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General Instructions for Peer Review

Professor: Jan Fernheimer

Peer Critique Sessions

The peer review sessions provide you with an opportunity to see what other people in the class are doing on a given assignment, to get close and helpful reader-response comments about your own work–comments that should guide you in revisions to be completed before handing in the final draft, and also to practice giving detailed, constructive criticism. To this end, you should try to do a number of things while commenting on others’ papers:

Warm Fuzzies First

Remember everyone likes to know that they’re doing something right or well, even if it is only that they’ve followed the proper instructions for formatting.
Note what you like about the essay so the author knows what to keep or build upon, and try to explain why it’s working so they replicate similar kinds of good work in other sections.

Constructive Criticism is the most helpful

  • Note what you don’t like so the author knows what to cut or change. Always explain why you like or dislike something.
  • Comments like “Good!” or “This paragraph is confusing” won’t help someone trying to improve a piece. You must explain to the best of your ability why something is good, so the author can repeat the desirable effect, or why something else is bad, so s/he can remedy the problem, i.e.,
  • “This paragraph is confusing because you use too many pronouns and I’m not sure to whom you are referring.”
  • “ This sentence is confusing because I’m not sure how it is connected to the one that comes before or after it.”
  • “This sentence is fantastic because it uses clean, precise language that is grammatically correct, in parallel structure, and not overwhelmed by passive voice or prepositional phrases.”

Courtesy Counts!!!
Be critical. You’re not here to coddle one another. You’re here to seriously and helpfully engage each other’s work. Constructive criticism is much more valuable than empty flattery however much we might like the latter.

Be kind. You’re not here to nit-pick at things just for the sake of finding fault. Keep your criticism constructive. Also, remember that as an author, it is often easier to take a reviewer’s advice seriously if they offer both positive and critical feedback.

Summary End Comments
While you can use Microsoft Word commenting to give in-text (hypertext comments) or comments at the end, I also want you to write a summary “end-comment” of at least one half page single-spaced (175-200 words).

Your end comment should begin with global issues:

  • Is there a clear research question–do the annotations help to explore it?— You should have a clear sense of why your peer read and summarized each of the annotated texts, have they clearly identified what each author is arguing and connected that back to their research question?
  • Is there a clear sense of organization for the essay as a whole both as it moves from paragraph to paragraph and from idea to idea within paragraphs?
  •  At the sentence level—are sentences clear and easy to understand? Does the writer employ clear transitions to link ideas together. Do you notice anything about the style in general—a tendency to use passive voice, prepositional phrases, to mis-place modifiers, etc.? If so, try suggesting an alternative model.

Do offer comments about grammar, but also offer comments about style, argument, arrangement, audience accommodation, rhetorical appeal, etc.

Good writing extends far beyond knowledge of where to put the comma or how to spell “relate,” and you’re more than a grammar checker.

With each paper, you will hand in the final submission and your earlier peer-reviewed first submission, with comments, signed by members of this class.

I will look at your peer critique comments, and I will record your performance on this task. Do not take it lightly. As an author, consider both your peer’s and my comments as you revise. Remember you can contact them and me outside of class for further clarification. Have fun!

Tips for using Word’s Track Changes

  1. Go to Word preference–>User information—make sure it has your name and initials (so when you got to make changes, they show up attached to your name)
  2. Go to tools–>track change–>turn on highlight changes and track moves when editing (all boxes should be checked)

You have two ways to insert comments—one is to go to Insert–>comment.  You can also click the comment icon above the document ( you may have to go to Toolbars to turn it on!). This will insert bubble like comments.

You also may make in-text comments (they should show up in a different color).

These functions appear slightly different in the MAC and PC interfaces, so if you’re struggling, raise your hand and I should be able to help.

Before you do anything else, immediately after you’ve opened your peer’s paper, hit File–>Save A–> and add your name to the title. For example, I would change

Essay1_1_ElectraS.doc to  Essay1_1_ElectraS_pr_JanF.doc.

I recommend you save the file to your desktop, work from the desktop, and then upload the document to Canvas once you’ve completed your changes.