Guidelines for Students - Peer Review

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006

"As a peer reviewer, your job is not to provide answers. You raise questions; the writer makes the choices. You act as a mirror, showing the writer how the draft looks to you and pointing out areas which need attention." - S. Williams (Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa's Writing Program)

This page includes a number of tips and suggestions to provide to students before completing their first peer review assignment. A number of these guidelines have been compiled from the University of Richmond's Writing Center and University of Hawaii at Manoa's Writing Program. Instructors may want to discuss these guidelines with students during a peer review practice session.

Student guidelines for peer review

  • Before you even make your first comment, read the document all the way through.
  • Make sure you leave enough time for you to read through, respond, and for your peer to edit his/her document with your comments before any deadlines.
  • If you are provided with a feedback form to fill out and something is unclear, do not ignore the item but ask the instructor for clarification.
  • Point out the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the document.
  • Offer suggestions, not commands.
  • Editorial comments should be appropriate and constructive. There is no need to be rude. Be respectful and considerate of the writer's feelings.
  • Be sure that your comments are clear and text-specific so that your peer will know what you are referring to (for example, terms such as "unclear" or "vague" are too general to be helpful).
  • As a reader, raise questions that cross your mind, points that may have not occurred to your peer author.
  • Try not to overwhelm your peer with too much commentary. Follow the feedback form and the issues you are supposed to address.
  • Be careful not to let your own opinions bias your review (for example, don't suggest that your peer completely rewrite the paper just because you don't agree with his/her point of view).
  • Reread your comments before passing them on to your peer. Make sure all your comments make sense and are easy to follow.
  • Avoid turning your peer's paper into your paper.