The Trickiness of Peer Review

Fact One:

Most of us read other authors’ works all the time. We compare and contrast their writing styles to our own.

Fact Two:

Often peer review is a required aspect of a writing class.

Fact Three:

Peer review can be very helpful or it can be very harmful!

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The goal of peer review is to help the author improve his product, not to reduce him to a defeated blubbering puddle of tears.


When you review:

Keep comments constructive.

Specific suggestions are sometimes very appropriate.

However, sometimes being extremely specific in your comments is not possible or even desirable. The reviewer is not expected to take over the writing of the piece.

–If a certain phrase or paragraph is confusing, as a reviewer you may note that–without attempting to rewrite it for the author. Your comment should be more specific than, “I don’t get it.”

Remember to be positive and productive. However, being positive and productive does not mean being “nice.” It means asking productive questions in positive language. A review is not helpful to the author if only vague compliments are offered.

Be honest about a piece’s weaknesses, as well as its strengths.

A review is not a line-edit. The reviewer does not need to note every erroneous double space between words or the like.

Sometimes the reviewer’s identity is known. Sometimes the reviewer is kept anonymous. Regardless, the review should be positive and productive.


Today’s Assignment: Review someone’s written work. (That someone could be you.) Complete the page below.


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—(Keys to Literacy)