Peer Editing Exercise

YOU MUST CONTRIBUTE A PAPER IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN TODAY'S PEER EDITING EXERCISE (IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A PAPER, PLEASE LEAVE).  ALSO REMEMBER THAT THIS IS AN EXERCISE IN READING AND WRITING, NOT TALKING.  YES/NO ANSWERS ARE ALSO NOT APPROPRIATE. YOU MAY TALK, HOWEVER, DURING OUR LAST 15 MINUTES TODAY (YOU WILL SHARE FEEDBACK WITH YOUR AUTHORS, AND I WILL CHECK IN WITH YOU ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE).

Directions:  You should spend at least 30 minutes on each paper you peer edit.  Read each paper through once.  Then, as you reread it, write answers to the following questions on separate sheets of paper (notebook paper is fine).  During the last 15 minutes of class, give your comments to the paper's author; talking is okay during our last quarter hour.  Before you begin, ask the author if it is okay to write on his/her paper.

FOCUS:  What is the paper's focused topic?  Is the example sufficiently narrow?  Why do you think so?  Does the paper generalize too much?  Does it include too much information?  Remember that the secret to writing a good paper is to say more about less.  Is the focused topic present in every paragraph except background one?  If you see a problem, make some suggestions. 

THESIS:  Does the paper have the kind of thesis that offers a controversial idea about the focused topic?  A qualification and a reason why are also required.  If the paper does not have these features or if they could be improved, offer some suggestions.  Here is the model:  "Although..., I will argue that...because...."  Is the "although" clause in a true opposition to the "I will argue that" clause and/or the "because" clause?  Remember that the thesis must include and be about the focused topic, that all three clauses should ideally be about (and include) the focused topic, and that the thesis must engage with one of our texts.  Often the secret to writing an effective thesis is to use your focused topic to argue for a controversial idea about something that we read.  Reading "against the grain" is usually more fruitful, but reading "with the grain" is also fine. NOTE: DO NOT BURY THE FOCUSED TOPIC IN THE "BECAUSE" CLAUSE AS IF IT WERE AN ARGUMENT. THE FOCUS IS NOT = AN ARGUMENT!

BACKGROUND:  Does the paper have at least two background paragraphs?  One should deal with the textual connection that appears in the thesis (it should not just summarize that text; it must identify and develop something specific).  The second should explain the focused topic.  Does the paper clearly distinguish between background and argumentation?  (It is a problem to introduce background information in the argument section or to do argument in the background section.)  If there is a problem with organization, explain why.  Remember that you need at least a paragraph for background on the reading material, a separate paragraph for background on the focused topic, and at least a paragraph for arguments. 

ARGUMENT/OBJECTION/REPLY:  Create a double "T" chart:  one column for arguments, another for objections, and a third for replies.  List arguments, objections, and replies on the chart.  Then ask yourself:  Do the arguments support the thesis?  Do the objections object to arguments?  Do the replies directly reply to objections in order to reaffirm the arguments (and thus the thesis)?  Has the author included a concession in the reply paragraph?  Point out any disconnections and suggest revisions.  Remember that the arguments should support the "I will argue that" clause in the thesis and that the "because" clause should be one of the arguments.  The argument paragraph's topic sentence should echo the language of these clauses.  Also remember that the objection paragraph should develop the content of the "although" clause.

CONCLUSION:  WHO AM I?:  Does the paper adequately answer the questions "Who am I?" and "So what?" in the conclusion?  If not, make some suggestions about how to do so. What has the author learned as a result of writing the paper?

WORKS CITED LIST:  On your comment sheet, suggest any needed corrections to the Works Cited list.

LOWER-ORDER ERRORS:  What lower-order errors does the paper include?

Key points about papers Here is a list of points to remember.  Watch out for them in each other's work as you peer edit.