Peer Response 3

Your comments and advice are not restricted to the numbered items below: if other ideas for improving the paper occur to you, share them.  Feel free to mark on the draft, but write your response to the questions below on separate paper.  Give your response to the paper's author so that he or she can review your suggestions and turn in your response with his or her final draft.  And in a tactful way, be mean!  Be critical! Be helpful!

1. After reading it through a first time, state your initial impression of the paper.

2. Evaluate the introduction and make suggestions for improvement. Consider:

  • Is the intro too brief (which would be anything less than roughly half a page)?  Suggest how the intro could be developed more effectively: avoid saying just that the paragraph needs more—make your suggestions specific.
  • Does the author answer the question before raising it?  If so, advise against this practice and suggest other introductory tactics.
  • Any places where the intro is choppy?  Suggest transitions where needed.
  • Make specific and precise suggestions for improvement of the central question, attending especially to how well the question addresses the assigned topic. 
  • 3. Underline the topic sentence of each body ¶ on the draft.  If there is no obvious topic sentence in any body ¶, suggest one.  Make suggestions for improving existing topic sentences—note that each topic sentence should answer the intro question squarely and directly. Also underline and evaluate the thesis statement, which should appear in the conclusion.

    4. Only for option 1, on why we work. Skip to number 5 for papers addressing the topic of immoral and unethical behavior.

    a) Evaluate the author's presentation and refutation of opposing views.  If the author appears to agree with all views in the body of the paper, tell him or her the paper is likely to fail!  Suggest opposing views, answers to the question that the author might argue against.  If the author does include opposing views, consider their effectiveness: are they developed and explained thoroughly enough?  Refuted well?  Suggest improvements.

    b) More specifically, consider whether the opposing views are not direct answers to the question. For the option on work, if body ¶'s focus mainly on why people do not work, this is a huge weakness because the paper is supposed to focus only on why people do in fact work.

    5. Point out ¶'s that appear to lose or shift focus by getting away from the initial point stated in the topic sentence (think of repeating "key words" throughout the ¶): should any ¶'s be split up into smaller units? Also consider whether any two ¶'s seem to be addressing the same fundamental point and might be better combined.

    6. Identify the weakest point in the body of the paper (weakest in content) and make concrete, specific suggestions for improvement. Saying that no body ¶ is weak is not an option: if you think all body ¶'s are strong, reread them all carefully and decide which is less strong than the others.

    7. Identify the second weakest point in the body of the paper (weakest in content) and here, too, make concrete, specific suggestions for improvement.  And again, saying there is no "second weakest" is not an option.

    8. Make specific suggestions for improving underdeveloped paragraphs: don't just say "expand" or "elaborate" make precise suggestions. 

    9. Identify places where the paper needs more evidence or illustration to make points more effective and offer specific suggestions.

    10. Evaluate the effectiveness of the conclusion. If the conclusion is less than roughly half a page in length, suggest specific ways of expanding the paragraph: use the expression "for example," and then give actual suggestions.

    11. Suggest improvements in the author's use of quotations. Suggest specific passages from the article(s) in question that the author might quote to illustrate better the paper's primary assertions.  Suggest improvements in the introduction of quotes (Nugget 3).

    12. Any quotations requiring more thorough explanation before or after they are given?

    13. Point out successions of short, choppy sentences (approximately one typed line in length or less); suggest ways of combining short sentences to improve the flow of the essay.

    14. Grammar and mechanics—especially "simple stuff," golden rules and nuggets, and quotes and documentation. 

    15. Indicate any words that strike you as awkward; indicate any words you think the author may be using incorrectly.