- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial

How to Edit Academic Papers for Peers?

While most students do not want to be critical of their classmates, when it comes to proofreading other students essays or term papers it is important to be honest. Boldly tell the students what they have done by using a checklist. Many instructors have checklists for their students to use, but if they do not then create your own or use the following checklist. Remember to show the positive things as well as the negative. Peer proofreading often can help improve a student's grade. Peer editing actually helps the student to learn to be critical so he/she can learn to correct his/her own mistakes.

Peer Editing and Proofreading

Peer editing is a student taking time and effort to carefully read the peer's rough draft of an essay or term paper. The student needs to identify any areas that need improvement and show any problems with the thesis statement, evidence, introduction, conclusion, or transitions. Often a student may not be able to see his/her own mistakes because they are too close to their work. A peer can share his/her opinion about the work and help the student to make improvements. Sometimes students do not take serious the critique of his/her peer and the student's grade will show this lack of seriousness because the mistakes will not be corrected. Most students appreciate the time and effort spent by the peer.

Here is a checklist for peers to use when editing or proofreading someone's essay:

· The first step is checking to see if the student has met the requirements of the essay. Has all the instructions been followed?

· Check to see if the margins and spacing is set correctly.

· Does the essay have unity throughout the paragraphs? Did the student use transitions from one paragraph to another?

· Did the student use a hook or an attention-getter? Does the first paragraph lead you to want to read more? Are there any statistics, anecdotes, facts, or examples used to create interest in the essay?

· Is the thesis statement clear? The thesis statement should be like a map telling the reader why the essay is important and what can be expected.

· Did the student support all the main ideas?

· Does the conclusion leave you with a take-away value that leaves you thinking about the essay?

· Has the student used any clichés?

· Does the sentences flow smoothly? Do the paragraphs flow smoothly from one to another?

· Are there any spelling mistakes? Check the dictionary if necessary. Read each word out loud to check for accuracy. Remember there are man words that the spell checker will not find as wrong such as its and it's.

· Did the student make correct citations for any quotations? Did the student use both quotation marks?

· Did the student put his name on the paper?

Use this checklist in doing the peer editing. Check all punctuation, spelling, transitions, and quotations for accuracy. When you think about the time and effort put into editing a peer's essay, think about how you want your essay to be edited. The old saying, “Do to one another as you would have them do to you.” Take time to read the essay out loud. Listen to the sound of the sentences as well as the paragraphs. Check for any mistakes in the punctuation. Let the student know what you think about the topic. Is it interesting? Does it have evidence that supports the thesis? Does the essay seem to lack something?

The editing should include more than just negative comments. It should include positive comments such as: Does the thesis statement make sense? Does the student use transitions between paragraphs? In fact, when using the checklist, do not just put negative comments but add positive comments about what the student has done correctly. Let the student know it is a good topic. Do you like the statistics? What did you think about the anecdotes? What are some positive things the student has done? While making negative comments is important for the student to improve, it is also important to let the student know what he/she has done correctly. Think about how you want to be treated and do the same for your peer.