Peer Review

Description: A peer-review letter provides feedback to an author’s in-progress (but hopefully nearly completed) work. The job of peer reviewers is (1) to read a text in relation to the values of a particular publication venue, the venue’s audience, and the disciplinary conversations the audience/venue espouses, and (2) to provide constructive feedback to an author based on the text’s effectiveness at reaching those values.


  • to learn more about the genre of “peer reviews” in a scholarly publication setting
  • to analyze the genre and convention expectations for GWRJ articles so that you can use that criteria as formative assessment tools
  • to practice addressing your analysis to a specific audience (an editor, with a secondary audience of the authors)

Due Date:

  • 2pm, Wednesday, February 22. Upload to the Dropbox folder /peer-reviews/ with the file name “short_article_title-YourFirstName” as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file.

Instructions: Your role in this assignment is to function as a reviewer/editorial board member of the GWRJ publication, to help the editors decide whether this revised submission is ready for publication, still needs revisions (in relation to the venue criteria), or is not appropriate for the journal. As a peer-reviewer, you are an expert in the field and are qualified to evaluate this piece of  scholarship. Write from that voice/knowledge.

  1. Pick a submission to the GWRJ journal. These have been through developmental editing and are now ready for peer review. The options are available in our Dropbox “R&Rs” folder. You cannot use the Quilts example; the other six are fair game.
  2. Situate yourself within the venue. Using the knowledge we’ve gained through in-class discussions, homework assignments, readings in GWRJ, and the GWRJ editors’ forum, you should have a somewhat clear sense (as clear as the editors have) about Grassroots’ mission, vision, and the kind of work they’re looking to publish.  You’ll need to read the submission in relation to those values.
  3. Read/review the submission. With the venue’s values in mind, read the submission “generously” (meaning, give yourself some time to figure out how it works, why it works the way it does, and, if there are places in the text where you’re not sure — or don’t like — what an author has done, try to figure out what their reasoning for doing it that way was). Take notes on how and why you react/respond to the piece as you read. Any evaluation criteria you use should be touchstones for explaining how/why you read the piece as you did. In other words, does the piece meet the values/expectations/criteria of Grassroots? Does it miss anywhere? For all questions such as this, the questions “Why” and “How” will probably need to be addressed in your review letter. From your notes, figure out the main points of feedback/revision that you want to address and begin to summarize your thoughts.
  4. Write the review letter. Write a 1-2(ish) page, single-spaced letter that will be given to the authors. Discuss how the piece meets (or doesn’t meet) the journal’s submission criteria and values. The letter should be addressed to the Editors of GWRJ, should be more formal than colloquial, and should contain feedback that is constructive and  revisionary, if you have any (and you should have *some* revision suggestions).

Suggestions for drafting the letter:

  1. The beginning paragraph of the letter often summarizes the submission’s purpose back to the editors/author, to ensure that you understood the piece and evaluated it with the criteria/venue in mind.
  2. Remember that the editor of the publication is your audience but that the editor often sends your letter to the author, so the language should be helpful and respectful.
  3. Make sure that your revision suggestions are clear.
  4. This assignment requires you to take on a genre you may have never written before. It is not a literary or rhetorical analysis; it analyzes a still-tentative text and offers the author insight into how readers will interpret it in the specific context of the journal as well as insight into how to make the piece better fit that context through developmental/global revision suggestions.
  5. Do not attend to grammar or copy-editing issues unless the piece is so overwhelmingly poorly written that you cannot parse it. (And none of these examples are like that.)