Stop! In the Name of The Writing Law!

Okay, okay, I admit it. 

I have been a terrible peer reviewer before.

I’m not completely alone on this, right? …Right? Does anyone admit to this fatal mistake too? Don’t leave me all alone with this…

Fine, I didn’t want to be your friend either.

Today, I’m going to talk about what not to do when you are peer editing. I don’t believe that all this silence means that everyone in the world are amazing peer-reviewers. We all have those moments where we honestly do not want to do anything when it comes to revising a paper that’s due…what? A few weeks after this peer-edit. Personally, I absolutely love editing papers because I grow as a person. I get to see other perspectives and see through someone’s else’s mind and let’s admit it, we all want to get that one paper that isn’t finished to make our ‘crappy’ draft seem a lot better. When I come out of peer editing, I am of three moods: ecstatic(because my paper is freaking amazing compared to others), nervous(because my paper totally sucks and everyone else’s is phenomenal), or confused(because I didn’t understand what I was actually writing about..).  So what makes people bad editors? Any ideas?

Hint: Watch the video! 


There are many different types of reviewers. I admit that I’ve been ‘Jean the Generalizer’, ‘Whatever William’ and ‘Picky Patty’ before. Sometimes, I’m nit-picky about grammar and sentence structure and other times, I’m like ‘Whatever William’ and don’t really want to be doing this. Another time, I’ve been ‘Jean the Generalizer’ but, in my defense, there were things that were needed to be fix before fixing the more specific things. I understand that there are those days where you do not, for whatever reason, want to do peer-editing, and hopefully you’ll have’Get Out of Jail Free’ cards lying around but when you do want to be productive, here are a few suggestions I thought I’d share with you. 

-Give compliments(What better way to make a person smile than to compliment their writing)

-Give Constructive Criticism( Please do not make them cry…)

-Explain your comments and listen to their defenses( Hey! Everyone, including you and the writer, make mistakes)

- Ask Questions( If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask about it. You might learn something new instead of assuming) 

Oh dear…I’ve done it again. I’ve become ‘Jean the Generalizer’. But within reason, if I were to give you specific suggestions, you would only look for those in the paper. Now that I’ve broaden the horizon, you’ll be able to keep an eye out for anything!


Good luck on your peer-editing, you’re going to need it!


P.S. Who else laughed at ‘Mean Margaret’? I definitely remember those type of editors in school…

What type of peer-editor did you mostly see at school? 



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4 thoughts on “Stop! In the Name of The Writing Law!

  1. I totally agree with you. I was definitely a horrible peer reviewer and with this class I have definitely gotten better at it. Yes, I am not the best at it still but I have gotten better at it. I also agree with you in the fact that I have gotten better with writing my own papers. It helps me realize some of the common mistakes that other writers make. This way I can also analyze my own papers before somebody else does. And yes i will not pick up all the mistakes myself, but if can analyze my own papers before someone else does my paper will be even better.

    With analyzing other papers I was always what you called “Whatever William” or “Jean the Generalizer” and this class has helped me look a deeper into peoples papers. I just have to say I appreciate what this class has fought me so far.

  2. I agree with you Brianna. I am a terrible peer reviewer. I am never specific enough. I always read the entire paper and re-read sentences to make sure I do not miss anything. But for some reason I always turn out to be ‘Joey the Generalizer.’ It is not always due to lack of effort (although that is sometimes the reason) but also just do not see anything to critique because I do think that people can have great first drafts if they spend a quality amount of time on it. But a second or third or maybe even fourth set of eyes is even better.

    • I did not mean to post that comment yet, sorry.
      As for your “rules” of grading. I completely agree with you. Giving compliments always makes the writer more open to criticism. Which leads to your second point of constructive criticism. It is the most helpful thing that can a peer reviewer can do. I always enjoy when a lot of criticism has been given to me so I know where and how I can effectively better my paper. It is the best when an editor explains their comments in specific examples. And asking questions between the editor and the writer is a great way to even think of better ideas. In my opinion, people can learn a lot from asking each specific questions.

  3. I can relate to your point easily and appreciate your honesty. I admit I have been a bad peer reviewer before due to not caring enough or not liking the person. I know it is rather immature, but it was a difficult correction to make. I would like to think that now days I am a better peer reviewer, but not perfect by any means. I tend to be a little too “honest” with people on a peer review, which I am currently trying to correct. I really enjoyed your post, especially the video. If I may add one thing to your peer review process… You can easily be your own peer reviewer by reading your paper out loud. If you stumble while reading it, you may need to make some corrections. If it flows smoothly, then it is likely a good paper. Thanks again for the post. I look forward to reading more from you.

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