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.