Term Paper

More on Peer Editing

As described in the project summary, each of you will act as an editor for one of your peers. On Wednesday, in week 10, you and your peer editor will exchange drafts and make constructive comments, which will help improve the quality of your paper before the first draft deadline on Friday that week.

As you are editing the work of one of your peers, you should start by praising what the document does well. If the author has made specific requests (i.e. “please see if my argument in this section makes sense to you”) then spend much of your time responding to these specific requests. Do not focus on spelling and the mechanics of writing, unless asked by the author to do so, or unless you have very general comments. (Of course, note problems of this sort which you happen to spot, but this is not your main goal and the author should in general not rely on you for this sort of editorial review.) Instead, focus on helping the author to revise content, organization and logic. Do not just criticize. Make suggestions on how to solve the problems you notice in the paper.

As you edit the work of your peer, here are some of the questions which you should be thinking about:

  • What is the paper’s main argument?
  • How interesting is it? Is the importance of the topic explained?
  • How specific is the argument? Would it benefit from being made more general or complete? Or would it benefit from being made more focussed?
  • Is the paper divided into sections and subsections in a way which makes following its logic easy? Does each section flow logically from the preceding one? Do ideas flow smoothly from one paragraph to the next?
  • Early in the text, is there a clear road map of the entire document?
  • Are all outside sources documented? If, as will be the case for almost all 8.06 papers, the paper contains ideas which are not the results of calculations done by the author and are not ideas we have all seen in lecture, can you see from which source the author learned each such idea?
  • Are all technical terms which are new to you defined clearly, and used consistently?
  • If the paper presents the solution to a problem, what are the arguments on which the solution rests? Do you understand each argument and the solution as a whole? Is each part of each argument substantiated? (Either by calculation presented in the paper, or by reference to 8.05 and 8.06 material which you can see substantiates the argument.) Is there anything missing, which would help complete an argument?
  • If the paper describes a phenomenon, do you understand the description? Is the nature of the phenomenon clearly described? Are the reasons why the phenomenon is of interest clear? Do you understand the quantum mechanical explanation of the phenomenon presented by the author? What do you wish the author had included that would have given you a better understanding of the phenomenon?

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