RESPONDING TO A PEER'S PAPER: SUGGESTIONS
If you are asked to engage in peer response and have not been given specific guidelines, here is a general overview of areas you can pay attention to and comment on.
- The central focus of the paper: Sometimes a thesis sentence is required, and sometimes the paper explores an idea and brings out a thesis at the end. Regardless of the pattern, when a reader finishes the paper, he or she should have a clear idea of what the paper is about as a whole. The reader can tell the writer what he or she perceives that central focus or idea to be in a sentence (not a topic--but a statement about the topic of the paper).
- Necessary identifying information in the first paragraph: Clear identification of the topic is important to the reader's understanding, even if the thesis is not stated in the first paragraph. If the paper is about a text--an article, a book, a video--the title and author should be named early in the paper.
- Clear organization of ideas: Is the movement from one paragraph to the next clear?
- Development of each idea in the paper: Is each idea that supports the central idea clearly related to the main idea? Does it provide reasoning about the main idea or evidence to support that reasoning?
- Documentation of sources: Has the writer used quotation marks around any words that come from a source and provided a parenthetical citation or footnote (depending on the style guide the class is following) for any quoted material? Has the writer quoted a long enough passage that it should be indented (no quotation marks around indented material, but a citation will be needed)? Has the writer paraphrased adequately so you are not plagiarizing? Has the writer included a bibliography?
- Has the writer come to a clear conclusion, that does not include new ideas that were not mentioned in the rest of the paper?