Your job as peer editor is to help the writer present his or her ideas in a clear, logical and forceful manner that you, as the reader, can easily understand. This involves far more than just correcting spelling and grammar. It involves considering how the overall structure of the paper, combined with word choice and sentence structure, provide for the clear expression of ideas. General Guidelines:
Be specific. Simply saying, interesting or great is unhelpful without further clarification. You must tell the writer what about the piece makes it compelling.
Aim your comments at the writing, not the writer. Be positive and direct. Trust your instincts. If you are confused by something, it will probably be unclear to other
readers as well. Always keep overall structure in mind. Ask yourself, am I confused because this is
worded unclearly, or because this idea doesnt relate directly to the thesis as I understand it?
Peer Editing Strategy:
Overview Read through the paper once quickly with an eye toward the big picture: 1. Does the paper meet the requirements of the assignment? 2. Does it make an assertion, present evidence and bring the argument to some
sort of satisfactory conclusion? 3. Can you determine the intended audience?
Thesis Read the introductory paragraph(s) :
1. Can you locate the thesis? 2. Is it arguable, clear and concise? Is the purpose of the essay clear? 3. Does it accurately state the main thrust of the paper? 4. Is it within the scope of the paper/assignment?
Development Read the whole paper, looking at how the body of the paper relates to
the thesis: 1. As a reader, can you sense a structure to the paper? Are the ideas easy to
follow in their arrangement? 2. Does the evidence support the thesis and only the thesis? Is there evidence
missing? 3. Do the transitions between sentences and paragraphs help connect the ideas? 4. Does the paper strike a good balance between presenting the writers own ideas
and details from the story and/or quotes or summaries of others ideas? 5. Does the introduction engage you? Does it tell you the point of the essay? 6. Does the conclusion refer back to the introduction? Does it give you a sense of
rounding out the essay? Is it more than a mere listing of the ideas that came before?
Style and Mechanics
1. Are there spelling, grammar and/or punctuation errors? Should you remind the writer to use the spell and grammar check on his or her word processing program, or to refer to Hacker? Is there a pattern to the errors?
2. Are topic sentences strong, declarative sentences, stated in active voice? 3. Are technical terms well defined and used correctly? 4. Are others ideas, phrases and sentences correctly cited?
Writing Center Workshop Spring 2003