What is peer-reviewing?
Peer reviewing is a common activity at university, both among students and among senior researches. Although the principle is the same, peer reviewing among students looks slightly different from the peer review process carried out before scholarly texts are published in journals, for instance.
Student peer reviewing
Students are often asked to peer review other students' writing. Here, peer thus means another student, usually in the same course, who can be expected to have a similar level of education and a similar level of understanding of the general topic dealt with in the text (although the student writer will probably have more expert knowledge of the particular aspect of that topic).
Scholarly peer reviewing
When an author has submitted a text to a journal, for insatance, it will be reviewed by other scholars within the field. Depending on the assessment and comments of the peer reviewers, the manuscript will then be accepted or rejected by the publisher / editor. Sometimes, an article will be sent back by the editor to the author, with a request for major revisions. Articles that are accepted often have to go through minor revisions before being published.
Peer reveiwers of scholarly work will usually receive instructions from the publisher covering what to comment on and how to assess the text.
Reading someone else's text: Student peer reviewing
Many writers submit their text to peers for feedback during the writing process. In courses students might work in peer groups and review each other's work-in-progress, for instance, and papers and chapters by PhD students are often scrutinised in departmental research seminars or read and commented upon by assigned readers. Although writers might feel intimidated by the idea of submitting their (unfinished) texts to someone else, texts usually improve as a result of being questioned and commented on.
The task of peer reviewers is to help writers sharpen their arguments and improve their texts. By reviewing other writers’ texts, peer reviewers thereby also train their own analytical abilities. Encountering different ways of structuring a paper, or of presenting facts and arguments, gives the peer reviewer an increased understanding of alternative ways of composing an essay.
The video below presents some fundamental aspects of peer review work at university:
Instructional video from the free online MOOC "Writing in English at University" which was developed at Lund University in 2016.
Here you will find peer review guidelines for students:
Peer review instructions
When you receive feedback, it is important that you make use of it in a way that helps you develop your text. See here for some advice: