Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Homework for April 25 and May 2


We have five assignments.

You will:
  1. read a sample
  2. write your paper
  3. improve your paper
  4. share your paper with peers from another discipline
  5. provide feedback




 

FIRST ASSIGNMENT



Before April 25: read all three versions of the following writing sample 
  1. original version
  2. version 2, with Vince's comments, and 
  3. final edited version


When reading, pay attention to

  1. The opening sentence: Does it clearly state the author's contribution to his or her field? (see ppt slides and writing samples)
  2. Topic sentences: Does the first sentence of each paragraph analyze and interpret your main argument? (see http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/03/topicsentences.html)
  3. Transitions between paragraphs: Does the author connect her ideas in a way that helps the reader follow her ideas? Or does she simply use clever or stock phrases that have no connection to her ideas. (e.g. "On the other hand,..." when only one idea has been mentioned)
  4. Active voice: Is each sentence written in active voice? If not, does the author have a good reason for using the passive voice? (see http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/04/passive-voice.html)
  5. Articles: Is the author using "a / an" and "the" appropriately? (see http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/04/articles.html)


 

Original version - technical writing sample

view on Google Docs ▸ http://j.mp/Todai_orig


“Information terminal for emergency using energy harvesting technology”


Introduction
Japan is the country where a lot of natural disaster such as earthquakes or typhoons exists every year. When the power failure take places because of the disaster, a lot of people might check out information on the disaster by first using their cellular phones. However, when the battery is low and other batteries are not stocked unfortunately, either it is difficult to understand present own situation. In order to overcome such problem, some researchers have been proposed a power generator that harvesting energy from the human motion like shaking, rotating, etc., for charging the phones.


Energy harvesting from human body and information terminal
The adult male obtains 2000 kcal from food in a day, and uses 75% among them for the basal metabolic rate. The rest of energy, 500 kcal, corresponds to 200 AA-size alkaline batteries. Therefore, if energy harvesting from the human motion can be changed into the electric power, it is possible to operate various devices. However, actually, a heavy exercise that pedals the bicycle for several hours is necessary to charge with the battery of the latest cellular phone full due to its variety of function. This means not only the power generator but also novel information terminal is indispensable for their purpose.
Here, I suggest the single-function device that displays information data received from digital broadcasting airwave. This device would consist of an e-paper, flash memories, tuner ICs, and a power generator. Since those electric components consumes only several hundreds of µW, the terminal could work with even small energy harvesting from body temperature or walking vibration. That is, it comes to obtain vital information easily only by wearing this terminal without regard to batteries.


Conclusion
The reliability of the cellular phone is low as the information terminal for the emergency due to battery problem. Because it is difficult to charge with the cellular phone with a manual dynamo, the development of new information device that consumes low power is necessary. My idea is the mobile device, which consists of low-power consumption components, can be worked with small energy harvesting from body temperature or waking vibration. The terminal works might be useful because important information could be obtained without the battery like crystal radio anytime and anywhere.




 

Technical writing sample - version #2 (with Vince's comments)

view on Google Docs ▸ http://j.mp/Todai_comments

*Please note - comments may not be visible in all browsers.

Therefore, please ask your instructor for a hard (paper) copy prior to April 25

You can also try viewing this update (pasted below)http://j.mp/Vince_comments


Information Terminal for Emergency Using Energy Harvesting Technology  [TITLES: You should not use quotation marks when writing the title of your paper. Also, you should capitalize only the first word of the title. Write your title like this: Emergency information terminal using energy harvesting technology]


Introduction
[PARAGRAPH FORMATTING: Please remember to indent three to five spaces when starting a new paragraph. Alternatively, you can add an extra line (hit the "enter" or "return" key twice) between each new paragraph. Be sure to follow whichever style your professor, department, or publication prefers. If none is indicated, then just be sure to pick on style and use it consistently.]

Japan is the country where a lot of natural disaster such as earthquakes or typhoons exists every year. [CONTRIBUTION: Most if not all of our readers will know that Japan is disaster-prone. Is that the point of your research? It seems that you are proposing devices that could be used anywhere. Therefore, I encourage you to start your paper with your main idea, which is now in your last paragraph, second to last sentence. Start your essay with a sentence like this: I propose developing a mobile information terminal to help people access information in the event of a power failure caused by a natural disaster. Please read my explanation in the FOOTNOTE] 

 When the a power failure take places because of the a disaster, a lot of people might check out information on the disaster by first using their cellular phones. However, when the battery is low and other batteries are not stocked unfortunately, either it is could be difficult to understand one's present own situation. In order to overcome such problem, some researchers have been proposed a power generator that harvesting energy from the human motion like shaking, rotating, etc., for charging the phones. [WORDY: I suggest you make this sentence more concise by cutting unnecessary words. You already identified some human motions (walking) earlier in this paragraph. Thus, I think you can delete these details without damaging your reader's ability to understand your idea. See my explanation and tips here: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2012/04/wordy.html]



Energy harvesting from human body and information terminal [TOPIC SENTENCES: Is this phrase your section heading? If so, trying including the key words into your topic sentence. Please see the edited version for my suggested change. See my explanation and tips here: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/03/topicsentences.html]
The adult male obtains 2000 kcal [ACRONYMS: Spell out the full term the first time, then abbreviate afterwards. See my explanation and tips here: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/03/acronyms.html] from food in a day, and uses 75% among them for the basal metabolic rate. The rest of energy, [AWKWARD: I suggest writing “The rest of the energy…” or, if you want to cut words and be more direct, “The remaining 500 kcal…”] 500 kcal, corresponds to 200 AA-size alkaline batteries. Therefore, if energy harvesting from the human motion can be changed into the electric power, it is possible to operate various devices. However, actually, [TRANSITIONS: You do not need to use two transitions. I suggest cutting "actually."] a [ARTICLES: You should delete this "a" because it is unnecessary. See my explanation and tips here: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/04/articles.html] heavy exercise that pedals the bicycle for several hours is necessary [ACTIVE VOICE: You can write this sentence using active voice. Try identifying the ‘actor’ who would pedal the bicycle. You can use a general word like ‘user.’ Here is an example: A user would need to pedal a bicycle for several hours in order to charge the phone’s battery. See my explanation and tips here: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/04/passive-voice.html] to charge with the battery of the latest cellular phone full due to its variety of function. This means not only the power generator but also novel information terminal is indispensable for their purpose.

Here, [TRANSITIONS: Where? "Here" is a weak transition that might confuse readers. Instead, I suggest using "Therefore," or "Thus…”] I suggest the a single-function device that displays information data received from digital broadcasting airwave. This device would consist of an e-paper, flash memories, tuner ICs, and a power generator. Since those electric components consumes only several hundreds of µW, the terminal could work with even small energy harvesting from body temperature or walking vibration. That is, it comes to obtain [ACTIVE VOICE: You can write this sentence using active voice. See my explanation and tips here: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/04/passive-voice.html] vital information easily only by wearing this terminal without regard to batteries.



Conclusion
The reliability of the cellular phone is low as the an information terminal for the emergency emergencies due to battery problems. Because it is difficult to charge with the cellular phone with a manual dynamo, [AWKWARD: Your readers are unlikely to know this uncommon term. I suggest using "generator" instead.] the development of new information device that consumes low power is necessary. My idea is the mobile device, which consists of low-power consumption components, can be worked with small energy harvesting from body temperature or waking [PROOFREAD: Wrong word (you mean "walking" not "waking"). To catch this kind of error, be sure to proofread by reading aloud at full volume (slowly). Spell check would not catch this kind of mistake since "waking" is spelled correctly. See my explanation and tips here: http://www.vinceprep.com/essays/spellcheck-errors] vibration. [CONTRIBUTION: Start your essay with this phrase. This is your core contribution. See my explanation and tips here: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2010/05/cochrane.html] The terminal works might be useful because important information could be obtained [ACTIVE VOICE: I suggest using active voice here. You can identify the subject as "people". Here is my suggested change: Using such a terminal would help people access critical information anytime and anywhere, even without a battery. See my explanation and tips here: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/04/passive-voice.html] without the battery like crystal radio [CONCLUSIONS: It might be true that your device would function like a crystal radio, but I do not think you need to make such a comparison, especially not in the final sentence of your paper. Most readers probably do not know much about crystal radios, so the comparison adds little value to your argument.] anytime and anywhere. [This modifier is misplaced. I suggest you rewrite the sentence like this: Using such a terminal would help people access critical information anytime and anywhere, even without a battery.]



FOOTNOTE

How to determine the main idea and contribution of your paper

  • Don’t start by describing your methods: “I analyzed mobile information terminals and found many issues related to power failures and natural disasters.” 
  • Instead, focus on your main idea, like this: “A single-function emergency information terminal using energy harvesting technology would allow users to access important information during natural disasters. ”
  • Distilling your main idea will take some thought and effort. 
  • You might need to rewrite your paper several times. 
  • You might also need to write your discussion section first. 
  • After confirming the terminology and methods described in your discussion section, write your conclusion. 
  • Then, determine your main idea.
  • Once you decide your main idea, help readers to get it quickly by putting it in your introduction. 
  • Your introduction should include the purpose of your research
  • What specific question will you explore? How does it fit with previous research? 


Why you should start your paper with your main idea
  • Your readers are busy and impatient. 
  • Most of them will not read your entire paper from start to finish. 
  • Instead, most readers will skim your text looking at topic sentences, key words, and headings in order to understand what you are talking about. 
  • After they form their initial impressions, they might review each sentence to understand your logic and methods. 
  • How can you catch and hold their attention during their initial skim? 
  • First of all, be sure to include your main idea and contribution in your first paragraph.
  • Most writers get this wrong. They do not tell us the contribution of their paper until the end of the paper. 
  • Please do not make this mistake.


 


 

Final, edited technical writing sample

view on Google Docs ▸ http://j.mp/Todai_edited



Emergency information terminal using energy harvesting technology
Department of Materials Engineering, The University of Tokyo
7-3-1 Hongo, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan

Introduction
I propose developing a mobile information terminal to help people access information in the event of a power failure caused by a natural disaster. My device would utilize low-power consumption components. Best of all, it could be charged by harvesting energy from body temperature or the vibrations produced by walking or other simple motions.
When people lose power due to a natural disaster, they might use their cellular phones to access news and information. However, if their cellphone battery is low and they do not have spare batteries, they might not be able to access information. In order to overcome such a problem, some researchers have proposed charging phones by using a power generator that harvests energy from human motion.



Discussion
-->
If energy harvested from human motion could be converted into electric power, it would be possible to operate various devices. Humans produce enough energy to power portable disaster information terminals. In one day, the adult male obtains 2,000 kilocalories (kcal) from food; he uses 75% of this energy to maintain basic life functions including circulation and respiration. The remaining 500 kcal is roughly equivalent to the energy contained in 200 AA-size alkaline batteries. However, due to the intensive power consumption of modern “smart phones”, a user would need to pedal a bicycle for several hours in order to charge the phone’s battery. Such activity is not sustainable. Thus, alternative information terminals should be used instead of fully functional mobile phones.
I propose the creation of a single-function device to display information data received from digital broadcasting airwaves. This device would consist of e-paper, flash memory, tuners, and a power generator. Since those electrical components consume only several hundred µW, the terminal could obtain and distribute vital information powered by energy harvested from physical activity. Thus, users could utilize the information from this terminal even when traditional power sources are not available.



Conclusion
In closing, cellular phones are not reliable information terminals in the event of an emergency. One cannot rely on power terminals, and it would require too much effort to charge a full-feature cellular phone with a manual generator. Therefore, effort should be made to develop a new information device that consists of low-power consumption components that can be powered by harvesting energy from human body temperature or motion. Using such a terminal would help people access critical information anytime and anywhere, even without a battery.







SECOND ASSIGNMENT



Based on the samples above, write a single one (A4) page proposal for a piece of writing in your field.


Answer the question: 

  • What are you working on right now? (Explain your current research to someone from a different academic discipline.)




Include three sections
  1. Introduction
  2. Discussion
  3. Conclusion 



• Target length: between 450-600 words

On May 2, you will share it with peers who are NOT in your field, so be sure to explain complex terms using simple words that anyone could understand.









THIRD ASSIGNMENT



• Improve your writing based on Vince's April 25 lecture
• Please be to read and follow these tips 






FIVE WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING: HOMEWORK FOR MAY 2

 

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POINT ONE – CONTRIBUTION


What is a contribution?

·      A contribution includes an addition to your field’s overall knowledge.
o   For example, “I propose developing a mobile information terminal to help people access information in the event of a power failure caused by a natural disaster.”

It is the main idea of your paper, and the main purpose of your research.

It answers questions like:

·      What are you researching?
·      What are you trying to discover, prove, or create?
·      How do you plan to add value to your academic field?

How can I identify and express my contribution?

·      Figure out the one central and novel contribution of your paper.
·      Write this contribution down in your first sentence.
·      As with all your writing, this must be concrete.
o   Don’t write, “I analyzed mobile information terminals and found many issues related to power failures and natural disasters.”
o   Instead, explain what the central results are. For example, “I propose developing a mobile information terminal to help people access information in the event of a power failure caused by a natural disaster.”
·      Distilling your ideas into one central contribution will take some thought.
·      Once you do it, though, you’re in a much better position to focus the paper on that one contribution, and help readers to get it quickly.
·      Most writers do not tell us the contribution of their paper until the end of the paper.
·      This seems to be especially true in Japan, where writers are taught to put their main idea at the end of their papers (lines 61 – 63 on page 2).
·      Please do not make this mistake when writing in English (lines 140 – 141 on page 6).
(Modified from http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2010/05/cochrane.html; accessed 2012/04)


In class exercise
·      Find and circle your contribution. 
·      If you cannot find your contribution, or if it is spread out across several sentences, spend a moment crystalizing your ideas into one clear contribution sentence.
·      Then, draw an arrow to the top of the page. Your contribution goes at the top!

Homework #1: Reorganize and write your paper so that your contribution appears in the first sentence.


 

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POINT TWO – TOPIC SENTENCES



What is a topic sentence?
·       The topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph.

What does it do?
·       It introduces the main idea of the paragraph.

Why are topic sentences important?
1.     They give your paragraph focus.
a.      If your topic sentences are not clear, then the rest of the paragraph most likely won’t have a specific focus or will be incoherent.
2.     They help your readers.  
a.      Your readers are busy and impatient.
b.     They want to know your main idea first.
c.      They read the first sentence of every paragraph, looking for your main ideas.
d.     Then, they quickly review the other sentences.
e.      If someone only read your topic sentences, would he or she be able to understand your contribution and supporting ideas?

In class exercise
·       Circle the first sentence of each paragraph.
·       These are your topic sentences.
·       Read them all to yourself, one after the other (four or five total sentences).
·       Now, ask yourself this question:
o   If a reader only read my topic sentences, would he be able to understand my contribution and main ideas? 

Weak topic sentences from student’s original technical writing sample (page 2)


1.     Japan is the country where a lot of natural disaster such as earthquakes or typhoons exists every year.
2.     The adult male obtains 2000 kcal from food in a day, and uses 75% among them for the basal metabolic rate.
3.     Here, I suggest the single-function device that displays information data received from digital broadcasting airwave.
4.     The reliability of the cellular phone is low as the information terminal for the emergency due to battery problem.

Re-written and improved topic sentences from technical writing sample (page 6)


1.     I propose developing a mobile information terminal to help people access information in the event of a power failure caused by a natural disaster.
2.     When people lose power due to a natural disaster, they might want to use their cellular phones to access news and information.
3.     If energy harvested from human motion could be converted into electric power, it would be possible to operate various devices.
4.     I propose the creation of a single-function device to display information data received from digital broadcasting airwaves.
5.     In closing, cellular phones are not reliable information terminals in the event of an emergency.


Homework #2: Re-write your topic sentences so that they best express your contribution and main ideas. 
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POINT THREE – TRANSITIONS



What is a transition?
·       Transitions indicate the connections and relationships between your ideas and sentences.

In class exercise
·       Find and underline the transitions in technical writing sample - version #3 (final, edited, on page 6).

Why are transitions important?
·       Transitional words and phrases help you write clearly and coherently. Moreover, such transitions help the reader follow the text, stay focused, and understand how your main ideas are related to one another.

Why are transitions dangerous?
·       Improper transitions can confuse readers. For instance, the use of the transition "Here, …" (see line 52 on page 2) in the sample is not correct because it indicates direction, but that is not the author's intention. This choice confuses the reader. Better to use a transition that indicates consequence, such as "Therefore,” or “Thus,”.

Which transitions should I use?
·       The following list illustrates categories of "relationships" between ideas, followed by words and phrases that can make the connections:
1.      Addition: also, again, as well as, besides, furthermore, in addition, likewise, moreover, similarly
2.      Consequence: accordingly, as a result, consequently, for this reason, for this purpose, hence, otherwise, subsequently, therefore, thus
3.      Contrast and Comparison: conversely, instead, likewise, on one hand/on the other hand, on the contrary, rather, similarly, yet, but, however, still, nevertheless, in contrast
4.      Emphasis: above all, chiefly, especially, particularly, singularly
5.      Exemplifying: chiefly, especially, for instance, in particular, markedly, namely, particularly, including, specifically, such as
6.      Illustration: for example, for instance, as an example, in this case
7.      Sequence: at first, first of all, to begin with, in the first place, at the same time, for now, for the time being, the next step, in time, in turn, later on, meanwhile, next, then, soon, the meantime, later, while, earlier, simultaneously, afterward, in conclusion, with this in mind
8.      Similarity: comparatively, correspondingly, likewise, moreover
9.      Summarizing: after all, all in all, all things considered, briefly, by and large, in any case, in any event, in brief, in conclusion, on the whole, in short, in summary, in the final analysis, in the long run, on balance, to sum up, to summarize, finally

Which transitions should I NOT use?
·       Try to avoid “restatement” transitions in formal writing. Rather than writing phrases like “in other words,” “that is to say,” or “to put it differently,” try improving your writing so you can express yourself effectively in the first place. 
o   Exception: you might want to use transitions like “in other words” in TOEFL writing, since you might get extra “points” for additional content (longer is better as long as quality is high). Since you are unlikely to have time to edit your TOEFL writing, restating your key ideas using phrases like “in other words” might help your reader / grader understand your main idea. By contrast, when submitting papers for publication (or to your professor), you have to time to proofread and edit. Therefore, take time to produce clear, concise writing when submitting papers for a grade and/or publication.

In class exercise
·       Find and circle the transitions in your paper.
·       Ask yourself, "Do my transitions express the connections between my ideas?"
·       Are my transitions misleading in any way?

Homework #3: Re-write your transitions so that they best express the connections between your ideas.




 

POINT FOUR – ACTIVE VOICE

 


Example of active voice

Part of speech
Subject
Verb
Object

Sentence
The group
will present
the report
next week.

Example of passive voice

Part of speech
Subject
Verb
Object

Sentence
The report
will be presented
by the group
next week.



What is active voice?
·       The subject does the action? Let’s define it together.

How can you tell if a sentence is active?
·       Ask yourself, "Who/What does the action?" If the answer is clear, the sentence is active.
o   Example: The students tested the samples.
o   Example: The samples failed.

Why use active voice?
·       Where possible, use the active voice. It is direct, brief, and easy to understand.


What is passive voice?
·       The passive voice places the emphasis on the action, rather than the actor. Let’s discuss.  

How can you tell if a sentence is passive?
·       The direct object is placed before the verb, which is given in the passive form. The subject, or actor, is usually not mentioned.
o   Example: The samples were tested.

Why use passive voice?
·       Passive voice is used frequently in technical (and academic) writing, where the focus is usually on what was done rather than who did it. It is conventionally used to report experimental procedure and to avoid constant repetition of I or we throughout the report, paper or thesis.
·       Use passive voice for a specific purpose, not simply out of habit.
·       In order to use passive voice correctly, it is necessary to understand, and be able to recognize, the difference between passive and active voice.






In class exercise
·       Find and circle all examples of passive voice in your paper.
·       Do they fit one of the five reasons below?

 

Five reasons for using the passive voice

 

1. The 'actor' is not known.
·       Oil was discovered off the coast of Australia.
·       The number of Internet users was estimated to be over one million.

2. The 'actor' is not important.
·       The report has been published.
·       The results will be presented at the conference.

3. It is considered desirable to conceal the identity of the 'actor'.
·       The results are invalid, as the correct testing procedure was not followed.          
·       Research funding will be cut next year.

4. An impersonal tone is needed for academic writing.
·       In this report, the stress fields in a C-shape plate will be analyzed.
An impersonal tone is also used for describing processes.
·       First, the raw materials are loaded into a container ...

5. A tactful tone is needed to smooth over an error or difficulty.
Compare these two examples.
·       Example of passive voice: The samples were not checked at the second stage . . .
·       Example of active voice: We forgot to check the samples . . .




Homework #4: Find all passive voice sentences that do not fit one of the five reasons. Then, change them into active voice 

 


 

POINT FIVE – ARTICLES



What is an article?
·       Basically, an article is an adjective. Like adjectives, articles modify nouns.

English has two articles: the and a/an.
·       the = definite article used to refer to specific or particular nouns
·       a/an = indefinite article used to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns; "A/an" is used to refer to a non-specific or non-particular member of the group
o   For example, if I say, "Let's read the book," I mean a specific book. If I say, "Let's read a book," I mean any book (a non-particular book) rather than a specific book.

Omission of Articles

Not all nouns need articles. Some common types of nouns that don't take an article are:
  • Names of languages and nationalities: Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian (unless you are referring to the population of the nation in general: "The Spanish are known for their warm hospitality.")
  • Names of academic subjects: mathematics, biology, history, computer science

In class exercise
·       Find and circle all of the articles in your paper.
·       Can you tell which nouns require definite and indefinite articles, and which require no article at all?

Homework #5 – Find and fix any mistakes in your use of articles. 

In addition to MS Word spell check, you might try Vince's "Google that stuff" (GTS) method.
1.     Put your article phrase in quotation marks and search Google (.com English version, not co.jp).
·       Example: "the veracity of a theory" (I could not find any instances of "a veracity of a theory." Therefore, this phrase always uses the definitive article ("the")
2.     If professionally edited sites (not personal blogs) use the phrase as you have written it, then your articles are probably correct.
3.     On the other hand, if you only find a few examples, or none at all, then you should probably use a different article, or none at all.

Try Vince's GTS method with the following phrases:
Can you find any indefinite article phrases for the following? (I could not.)
·       "The Data Encryption Standard"
·       "the Earth's crust"
·       "the opposite polarity"
·       "the power of reasoning"
·       "the Secure Sockets Layer"
·       "the theory of relativity"

I found instances of both definite and indefinite articles for the following phrases:
·       "a carbon footprint" and "the carbon footprint" (e.g. of The carbon footprint an iPhone)
·       "a symbiotic relationship” and. "the symbiotic relationship" (e.g. The symbiotic relationship between humans and domesticated animals)
·       "an outlier from the data" and "the outlier from the data" (e.g. How does removing the outlier from the data affect the mean and the median?)

Vince's final observation: I believe the process of learning English articles is somewhat similar to the process of learning Japanese counter words (josūshi 助数詞), which are used along with numbers to count things, actions, and events. Someone learning Japanese simply needs to memorize the proper use of these unique grammatical structures. Perhaps English articles are similar in this regard. Therefore, if you read (and write) English every day, you will eventually develop instincts to differentiate definite and indefinite articles.











PEER REVIEW

Peer review lesson plan for May 2


• Print and bring four printed copies of your paper to our May 2 class
• You will exchange papers with your peers from different academic disciplines
• You will fill out the form below

Author________________________
Reviewer______________________

The goals of peer review are 1) to help improve your classmate's paper by pointing out strengths and weaknesses that may not be apparent to the author, and 2) to help improve editing skills.
INSTRUCTIONS
Read the paper(s) assigned to you twice, once to get an overview of the paper, and a second time to provide constructive criticism for the author to use when revising his/her paper. Answer the questions below. 
STRUCTURE (30%)
1. Were the introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion adequate? If not, what is missing?

2. Was the material ordered in a way that was logical, clear, and easy to follow? Why or why not? Explain with details.

CONTENT (30%)
3. Did the writer adequately summarize and discuss the topic? Why or why not? Explain with details.

4. Did the writer merely summarize existing data or publications?  

WORD CHOICE (20%)
5. Are the words specific and accurate? Does the writer use strong action verbs whenever possible? Are the adjectives as descriptive as possible? Are the nouns specific, not general? Why or why not? Explain with details.


GRAMMAR AND STYLE (20%)
6. Were there grammatical or spelling problems? Did the writer use active and passive voice appropriately?

7. Was the writer’s writing style clear, appealing, and full of energy? Why or why not? Explain with details.






What is peer review?


"As a peer reviewer, your job is not to provide answers. You raise questions; the writer makes the choices. You act as a mirror, showing the writer how the draft looks to you and pointing our areas which need attention." - Sharon Williams

How to provide helpful feedback

  • Read a draft all the way through before you begin to comment on it.
  • Give yourself enough time to read and respond.
  • Point out the strengths of the draft.
  • When discussing areas that need improvement, be nice. Offer appropriate, constructive comments from a reader's point of view.
  • Make comments text-specific, referring specifically to the writer's draft (NO "rubber stamps" such as "awkward" or "unclear" or "vague," which are too general to be helpful).
  • Avoid turning the writer's paper into YOUR paper. 
  • Don't overwhelm the writer with too much commentary. Stick to the major issues on the feedback form that are problematic.
  • Make sure your suggestions are reasonable (i.e., don't suggest that they totally rewrite the paper because you didn't agree with the author's point of view or didn’t like the topic).
  • If something appears too complicated to write in the commentary, just mention that you have something that you would like to talk to the writer about when you discuss the draft afterward.
  • Before giving your written comments to the author, reread your comments to make sure they are clear and make sense.

(found at http://mwp01.mwp.hawaii.edu/resources/peer_review.htm; accessed 11/2010)




What types of comments are constructive and helpful?

  • Be respectful and considerate of the writer's feelings.
  • Use "I" statements.
  • Offer suggestions, not commands.
  • Raise questions from a reader's point of view, points that may not have occurred to the writer.
  • Phrase comments clearly and carefully so that the writer can easily understand what needs to be improved.
  • Make sure comments are constructive and specific (not "This paper is confusing. It keeps saying the same things over and over again" but rather "It sounds like paragraph five makes the same point as paragraphs 2 and 3.").


(found at http://mwp01.mwp.hawaii.edu/resources/peer_review.htm; accessed 11/2010)