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4.5: What Does Peer Review Look Like in Technical Communication?

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    Revising and editing are the two tasks you undertake to significantly improve your essay. Both are very important elements of the writing process. You may think that a completed first draft means little improvement is needed. However, even experienced writers need to improve their drafts and rely on peers during revising and editing. You may know that athletes miss catches, fumble balls, or overshoot goals. Dancers forget steps, turn too slowly, or miss beats. For both athletes and dancers, the more they practice, the stronger their performance will become. Web designers seek better images, a more clever design, or a more appealing background for their web pages. Writing has the same capacity to profit from improvement and revision. When you revise and edit, you take a second look at your ideas. You might add, cut, move, or change information in order to make your ideas clearer, more accurate, more interesting, or more convincing.

    After working so closely with a piece of writing, writers often need to step back and ask for a more objective reader. When they are ready, writers show their drafts to someone they respect and who can give an honest response about its strengths and weaknesses. You, too, can ask a peer to read your draft when it is ready. After evaluating the feedback and assessing what is most helpful, the reader’s feedback will help you when you revise your draft. This process is called peer review. You can work with a partner in your class and identify specific ways to strengthen each other’s essays. Although you may be uncomfortable sharing your writing at first, remember that each writer is working toward the same goal: a final draft that fits the audience and the purpose. Maintaining a positive attitude when providing feedback will put you and your partner at ease.

    The forms that follow provide possible frameworks for the peer review session:


    1. The audience for the document is
    2. The purpose of the document is
    3. What I most liked about this document is
    4. These three features struck me as your strongest:
      1. Feature:
      2. Why:
      3. Feature:
      4. Why:
      5. Feature:
      6. Why:
    5. These places in your document are not clear to me:
      1. Where:
      2. Needs improvement because:
      3. Where:
      4. Needs improvement because:
      5. Where:
      6. Needs improvement because:
    6. The one additional change you could make that would improve this essay significantly is


    Name of Draft Author:

    Name of Draft Reviewer:


    First, describe the style of feedback you would like to receive from your reviewer (e.g., be kind or be supercritical). Then, identify at least three specific concerns you have about your draft and ask your reviewer for feedback (e.g., is my formatting consistent throughout the document).

    Style of Feedback Preferred:

    Concern 1:

    Concern 2:

    Concern 3:

    Any additional concerns?

    If your partner is not familiar with your project, make sure to give him or her a brief description.


    Read your partner’s draft and answer the following questions. If appropriate, you can include your feedback on your partner’s draft.

    1. Review your partner’s concerns. Provide feedback. Focus on being specific and detailed in your responses.
      • Concern 1:
      • Concern 2:
      • Concern 3:
    2. Are there any places where the author’s writing is unclear, vague or could use additional detail? If so, identify and suggest a way of making the writing more clear and concrete.
    3. Any additional concerns?
    4. Are there any places where the author’s writing can be more concise? If so, identify and suggest a way of making the writing more concise.
    5. Be charitable and describe something the draft does well.
    6. Be critical and describe something that the author could improve.
    7. Include any other impressions or comments about this piece of writing.


    This page titled 4.5: What Does Peer Review Look Like in Technical Communication? is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Chelsea Milbourne, Anne Regan, Morgan Livingston, & Sadie Johann.

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