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.  Pay especial attention to how well the paper addresses the topic prompt (on relationship problems, the use of irony to deliver a specific theme or message, the portrayal of war, or comparison and contrast of villains). Does the author address the topic in real analytical depth, or does the paper seem in any respects superficial or too simplistic?

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

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. 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 ¶).

5a) for topic option 1, on relationships: how well does the author demonstrate and explain the particular relationship problems each couple portrays? Any suggestions for changing or refining the actual problem the couple portrays in any of the stories?

5b) for topic option 2, on irony and theme: does the author demonstrate irony effectively in all three stories? and does the author for each story present a viable theme, which should be an observation on the human condition, or a statement about some aspect of life? Suggestions for additional important ironies in the stories or in adjustments to the themes drawn from them?

5c) for topic option 3, on war: is the author convincing in interpreting the observations the stories' authors make about war? Can you suggest refinements or additional angles the author might make to strengthen his or her analysis?

5d) for topic option 4, on villains: does the author succeed in drawing significant points of similarity and difference between the two villains? Any additional angles you can advise your classmate to consider including?

6. Identify the weakest point in the body of the paper (weakest in content) and make concrete, specific suggestions for improvement: note that "body" means the paragraph is neither the introduction nor the conclusion. Saying that no ¶ is weak is not an option: if you think all ¶'s are strong, reread them all carefully and decide which is less strong than the others. If you covered this question in question 4 or 5, just say so here.

7. Identify the second weakest point in the body of the paper (weakest in content) and here, too, make concrete, specific suggestions for improvement.  Here again, saying there is no "second weakest" is not an option. If you covered this question in question 4 or 5, just say so here.

8. Identify places where the author needs to explain a specific claim within any ¶ in more detail.  Identify places where the paper needs more evidence or illustration to make points more effective and offer specific suggestions.

9. Comment on the author's inclusion of quotations from secondary sources: does he or she have quotes from two different sources? How effectively do the quotations help advance or support the author's analysis?

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 from the stories. Suggest specific passages from the stories that the author might quote to illustrate better the paper's primary assertions.  Are the quotes used well?  Do they offer significant support for the author's claims, or do any seem simply "thrown in" to meet the assignment requirements? 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.