Peer Review

Peer reviews
  • enable writers to receive multiple perspectives on their work.
  • empowers rhetors to identify instances when multiple reviewers share critiques.
  • helps students develop their intrapersonal competencies--competencies that are highly valued in the workplace.

Peer Review

  • refers to efforts by two or more people to evaluate written work or performances of others.
  • is a process for vetting truth claims.

Contrary to the myth of the isolated author in the garret, successful writers do not work in isolation. Writers collaborate extensively. Writers often crowdsource critiques of their works by colleagues.

Peer review has always been an important part of the writing process. Using language is inherently a social process. When the first cave man started doodling on the cave, he probably had critics looking over his shoulder, suggesting he hold the brush a different way, mix the paint differently, perhaps make the buffalo appear fiercer, and so on. As an integral component of writing, many people get their best ideas by discussing issues and drafts and by accounting for readers’ responses to their documents. Thankfully, new communication technologies make it easier to collaborate than ever before possible.

Advice from peers provides a counterbalance to the deeply subjective nature of feedback from just one person (see Critique). Rather than take direction from just one person, peer review texts empowers writers to crowdsource the ongoing development of practices.

Peer review is a popular practice in academic and workplace contexts:

  • In school settings at the high school and college level in the United States, students are asked to conduct multiple reviews of their classmate’s work. This practice is especially commonplace in composition, creative writing, professional writing, and technical writing courses.
  • When researchers across academic and professional disciplines submit articles and books for publication or grant proposals for funding, those works are peer reviewed.
  • In the law, Circuit Court judges may work en banc. The twelve judges of the Supreme Court peer review legal arguments.

Peer review is popular among writing faculty who believe

  • students can learn from one another when afforded the opportunity to read and critique one another’s works.
  • students can learn when multiple readers share the same sorts of criticisms and suggestions.
Peer review: an abstract painting of five eyes staring a person reading a page

Anonymous Peer Review

This refers to instances when the reviewers are anonymous. When funding and publication decisions occur in professional, technical, and academic writing, decisions are typically made via Anonymous Peer Review.

In instances where the outcome will have a lot of weight, it is commonplace to assign multiple anonymous reviewers.

The size of the review panel is somewhat dependent on the importance of a decision.


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