Everyone needs an editor. Editors work with journalists, writers, and scholars helping them to create a really worthy piece of writing in this or that sphere. You also need assistance with your written educational assignments while at the college or University, thus you can improve them and succeed in your studies.
When you are a student you are lucky to take advantage of peer editing. Have you heard anything about the process? We are sure you have! If you are not a freshman, most likely you have done it even without knowing it! Did you ask your friends to help you with some of your essays or research papers, to look through your work and help to improve it? Did you revise some written assignment of your fellow students and provide advice on making it better? It was the peer editing in force.
Peer editing is actually an act of editorial revision of a written work of your classmate.
Sometimes educators use this method in their classes on purpose, then it may become a trial for their students. Young people are often reluctant to criticize their friends' works, lack confidence to do it or have little motivation for such tasks as they don't influence their grades directly.
Nevertheless, if done in the right way, peer editing brings benefits not only to the writer but to the editor as well.
Let's study some hints and tips below to make the process helpful and stress-free for both parties.
Depending on the way it's realized the procedure of peer editing may be variable - you can either do it in a group in class or review someone's else work alone. The latter variant allows you to go in more depth with the piece of writing you revise. Anyway, you should:
1. Read the whole paper and judge it later.
The first reading should be without any remarks or corrections, your main intention here is to understand the general theme of the work, its main points and structure, the style of the writer and whether the arguments fit together. You should focus on such questions as:
- Does the paper meet the requirements of the assignment?
- Does it have a clear arguable thesis, which goes well beyond the obvious?
- Is the thesis supported with proper arguable evidence?
- Is the structure of the paper good and smooth?
- Does the introduction pack a punch with the conclusion?
All these aspects matter as no matter how good the paper is, there will be troubles if its theme is not the one assigned. Too many ideas, which are not linked to each other or not related to the thesis will also cause problems, the work should focus on the best arguments supporting the statement put forward. Broad generalizations and dictionary definitions do not benefit to the work either.
2. Read for the second time and edit.
At this stage, keep your pen prepared for remarks and maybe some questions you have to the writer, note some drawbacks you have noticed and also highlight the strong parts of the paper.
Here its also essential to keep it in mind that grammar is not all, if the paper has grammar issues, but also lacks a strong statement, the later problem has priority. You should become an intended reader here and focus on the content, organization, and style.
Nevertheless, grammar mistakes, awkward phrases, spelling mistakes, and typos should not be neglected as well.
It's important to note positive as well as negative. When you underline certain positive aspects of your fellow student's work, you make him more acceptive and positive to your criticism.
3. Develop a peer editing checklist.
It's a good idea to develop a checklist for your editing activity and check the works in accordance with certain standards, plan, and scheme. Such an approach will also help you structure your own thoughts and will be more clear to the writer. There are plenty of checklist samples online, some of them can be provided by your professor, but the best idea is to create your own worksheet for a feedback so that it meets the requirements of the written assignment under review and convenient for you to work with.
We have described above the three stages of the peer editing process, we'd also advise following the three important steps while providing comments on the work you review.
Do it as Compliments, Corrections, and Suggestions.
Remember that looking through someone's paper you help a person to improve it, that's why it's important to stay positive and always to start with what you find good in the piece of writing you edit. Underline what you think the author has done well, find at least three reasons to make compliments to the writer.
Here it's important to be specific, avoid vague phrases. If your suggestion is in the sphere of word choice - make it clear. "I think the word ''good'' is better to change for ''exceptional" in the first paragraph". You can ask the writer to provide more details, change the sequence of the paper paragraphs, to expand the sentences, or make them shorter, but stay precise.
It means checking the paper for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. You can underline, circle or use the editing marks for such corrections. As they are subject to quite definite grammar rules, here you may feel free to make corrections to all the mistakes of such kind. Sometimes the authors enthusiastic and focused on the subject of their research may simply have blurred vision to such "trifles" as grammar.
We can't but also mention here, that for the writers it's important to respect their editors. When you ask someone to review your paper - state the aim of the editing clear -either you need the consistent review, or ask your friend to prompt you the mistakes you have missed. Here is a hack to you - to find the errors, which you may have missed, read your work aloud sentence by sentence backward. This strategy will help you eliminate surface-level mistakes and save the time of your editor.
No matter if you are a writer or an editor, keep it in mind that the peer editing is just looking into your work with another set of eyes. The person, who does it for you just provides his or her opinion as to your assignment, but it has nothing to do with personal attitudes or attacks. All the comments made are about the writing, not the author. Be honest, but delicate and constructive as an editor and accept the other person's opinion and see what you can improve as a writer.