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Peer Review Guidelines, Public Writing
Like the last peer review, this peer review will be structured in the response letter format, with each paragraph following a set structure. Each paragraph should begin with a topic statement, proceed with a claim, develop that claim with a sub-claim, support the sub-claim with evidence, analyze the evidence, and transition to the next paragraph. This is standard operating procedure in the academic peer review process, and a worthwhile genre to practice in its own write.
Paragraph 1: Offer a holistic assessment of the public writing and accompanying author’s note. What works, what doesn’t, why, and why not? Which of the following assessment areas do you see as the writer’s strength, and weakness? Overall, does the documentmeet public needs (conceptualize that for yourself, based on your topic)while addressing contemporary, widely known matters? Does the author’s note sufficiently explain the publicconcern the document is designed to address, and support those claims with sufficient textual evidence?
Paragraph 2: Does the author’s noteoffer a clear definition of the public writing genre? The author’s note should make abundantly clear what the public document’s readers and writers’ expectations will be, and the roles that those readers and writers play with respect to public needs/concerns. What values – political, moral, ethical, otherwise – does the public document argue for, in a society (again, conceptualize this for yourself)? How might the public document more effectively and thoroughly address those concerns?
Paragraph 3: Does the writer maintain a consistent focus on public concern – perhaps indirectly – and maintain a uniform voice? That is, does each section of the document advance the purpose of the document while addressing a public need? Does the document read like it’s been written by the same writer? Public writing, more than most other types of writing, demands an announced perspective and approachable voice. This is demonstrated through clear, direct sentence structure and active voice and strong verbs; does the writer write in such a style? Does the author’s note identify exemplary moments of “voice” that characterize the paper, and relate those moments to the public need being addressed?
Paragraph 4: Does the writer address prominent or otherwise influential members of the public? Does the writer link their project to others’ work, either explicitly or implicitly? Does the author’s note speak to the broader public concerns informing the writer? In the author’s note, are other documents cited as exemplary pieces or models? Does the public writing document cite other relevant public documents that might advance its interests?
Paragraph 5: Briefly, comment on the writer’s mechanical/grammatical proficiency. Are there patterns of error and/or misuse that impair the reading process? Questionable citation (or lack thereof) decisions? Formally, does the abstract “look right?”
Paragraph 6: Conclude with your suggested “next steps.” If you were the writer, what would be your next steps? What’s your major takeaway, from your reading? Don’t summarize earlier material, but it might be helpful to emphasize with suggestions and/or observations deserve priority status. This paragraph may be shorter than the rest.