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Peer Review: Helping to Improve Each Other's Writing


Published writers often receive input from writing groups, agents, editors, or reviewers. Peer review in a classroom provides similar help. These reviews not only enable class members to help each other with early drafts but also to sharpen their skill at identifying rough spots in their own writing.


The job of a peer reviewer is to pinpoint problems, not solve them. Revision, editing, and proofreading are the responsibility of the writer. When giving feedback, the reviewer should be tactful. Comments that are overly blunt, unduly critcal, or vague can be worse than none at all. Before critiquing, you might ask yourself, "How would I feel if I received this feedback?"


The difference between callousness and tact often lies in the phrasing. Vague reactions such as "I don't like the opening" or "Confusing" or "Dull" are not very helpful. Responses should be fairly specific so that the writer undersatnd where and what the problem is. Responses can be softened in three ways:


Begin with a positive comment about the draft

  • This is an interesting topic
  • That example is well developed (or funny or unusual)
  • The anecdote is delightful (or amusing or charming)
  • The spelling is correct


Be tentative. Offer comments as opinion, not a final decree:

  • This sentence appears negative. Is that what you intended?
  • This passage seems unclear. What do you mean?
  • I wonder if this part might work better if moved over here? (Not "You ramble.")


Ask polite questions:

  • Where is the thesis? (Not "You don't have a thesis Statement.")
  • Have you thought about the ending yet? (Not "There isn't any conclusion.")


Read more in: Dietsch, Betty. Reasoning & Writing Well, 4th Ed.McGraw-Hill: New York, 2005. (pp. 74-75)


Peer Review Guidelines


After you have determined who's essay you are to Peer Review, you need to find the essay by clicking on his/her name in the Sidebar. From that page, choose the essay to be reviewed.


After reading the essay, you need to post your comments at the bottom of the essay page. Your comments should include the following information.


Peer Review Comments

* Write your first name and enclose it in square brackets.

* Write at least 5 complete sentences in paragraph form. The more you write, the better your grade.

* Begin with a positive comment. Be specific about what it is you feel they did well.

* State what you believe to be the main idea of the essay and comment on whether or not you feel the thesis was written well.

* Comment on organization: unity & coherence.

* Comment on grammar, punctuation and usage.

* Keep in mind the suggests from your reading in Dietsch (listed above).

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