Okay, so there’s death, taxes, and last minute crazy scrambles before conference travel. I know this. I’ve known this since 1984, when I was taken to my first 4Cs [no, that has nothing to do the official anything of the Davis family]. Why I ever imagine it will be different is beyond me.
Anyway, I leave y’all with the peer review instructions I’m leaving my science students to perform on each other’s Research papers [really, literature reviews] about issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed:
Reviewing is a tedious, but serious, part of being a professional. All those peer-reviewed journals out there? Yes, the peers doing the reviewing are performing gate-keeper roles, but they are also supposed to be looking carefully at how well-constructed the arguments are, and how accurately the writers have represented their sources/their data. One day you might get to be one of those reviewers [it’s a sign your opinions matter to the rest of that audience].
But for now, you get to review each other’s work in class.
The first step in this review process is to have everyone in the group read [or have someone read out loud] the Introduction/scope section of the document.
Make your predictions for the rest of the paper, and write those down. What should be covered in the paper? In what order? What reason do they give for the importance of this topic? Do you think they are tackling the right sub-topics? Why or why not?
Now, for each subsequent section, read, then discuss what you’ve learned from the paper.
Write: Did you get what you expected? If not, what did you get instead? In either case, was the material broken into reasonably-sized paragraphs? Were there subheadings to help direct your attention? What kinds of literature were they citing, and what makes you think they have covered the topic well? If you think there are gaps, what kind of information would you like them to provide? [This is not a guarantee that they can actually _get_ that information, but it will help them to know what you were expecting!] Are there visuals [diagrams, maps, charts, data] to help support the points they are making?
When you get to the end of the draft, write out what do you think of the conclusions. How well are those conclusions supported by the group’s review of the literature? What other paths might that group consider? Were there areas that went beyond the scope set out at the beginning of the paper? Should those areas be trimmed out, or should the scope be adjusted?
At this point, you can take the draft apart — each group member should take a section of the paper and go over it to assess how well it is written — write on the draft and make your recommendations on how the writers in the other group could make it better. Write your name on the section of the draft that you review, so you can get credit later.
MAKE SURE you get the draft, and your group’s analysis of the draft back to the other group as soon as possible!
For Thursday, the groups should be able to have their own drafts back in their hands, and the task is to post a statement summarizing what you’ve learned from your reviewers and what you are going to do about it before turning in the final version next Tuesday when I’m back in town.