Effective Peer Editing Strategies

Peer Review

Gives writers feedback.

Helps writers know what isn't clear.

Allows writers to see what other students have done.

Improves papers.

Why Have Someone Read Your Draft?

After you have written a rough draft, it is always a good idea to have someone else look at and evaluate your paper. At the same time, there are several things you can do to edit your paper as well. I have my students do a personal evaluation (Writer's Evaluation) of their paper first, then I have them work in small groups to exchange papers and do a peer review.

Talking after reading each other's papers can be helpful.
Talking after reading each other's papers can be helpful. | Source

1. Self Edit First

For the best help from peer editing, do a self-evaluation on your own essay before you hand it to someone else. By doing a writer's evaluation, you help your reader understand what you need help with, and you also get started in the process of thinking about how you will revise your essay.

Writer's Evaluation

On your first draft of your evaluation essay, underline, and label:

  • Your thesis or main review statement (should be one sentence).
  • Your topic sentences in each paragraph of the body (which tell what you are judging and what you think about it).

On a separate sheet of paper, answer the following questions:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What do you want your audience to think, do, or feel after they read your essay?
  3. What do you feel is weakest about your essay and how do you plan to revise?
  4. Ask two questions your peer reviewers can answer.

While some instructors like online editing, peer editing with a hard copy makes it easier to see errors and mark corrections without knowing special editing marks.
While some instructors like online editing, peer editing with a hard copy makes it easier to see errors and mark corrections without knowing special editing marks. | Source

2. Peer Edit with Several People if Possible

I think it helps to have at least 2-3 people read and edit your paper if you can because different people have different writing strengths. If you don't have a chance to do this in class, use my questions and exercises on your own paper and try exchanging papers with a classmate or friend.

3. Focus on Improving the Paper

Sometimes, there isn't enough time for the reader to answer every question. Instead, ask them to focus on the areas you most want help with, or to give you their best advice for improving your paper. Another way to divide up the editing time is to have each editor do every other question.

3. Edit with a Hard Copy

According to the poll below, a majority of people find peer editing helps most with grammar and spelling errors. Those sorts of errors are easy to mark on a hard copy, but more difficult and time consuming to explain on a digital copy. So, if possible, you should try to print out your essay so that it is easy for you to see mistakes and for your editor to write comments. However, if you need to exchange papers online, you can use the editing feature of your word processing program, or just have the person put comments in a different color font.

Sample Peer Review Worksheet

Writer’s Evaluation: On your draft, underline, and label:

  1. Your thesis or main review statement (should be one sentence).
  2. Your topic sentences in each paragraph of the body (which tell what you are judging and what you think about it).

On a separate sheet of paper, answer the following questions:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What do you want your audience to think, do, or feel after they read your essay?
  3. What do you feel is weakest about your essay and how do you plan to revise?
  4. Ask two questions your readers can answer.

Questions for Peer Reviewer:

I. Read the paper slowly.

  • Mark on the paper any errors in grammar, commas, word choice, spelling or other errors you notice.
  • Add any comments on the paper about what you like, such as: "good evidence," " a vivid description" or "interesting analysis."
  1. Look at the answer to the first question on the Writer's Evaluation. Do you think that the paper makes the audience respond the way the writer intended? How could the writer make the paper clearer?
  2. Look at the underlined thesis and topic sentences. Do you know how the writer feels about this subject? Are these clear, strongly worded and interesting? How could they be better?
  3. Where does the paper need more evidence and/or examples? If you have ideas for what the author could add, then tell them.
  4. Does the description of the subject make you able to feel you are there? Where does it need to be stronger?
  5. Is the paper organized effectively? Is there about 1/3 summary or description and about 2/3 evaluation? Does the author organize it so that it goes from least to most important? How and where can this organization improve?
  6. Is the introduction interesting? Does it catch your attention and make you want to continue reading? How could it be better?
  7. How is the conclusion? How could the author improve it? Is there something in another part of the paper that could be a better end?
  8. Do you feel you know enough about this subject to be able to decide if you would like it? What needs to be added?
  9. Look at the Writer's Revision plans and questions and answer them.

What is Peer Editing?

Peer Editing Poll

How do peer editors help the most?

See results without voting
Ask questions!  That is the best way to get the help you need from your reader.
Ask questions! That is the best way to get the help you need from your reader. | Source

How to Edit

You will get the most out of your reader's advice if you do the following:

  1. Read your own Writer's Evaluation again first.
  2. Re-read your essay and read the comments written by your editors, then read their answers to the peer editing questions.
  3. Start revising by dealing with big issues first. Using your own analysis and that of your readers, make a list of what you need to do. What is the most important thing to fix?
  4. Go through the list and make those changes. If you get stuck, then take a short break and come back, or just go on to one of the other changes.
  5. When you think your paper is as good as you can make it (or when you run out of time!), stop and give yourself a chance to do a final proofreading before turning it in to your instructor.

Sample Evaluation Paper Topics

Evaluation Essays are like a review. You can evaluate the purpose and effectiveness of any written, illustrated or performed presentation. Moreover, many of my students like to review products or decisions of sports teams. Ask your instructor if there are any limitations on your topic, but some of the types of things my students have written evaluations about are below:

  1. Movie
  2. Theater Production
  3. Book
  4. Album or band
  5. Concert
  6. Zoo
  7. Museum (science, art, history, or novelty museum)
  8. Event or attraction (such as a theme park, a state fair, a rodeo, or a parade)
  9. Advertising campaign (such as one against drugs)
  10. Product (anything that people read reviews about before buying, especially electronics)
  11. Video Game (one particular game, or a series)
  12. Clothing Line (from a designer or store line)
  13. Sports team or player
  14. Decisions of a sports team
  15. Buildings (like different types of ball parks, or offices)

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Comments 4 comments

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

RavenBiker--I think that you bring up a great point. In fact, I often find myself wanting to use a conjunction to start a sentence because it sounds right to me. Moreover, in novels and conversation we do this all the time. I tell my students that when they are writing in an informal way or are recording a conversation, then having a sentence start with a conjunction is appropriate. However, I don't think it should be done in formal academic writing. Why? Because using "and," "or," and "but" is a bit lazier than trying to think of what you are actually trying to say. When you have to choose another transitional expression, you become more precise. If you want to add, do you mean: additionally, moreover, furthermore, therefore, in other words, or absolutely? Really, this is just the same thing you discussed earlier in your comment on my other Hub on commas. By eliminating the conjunctions as possible first words in your sentence, you make yourself learn to write more effectively. Great comment! Thanks!


RavenBiker profile image

RavenBiker 4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA.

Perhaps it is off subject, I have had professors approve and disapprove of starting sentences with a conjunction. I found that more the writing is creative and less formal, starting with a conjunction is okay by me.

Example though it isn't really a good one:

English is a good major to have because it does teach critical thinking. And you must admit that critical thinking lacks in many workplace situations.

Am I blowing smoke?


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks so much Dontei--English is a great major which helps you in many different careers. Being able to write, speak, and think clearly is also very rewarding.


Dontei profile image

Dontei 4 years ago

As a student in college that's leaning towards a English major I really enjoyed reading your hub.

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