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Conducting Effective Peer Reviews

A guide for effectively participating in the peer review process.

When You're Reviewing Others' Work

When you're reviewing something that someone else has written, your feedback should be:


  • Not specific: "There are run-on sentences throughout your paper, so make sure that you fix them."
  • More specific: "There are run-on sentences throughout your paper. One example is in your first paragraph where you state 'My aunt was like my superhero she was smart and kind.'"
  • Most specific: "There are run-on sentences throughout your paper. One example is in your first paragraph where you state 'My aunt was like my superhero she was smart and kind.' You can fix that by splitting the sentence apart- 'My aunt was like my superhero. She was smart and kind.'"

For every piece of specific feedback, it is helpful to...

  • identify the issue
  • provide an example
  • provide a possible solution

Why is specific feedback important?

  • Your classmate may not understand the issue.
  • Your classmate may not know how to fix the issue once you point it out.



Some students fear the peer review process because they don't want to offend a classmate.

If your feedback is provided with specific information to help classmates correct issues, you are doing them a favor by working with them toward improving their grade.


Honesty is important in the peer review process, as is professionalism. Some advice to keep your comments CONSTRUCTIVE:

  • Phrase comments in the positive. Avoid use of the word NOT.
    • Negative: You clearly do not know how to write a thesis statement.
    • Positive: I'm unable to locate your thesis in the first paragraph. Can you point me to the argument you're making?
  • Avoid accusatory statements beginning with YOU, which can sometimes sound confrontational.
    • Confrontational: You aren't formatting this essay correctly.
    • Congenial: I think there might be some issues with your APA formatting.
  • Respect privacy and boundaries. The conversations that you have in the peer review process are between you and the content creator, and should not be shared outside of your review group unless it is required for completion of an assignment.


Key takeaways for REVIEWERS:

  • Look at the whole package. Essay presentation and content are both typically a part of an assignment's grade. Consider any rubrics associated with the activity, the requirements of the assignment, and any issues your instructor has identified in your own writing. Previous assignment feedback is a great indication of what your instructor tries to locate when grading student work.
  • Note questions, and don't be afraid to ask them. Pose questions to the essay's owner to clarify any sticking points you noticed in their writing. It's likely they thought connections were obvious, while others may not recognize those connections. These are areas they will likely need to correct for their final draft. Pose questions to the instructor for any assignment components needing further clarification.
  • Provide corrections and resources, but don't rewrite someone's paper. Give them enough information to identify issues and fix them on their own.


Peer review is a CONVERSATION. A conversation needs to have at least two people present!