University of Wisconsin–Madison

Activities for Focused Peer Review

Noelle Crooks (Psychology)

In these materials, adapted from Psychology 225 with Professor Becky Addington, TA Noelle Crooks offers three peer review options that focus on different concerns in students’ drafts: reverse outlining allows a reader to report on their understanding of the author’s writing; the conciseness review enables the writer to focus in on the key writing concern of concision; and the “Author’s Choice” review usefully requires writers to identify the weak areas of their papers – and to let their readers know where they want feedback.

These peer-review activities can be completed separately, at different times of the semester, or they can all be conducted at different times during the drafting process for one paper.

 

Activity 1: Reverse Outline

Author’s Name _______________________         Reviewer’s Name_______________________             

Instructions: Clear ideas and clear connections between ideas are critical for a successful paper. As an author, the structure of your paper might be clear to you, but unclear to readers. This activity provides the opportunity to see what the reader is getting out of the paper and whether the key ideas are being communicated effectively.

 Create a reverse outline of the paper’s Introduction section. Begin by numbering the paragraphs. For each paragraph, write a one-sentence description of the main idea contained in that paragraph. Number each sentence according to the paragraph it’s describing.

As you are outlining, be sure to note:

  • Paragraphs where the main idea is unclear
  • Places where the connections between paragraphs are unclear

 

Activity 2: Conciseness Review

Author’s Name _______________________         Reviewer’s Name_______________________  

Instructions: Effective papers provide enough detail for the reader to understand what’s going on without including extraneous information or words. In this activity, you will evaluate the overall conciseness of the paper. In addition to providing feedback on the draft itself, use the space below to provide a written response for each item.

  1. Does the author provide all the essential details while maintaining economy of expression? Are there important details that are missing?
  2. Are there sections or sentences that are redundant? Are sentences wordy?
  3. What could be cut to make the paper more concise?
  4. Are all page and word limits met?

 

 

Activity 3: Author’s Choice

Author’s Name _______________________         Reviewer’s Name_______________________  

Author Instructions: Circle TWO items from the list below that you would like your reviewer to focus on.

Reviewer Instructions: Review in detail the two selected items from the list below. In addition to providing feedback on the draft itself, use the space below to provide a written response for each item. If time allows, feel free to comment on additional sections of the paper.

  1. Introductory Paragraph: Does it engage the reader? Does the author use dictionary definitions or ‘since the beginning of time’ statements? If so, what might be an alternative way to engage the reader
  2. Article 1 Review: Does the overall review make sense? Does the author provide sufficient detail for you to understand the background experiments? Does the information flow well?
  3. Article 2 Review: Does the overall review make sense? Does the author provide sufficient detail for you to understand the background experiments? Does the information flow well?
  4. Gap in the Literature: Does the author explain why the current study was conducted? Does he/she talk about what’s new about our study that earlier studies have not done? Why is this study important?
  5. Hypotheses: Does the author lay out a specific prediction for each DV? Do the predictions compare all levels of the IV?
  6. Methods: Would you be able to replicate the study given the details in the materials and procedures? Are materials described in sufficient detail? Can you follow the chronology of the experiment? Is there any important information that seems to be missing? Are there extraneous details that could be removed?
  7. Transitions: Does each paragraph flow logically from the previous paragraph or do new paragraphs seem to come out of the blue?
  8. Overall Organization: Can you easily follow the flow of the author’s argument? Are there places where you get lost? Can you see where the argument is leading?