A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley

Founder
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Below are some common questions to consider when reviewing a peer's paper as well as when reviewing feedback from peers:

Focus

  • In what ways have you fulfilled the assignment requirements in terms of purpose, length, audience, required/appropriate sources, appropriate persona/tone, and rhetorical stance?
  • What makes your thesis arguable, controversial, and/or insightful?
  • How does your thesis reflect your paper's purpose?
  • How have you advanced your thesis through convincing and compelling ideas?
  • How does each paragraph—along with all the sentences it contains—support your main idea?

Evidence

  • How credible are your sources?
  • How can you demonstrate the source's credibility to the reader?
  • In what ways can you provide supporting details to best back up your claims (i.e., anecdotal evidence and hypothetical examples)?
  • How are your sources or details relevant to your thesis and purpose?
  • Can the reader distinguish between your ideas and those of your sources?
  • How can you better integrate your sources and details into your argument instead of letting them speak for you?
  • How much of the quote is vital to make your point?
  • What might be a more appropriate approach for this sourced material (i.e., summary, paraphrase, quotation)?
  • Where is the evidence to back up this assertion?

Organization

  • In what ways does your opening engage your reader?
  • How do your topic sentences relate to your thesis?
  • How do your topic sentences indicate the purpose of each paragraph, and within each paragraph, how do all of your ideas pertain to the topic of the paragraph?
  • Where do you use appropriate transitional language to connect ideas between sentences?
  • In what ways do you preview or signal to your reader? In other words, how might you give your reader a heads-up before you shift ideas ("segue") as well as a nod toward the ideas that have come before?
  • How does your conclusionanswer the "so what" question?
    • In what manner have you reiterated your ideas?
    • In what way have you provided a call to action and/or a contextualization?
    • With what have you left your reader to think about at the end of your paper?
  • In what ways does your paper organization reflect the classical argumentation style?
  • In what ways does your paper organization reflect the Rogerian argumentation style?
  • How can these ideas be arranged in a more logical order?
  • How have you distinguished between main ideas and details?
  • In what ways might you improve the flow or cohesiveness of your paper?

Style

  • How might you address the grammatical issue(s) (subject/verb agreement issues, pronoun reference problems, run-ons/fused sentences/comma splices, fragments, dangling or misplaced modifiers) that occur(s) throughout your essay?
  • Can you identify places in your text where either punctuation is missing or where the purpose of this punctuation is unclear? How might you correct these punctuation issues?
  • What is the appropriate point of view for this text based on your audience and purpose?
  • You tend to use less explicit descriptions (such as clichés, qualifiers, wordy constructions, overuse of prepositional phrases, vague constructions). How might your discussion be more precise and engaging?
  • How might you revise this sentence to make it clearer, more active, more convincing, and more connected to other sentences or ideas?
  • Are there places in your paper where the word choice is inappropriate (conversational, archaic, stilted, sexist, racist, etc.) for your audience? What might be more appropriate?
  • How might you include more sentence variety in your paper?
  • How might you engage your reader by incorporating more figurative language (anecdote, narrative, simile, metaphor, dialogue, personification)? How might you offer more valid comparisons using these techniques?

Format

  • How might you make your paper formatting more compliant with the accepted documentation style (i.e., MLA guidelines)?
  • How might you format your in-text citations so that they're more compliant with the accepted documentation style?
  • How might you format your annotations so that they're more compliant with the accepted documentation style?
  • How might you format your works cited page so that it's more compliant with the accepted documentation style?
  • How might you format your block quote so that it's more compliant with the accepted documentation style?
  • How might you format the punctuation surrounding your quote so that it's more compliant with the accepted documentation style?
  • How might you more effectively integrate multimedia components into your assignment so as to improve your document design?
Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham

Editor-in-Chief
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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