Guidelines for Peer Review

Peer review is essential to our improvement together as writers. Here are the steps you should follow when doing a review of your peers' work.

  1. Prepare your own writing for review.
  • Read your writing aloud and see if it seems unnatural. Errors that were invisible to the eye may not be to the ear.
  • This is the most important technique for a successful revision, as Week 5 of English Composition I discusses.
  1. Affirm what's good in your peers' writing. Let them know what they did well.
  • Positive affirmation is crucial to effective communication. As the Bible says, we are to "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15).
  • If we communicate in a way that shows real concern for other people and a desire to help them improve as writers, then our suggestions will be received well. Otherwise, they may likely be ignored.
  1. Address what could be improved.​​
    • Every piece of writing likely can be improved in some way.
    • Ideally, discussing areas for improvement should go beyond simply identifying a problem, or even suggesting a solution for that problem.
    • Rather, seek to ask your peers probing questions that will help them work out solutions for themselves.
    • Look beyond simply the surface level of the writing (grammar & spelling issues) to the mid-level (word choice, sentence variety, and paragraph organization).
    • However, if there are issues with grammar, spelling, or the like that make it difficult to understand the piece, then you may need to let your peers know about them specifically.
  2. Give a high-level evaluation of the writing. 
    Consider your peer's success in writing according to the following criteria:
    • Form:
      • Is the way the piece is written suitable for what it intends to say?
    • Topic: 
      • Is there a clear thesis?
      • Is the thesis backed up by well-organized supporting evidence?
    • Audience:
      • Does the piece address its audience effectively - in a way that is professional and yet winsome?
      • Does the piece have the proper tone (use of language) for its audience?
    • Purpose:
      • Does the piece accomplish what it sets out to do?
      • When a prompt has been given, does the piece answer the prompt's question adequately?