Feedback helps writers to improve their writing. Before asking someone else to read it, however, writers need to go through their text carefully themselves. Here we provide checklists for
Reading your own text
Although it may be difficult to spot mistakes in one's own texts, the following advice might be helpful:
Read the text aloud
When reading your text aloud, you will be in a better position to identify problems such as inaccurate sentence structure and inaccurate use of punctuation. It is also easier to get a grip on the flow of the text when it is read aloud. Missing transitional devices will become apparent, for instance, as will repetitive use of certain words and phrases.
If there is time, wait a few days
If you can leave your text for a few days before revising and proofreading it, you might find it easier to spot mistakes and incongruences.
Look at the text from different perspectives
Do not read your text only from beginning to end, but make sure to check that the structure is coherent, that your argument is logical and that your conclusions are based on your analysis.
Use your experience
Look at previous essays and texts on which you have received feedback. What kinds of problems have been identified by teachers and peer reviewers? Check your new text for these problem areas.
Reading someone else's text: Peer reviewing
Peer reviewing and other collaborative types of editing
Many writers submit their text to peers for feedback of different kinds. For instance, in courses students work in peer groups, and papers and chapters by PhD students are scrutinised in departmental research seminars. Although writers might feel intimidated by the idea of submitting their texts to other people, texts usually improve as a result of being questioned and commented on.
The task of the peer reviewer is to help the writer sharpen his or her argument and improve his or her texts. By reviewing other writers’ texts, peer reviewers also train their own analytical abilities. Encountering different ways of structuring a paper, of presenting facts and arguments, etc., gives the peer reviewer an increased understanding of the possible ways of composing an essay.
An example of peer-review guidelines is provided below. These guidelines can also be used by writers themselves as guidelines for revision, of course.