Peer Review

On your computer, open the following tabs on a browser:

  • Your partner’s article
  • This page (the peer review prompt)
  • A new post. Title your post: (Your name)’s Review of (your partner’s name)’s magazine article. Keep this post in “edit” mode for the duration of Parts I – III of the workshop; you’ll be writing your impression of your partner’s article into this post.

Copy and paste the questions below into the new blog post easily between the article and what you need to write about it.  For this particular peer review exercise, you will not be taking turns. Rather, you will be reading each other’s work at the same time, taking notes in your open blog post, and discussing your findings at the end of the session.

Part I: First Impressions (15 Minutes)

On separate devices (laptops/tablets) read each other’s articles once.  This first read is important as it simulates how out audience is going to interact with this article. Once you have read the article, consider the following questions:
1. Can you explain in a sentence or two what this article is about? Write these sentences down. If you are struggling to summarize the article easily, this is important information for your writer. Write down as clearly as you can what you find difficult to understand about the purpose of the article.
2. Is the author successfully targeting our audience (first year students at JMU)?  The purpose of the article may be clear, but is the author making rhetorical choices that will convince our audience to keep reading? If the purpose of the article isn’t clear, is part of the reason because the author doesn’t have our target audience fully in view? Explain your answers as clearly as possible with reference to the article where possible.
3. Based on your understanding of genre, is the author using a specific genre? Does it work? If you are not sure, make a note to ask your partner about their choice of genre and how the draft puts the conventions of that genre into practice.
Reading With Media

Part II: Reading with Media (20 minutes)

1. Read the article again, this time looking for flow between the various media elements. At this stage, your partner should have drafts of the media they are using.  For photographs and other kinds of images:
  • Do they complement the writing?
  • Has the author effectively used the caption function to explain the image or present additional writing on the subject?
  • Has the author been thoughtful about image size and the placement of the image within the post?
  • Does the post have a “featured image” (i.e. an image at the top of the post)?
  • Does the author use various elements of our WordPress theme (such as quotations, chapter headings)? Are they well incorporated into the piece? Do they, in your view enhance or detract from the reading experience. If they can be improved, what advice would you give to your author?
2. If the author has used embedded media such as videos, maps, timelines, prezis etc, the consider the following questions:
  • Has the author properly introduced the media so the reader knows what to expect from it, or understand how to use it?
  • Does the author refer to the media afterwards? Does s/he analyze the media, summarize it, or draw the reader’s attention to particular aspects of it? If so, is the author’s approach effective? Explain how their analysis and/or summary of the media might be improved.
  • Does the media enhance your experience of the author’s topic? If so, how? If not, how does the media distract you? In either case, highlight what you liked about the media and how might be improved.
  • If the reader interacts with the media by clicking “play”, then consider the following:
    • Is the media an appropriate length? (Did it go by too quickly or slowly?)
    • If there is sound, is it of good quality?
Explain your answers to the above questions as clearly as you can.
3. Do you have suggestions about different kinds of media the author could use to enhance their article? Would an infographic be useful? More images? A timeline, or a map?

Part III: The Devil’s in the Details (15 minutes)

  • Read your partner’s piece once more, this time looking for paragraphs and sentences that do not cohere. Does the author have a clear point for each paragraph?
  • Are there sentences that are too long, or that do not make sense?
  • Does the author make good use of evidence (quotes, references)?

Copy and paste examples into your post (including paragraphs), asking your author specific questions about these problematic sentences or passages. Offer advice on how to fix them where possible.

Part IV: Let’s have a chat (20 Minutes)

Finish up your post and publish. Ask your peer review partner to look at your notes. As you are reading together, be as constructive as possible: praise your partner for things they have done well, and give constructive advice on the things that need to be fixed. You have ten minutes to do this. Once you are done,  swap over, and let your partner guide you through his/her ideas on your article.


Make a note in your Work Samples and title it “The Magazine Peer Review Challenge.” In that note, make links to:
  • your peer review of your partner’s article
  • your partner’s peer review of your article
  • and a link to your own draft.

You will be referring to your note for your homework, which is available in the homework notebook in Evernote.

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