Chapter 3: The Writing Process, Composing, and Revising

3.6 Peer Review and Responding to Others’ Drafts

Emilie Zickel

When it works, both giving and receiving peer feedback can be a great learning opportunity.

If you look at other people’s work in progress, you’ll undoubtedly get some ideas about how you might do something different or better in your own draft. Even if you are looking at someone else’s draft that is weaker than yours, you may learn a lot: about what writing looks like when it is not working and about why it is not working. This can get you to think about ways to make it work.

There are a few things to remember to if you want to be a helpful peer reviewer

  1. You don’t need to take on the role of a “grader”. That isn’t the role of the peer reviewer.
  2. You don’t need to correct things. Instead, try to help the writer identify areas for revision or editing.
  3. Sometimes, it is most valuable if you share your experience as a reader of the draft. You can explain what felt easy and clear to you as a reader and also where you struggled as a reader to understand what the writer was trying to accomplish.
  4. Offer ideas for helping the writer to meet the assignment goals. Your understanding of the assignment goals might be stronger than your peer’s, and if so, your suggestions could be quite helpful.
  5. Be honest, accurate, detailed, and descriptive in comments that you leave. Brief or vague responses risk sounding like insults.

Offer “I”- focused observations 

  1. I see your thesis at the end of your intro paragraph
  2. I see transition phrases at the beginning of each new paragraph
  3. I can see that you ___________,  which is a goal of this paper
  4. In your ________ paragraph I see….but I do not see….
  5. I do not see a Works Cited

Express your experience as a reader

  1. My understanding is that the thesis of this paper should _______. I did not clearly see ______ in your thesis. Instead, I see (explain).
  2. I was confused by this sentence (share the sentence) and I took it to mean (explain how you read that sentence).
  3. In paragraph ______ I thought that, based on what you said in the first sentence, the whole paragraph would discuss X. But it looks to me like at the end of the paragraph, you begin discussing Y, which felt to me like a new and different idea.
  4. I thought that your intro was really interesting and creative – the details you included about your experiences in the mountains were really cool.

Express places where, as a reader, you were drawn into the writing

  1. I thought that the second paragraph was really clear and interesting because….
  2. I like the way that you structured paragraph X because ….
  3. I appreciate your use of (signal phrases? citations? MLA format? transitions? etc) because I have been struggling with that in my own writing. Thanks for the example

Avoid “you” phrases

These types of phrases are telling the writer what to do and/or simply offering judgment. They are “you” statements, not “I” statements. Try to avoid these types of peer assessment phrases:

  • You should fix
  • The assignment says to _____ but you didn’t do that
  • You need more____
  • You need less_____
  • To make the paper better, you need to____

Peer Review

Complete the peer review by adding your responses to the form below. Once you complete the peer review, you can export your responses to share with your peer.



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