Advanced Composition: Peer Review

Today’s Plan:

  • Peer Review

Today I’ll be asking you to read and respond to each other’s work. Peer review isn’t simply copyediting; at this point, my concern isn’t with grammatical correctness as much as with argumentative structure and supplying a reader with sufficient context to evaluate evidence.

So, for each paper, please:

1. Underline the thesis and any significant *claims*. If you were unsure what the paper’s specific purpose was, then let the author know at the end of the essay. Also, feel free to suggest how the author might make their argument more specific. Remember that every paragraph should be making one (and only one claim).

2. Look for evidence in support of claims. Do they supply evidence to support claims? Also, does the author provide information about their sources (date/time, place of publication if relevant, summary of source’s argument/goals, etc). Pay Particular Attention to what they do before and after quotes. Does the author transition into a source? Do they establish credibility for the source? Do they explain quotes? Do they do something with the quoted material, or move onto a new idea before making it clear why the quote is in the paper? Are they asking you to do their thinking for them?

3. Pay Particular Attention to Transitions Between Paragraphs. Does the author make the connection between paragraphs clear? Are their sudden jumps? Does the first sentence of paragraphs contain a “this” or “that”?

4. Highlight ideas that grab your attention and interest them. Let them know what to do more of, what ideas to expand, what they are doing well.

5. Write a Quick Summary and response at the End of the Paper.

This is the trickiest part. But after you have finished reading the paper, I want you to write a brief summary, say five sentences, that focuses on the purpose of the paper. This lets the author know what you, as a reader, got out of the paper. The nature of the response is up to you, but I would advise either asking the author a question that you have after reading the paper, or focusing on a part of the paper that either gave you pause (you weren’t sure you agree because reasons) or left you wanting more.

Don’t “kill” a paper. I’m looking for you to do two of the above on every page. Sure, you can correct grammar or formatting, but those aren’t the kinds of comments I’m looking for. I want something more constructive.

We’ll spend about 15 to 20 minutes with each paper, and then switch.

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