What's So Good About Peer Review?

    When you read your peers' papers you can...

    • Understand the assignment better
    • See how other writers responded to the assignment
    • Pick up writing strategies from other writers
    • Get to know someone better through their writing

    When another student reads your paper you can…

    • Bounce your ideas off another person before they go to the teacher for grading
    • Step outside yourself to see your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer
    • Write for an audience larger than just the teacher
    • Hear where you need to clarify or develop your ideas

    TIPS for Achieving a Successful Peer Review:

    • Respond in pencil—you may need to erase.
    • Ask the writer what he/she would like feedback on: a section they had trouble with, the introduction, conclusion, etc. Tell your reviewer the same.
    • Read the paper through once without a pencil in your hand, just to get the big picture. Then read it again.
    • Identify what was done well, what you liked about the paper, not just the problems. If you see a great sentence or idea, say so!
    • Ask yourself, “What two things would improve this paper most?” Then suggest them to the writer.
    • Remember that being too nice is not helpful, nor is being too harsh. You can be honest, but always be kind.

    Group Peer Review from Hell:

    A face to face group peer review can be a challenge. Here are some possible difficulties that can arise and means for troubleshooting them:

    • You can’t make sense of the paper.
      • Try making an outline of it to help you see how the ideas are (or aren’t) connected.
    • The student who read your paper merely edited it by marking up grammar, spelling and punctuation.
      • Tell your reviewer that you aren’t concerned with the surface stuff—you can fix that later. You want help with the larger picture: organization, transitions, content.
    • You forgot the suggestions your group made.
      • Take notes while they comment on your paper.
    • You hate peer review—that’s all there is to it.
      • Be fair to your classmates; go in with a positive attitude. Your comments could really help someone become a better writer.
        Realize that giving feedback on writing is part of many careers. You need practice.