Term paper, stage six: Peer critiques of drafts

For this stage of the term paper process, each of you should turn in, both to your peer-review partner and to me, a fully-elaborated, careful critique of your peer-review partner’s paper. This critique might take the form of a letter; you should use this letter to help your partner improve his or her paper by giving the author constructive and specific criticism and advice. Some questions to help guide your response are below:
What is your sense of the author’s argument? Restate that argument in your letter — this will help the author to make sure that their intended argument is coming across to the reader. If you have difficulty discerning what the paper’s argument is, say so. If you have a clear sense of the argument, but feel that it could be made more complex or interesting, suggest how the author might go about improving things.
How well substantiated is the argument? How important is the theory to the author’s argument? How well does the author use evidence from the texts to support his or her points? Are there places where the evidence presented might have been more carefully analyzed? Are there places where you needed more evidence? Are there places where your interpretation significantly differs from the author?
What is the experience of reading the paper like? Is the paper coherent and fluid, or could the sentence-level writing use help? Are there other problems, whether mechanical or argumentative, that you want to draw the author’s attention to?
Finally — and most importantly — how interesting do you find the paper? Does the author give you a good sense of the “so what?” factor? If not, how can the author make the importance of his or her argument more apparent?

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