5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Reading A Paper

Updated February 6, 2023 · 1 Min Read

3 things to keep in mind when preparing for a peer edit: Keep your vocabulary focused on the crucial parts that can make or break a paper.

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Peer edits are a great way for students to assess a classmate’s work while giving them ideas to improve their own work once the review is over. While not all classes will require peer edits, students who are majoring in literature, history, or pre-law will find it more commonplace in their courses, so being prepared for a peer edit is crucial. As well, you may be looking for other tips for editing your paper. If so, take a look at our fantastic guide: How to Write a Research Paper... And Get an A+. Students learn a lot from a peer edit. They will learn whether their message or thesis is clear if their arguments are easy to follow, and if they have substantial materials to back up their claim. They will also learn what it feels like to read another person’s work, giving them insight on what it might be like for their instructor when they are grading papers. The best way to prepare for a peer edit is to keep the three things below in mind. It’s not necessary to nitpick a person’s vocabulary or how they phrase their sentences, but rather keep your peer edit focused on the crucial parts that can make or break that paper. Take a look through and then practice peer editing yourself.

1. Follow the Thesis

The thesis is generally found in the first paragraph of a paper, which sets the tone for the rest of the piece. It can also be found, in various forms, throughout the entire paper, especially the conclusion. While you’re peer editing, see if you can figure out what the thesis is.
  • Does the paper and its main points support that thesis?
  • Is there any information that is included that contradicts the stated thesis?
  • Does the writer of the paper stick to the thesis, using all the available information possible to make the thesis clear?

2. Clarity and Competency

Clarity and competency are crucial in a peer edit. It will show the writer if their ideas come through easily and are well thought out. The lack of clarity or competency in the ideas or the execution will be things that the student you are peer editing will need to work on. Ask yourself these following questions:
  • Do you know what the paper is about?
  • Does it make its points with strong ideas that are articulated well?
  • Can you tell who the intended audience of the paper is?
  • Is the introduction clear with a thesis?
  • Does the conclusion wrap up the paper succinctly?

3. Quality of Content and Style

The way the content was written showcases a lot about the writer. By peer editing the paper, you can provide valuable insight in how that student is presenting themselves. Start by looking for clues of passive voice or tentative words by the author. Also, check for a heavy reliance on data and a little time spent on explaining more difficult concepts. These are all signs of an uncertain author, so make sure you bring these things up to your classmates; after all, you’d want them to do the same for you.

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