Peer Review

Careful peer review of a classmate’s work is beneficial to both you and your classmate. Your classmate benefits by getting specific feedback that will help make their piece of writing more effective, while the practice of offering analysis and targeted feedback can make you better at reviewing and revising.

Here are some tips for giving peer-review feedback:

  • Begin by reading your peer’s work out loud. After every sentence or two, make yourself comment on what you’ve read. Your aim should be to communicate your experience of reading their paper.
    • For example, rather than saying, “This is ungrammatical,” try saying “I’m having trouble with this sentence.” This provides feedback on writing’s effect on your experience, and not on the paper itself.
  • Be supportive and honest – say what you like about the writing and try to explain everything in a positive way. Make sure you focus on the effectiveness of the paper as it appears to you as you read it.
    • For example, instead of saying: “This is not interesting,” or, “This thesis statement is poorly worded,” say something like: “This paragraph is a bit confusing to me because…” or, “I like the way you included this, but I’m not sure if this part of the sentence is necessary.”
  • Remember, you are offering feedback as a reader, not a writer – don’t worry about how experienced you are as a writer or how qualified you feel to offer feedback on someone else’s work. At this stage in the writing process, a reader’s input will be the most valuable.

Here are some tips for receiving peer-review feedback:

  • Be quiet while your work is being read. It’s easy to jump in and respond to your reviewer’s comments and questions, but remember: when your paper is being read by your instructor, you won’t be there to interject. Instead, consider how to make changes to your paper to address the reader’s concerns.
  • Have a positive attitude and try not to become defensive. Having your work read aloud is hard, and it can feel embarrassing or uncomfortable. Remember, the feedback you receive about your writing is not a reflection of anything other than the reading experience. Try not to take it personally!
  • Revise your work to address appropriate feedback – carefully decide which feedback to use – you have the final say and can decline advice if you disagree.
  • Keep a record of the types of comments you receive to guide the way you write future assignments.