. they don’t believe that other students have anything important to offer, and
  2. they avoid it because they are afraid of hurting the feelings of their fellow students.

We will avoid both of these problems in this way of doing peer review. First, don’t bother telling a writer how to “fix” his or her paper. Instead, address my questions which as you to provide a description of the paper. In other words, you don’t have to criticize a paper. You will describe what you’ve read.

So, ask yourself: is it easy to describe? Then the writer has done something right. But if your readers have a hard time following the argument or seeing how the evidence works, if your readers can’t figure out what a paragraph is saying or what a sentence means, or your readers can’t seem to agree on what the paper is up to, then the description will fail. And THAT means you, the writer, has a problem to solve.

Directions: Below are a set of questions you should answer about the confirmation offered by your two fellow students. For each draft,

  1. copy the questions in a writing program document (such as Word),
  2. answer the questions in some detail, and
  3. when you’re done, copy-and-paste the questions and your answers back into the forum as a reply to the original post of the writer’s own draft. That is, at the bottom of the paper you’re reviewing is a button for adding a comment. Click that button and cut-and-paste your peer review beneath the paper.
  4. Also, consider what others have written about the same draft. Do you agree or disagree or both? Why? This is a discussion forum, so have a discussion; this is important.

Here are the questions to address:

1) What is the main idea of each paragraph? Write each one down for each paragraph (like a miniature outline). Make a note about where a paragraph seems to have no clear main idea or two or more main ideas. Now, do the ideas flow one to the next or do they seem randomly placed? In other words, do the ideas all hold together or do the ideas seem jumbled and unfocused?

2) How does the draft follow from the thesis statement found at the top of the draft? In other words, describe the connect you see between the thesis statement and the argument so far?

3) Are there any paragraphs that don’t seem to use the “they say/I say” form? Which ones? Any instances where the “they say/I say” structure works realy well?

4) There is always a danger that the source material (the research) is used only weakly — in generalities or as mere (as in unsupported) opinion. What are the specific and concrete ideas used by the writer from his/her source material? Where do see research used without specifics?

5) Notice where the writer uses quotes (if any). Do the quotes actually follow the ideas that the paragraph is about? How does the quote relate logically to the sentences around it (if it does)? How does the writer offer an interpretation of the quote after the quote? If he or she doesn’t, be sure to note that.

6) Anything else you’d like to add or mention?