Peer Response 3

Your comments and advice are not restricted to the numbered items below: if other ideas for improving the paper occur to you, share them. And in a tactful way, be mean!  Be critical! Be helpful! Your response should be at least 1.5-2 pages in length.

Email your completed response to your classmate and "cc" it to

1. After reading it through a first time, state your initial impression of the paper.

2. Evaluate the introduction and make suggestions for improvement. Consider:

  • Is the intro too brief (which would be anything less than half a page)?  Suggest how the intro could be developed more effectively: avoid saying just that the paragraph needs more—make suggestions specific.
  • Does the author answer the question before raising it?  If so, advise against this practice and suggest other introductory tactics.
  • 3. Copy the topic sentence of each body ¶: it should be the first sentence in each body ¶. If there is no obvious topic sentence in any body ¶, suggest one.  Make suggestions for improving existing topic sentences—note that each topic sentence should answer the intro question squarely and directly. Also underline and evaluate the thesis statement, which should appear in the conclusion.

    4. Evaluate the author's presentation and refutation of opposing views.  If the author appears to agree with all views in the body of the paper, tell him or her the paper is likely to fail!  Suggest opposing views, answers to the question that the author might argue against.  If the author does include opposing views, consider their effectiveness: are they developed and explained thoroughly enough?  Refuted well?  Suggest improvements.

    5. Point out ¶'s that lose focus by getting away from the initial point stated in the topic sentence (think of repeating "key words" throughout the ¶): should any ¶'s be split up into smaller units? Also consider whether any two ¶'s seem to be addressing the same fundamental point and might be better combined.

    6. Identify the weakest point in the body of the paper (weakest in content) and make concrete, specific suggestions for improvement. Saying that no body ¶ is weak is not an option: if you think all body ¶'s are strong, reread them all carefully and decide which is less strong than the others.

    7. Identify the second weakest point in the body of the paper (weakest in content) and here, too, make concrete, specific suggestions for improvement.  And again, saying there is no "second weakest" is not an option.

    8. Make specific suggestions for improving underdeveloped paragraphs: don't just say "expand" or "elaborate" make precise suggestions. 

    9. Identify places where the paper needs more evidence or illustration to make points more effective and offer specific suggestions.

    10. Evaluate the effectiveness of the conclusion. If the conclusion is less than half a page in length, suggest specific ways of expanding the paragraph: use the expression "for example," and then give actual suggestions.

    11. Suggest improvements in the author's use of quotations. Suggest specific passages from the readings question that the author might quote to illustrate better the paper's primary assertions. Suggest improvements in the introduction of quotes (Nugget 3).

    12. Any quotations requiring more thorough explanation before or after they are given?