Peer Critiques for Deep Dive Papers

Today we’ll do some peer critique.  People have often said that they come to understand their work most deeply when they talk and write to each other about texts and ideas.  They also say that writing responses to other people’s writing helps them to reflect on their own approach to an assignment by seeing how other students handled a similar task.  So written peer feedback offers an immediate audience that should be very useful at all stages of your inquiry.

Peer critique workshops can be incredibly helpful if people take them seriously, as an opportunity to give and receive feedback on writing-in-process.  We should start by reviewing the assignment itself.

To make this day run smoothly, please do these things:


First, share your work via Google Docs/Drive with at least two people sitting near you. Best to share in Google Docs now.  Uploading your paper now to GDocs will make sharing it with me easier, and also allow me to see how people are responding to your work:

  • Go to the Chico State website
  • Click on Email–>Wildcat Email
  • Click on Google Drive Login
  • Login with your Chico State email and PW
  • Upload your paper by clicking the blue NEW button–>File Upload
  • Double-click on the paper when it appears in your drive
  • Click on the blue Share button
  • Enter the email addresses of the two people who’ll respond to your paper.  Make sure they CAN EDIT, not just CAN COMMENT
  • Class GDocs experts, help the less-expert among you!


Now open your paper in Google Docs and freewrite some answers to these three questions.  10 minutes.  Leave your answers right at the top of your paper!

  1. What do you think is going well in your paper so far?  What do you like?
  2. What is not going so well, or where did the paper run off track?
  3. What kinds of questions do you have at this point about the paper or your argument?

Your answers to these questions will also help me as I read and respond to your papers.  I’ll read them first to orient ourselves to your writing process.

Then, as you begin talking with people in your workshop group, tell your readers what you’ve done so far, where you stopped writing, and what questions you have about your writing that they can help answer.  They should do the same for you.


Here are some suggestions about responding (commenting, questioning, suggesting revisions):

  • When you read drafts, focus your comments on the ideas and arguments in the drafts, then perhaps the organization, and generally not on grammar.  Note any typos or grammatical errors on the drafts if you want to, but please do not comment on grammar in the written response you write or spend much time on correcting it.
  • Make lots of comments on their drafts!  But say more than “good” or “fix this”–nothing is less helpful than a reader who doesn’t provide a rationale for their suggestions or questions.
  • Instead, ask the writer questions, provide ideas about sources, and comment on ideas, organization, and so on.  If using Google Docs, use the commenting function in  to leave your suggestions in bubbles outside the paper itself.

A few things I hope you’ll keep in mind as we read each other’s papers:

  • In Google Docs the easiest way to make a comment bubble appear is to highlight a section of text you want to comment on and then comment with a comment “bubble”:

Crtl+Alt+M on Windows computers

  • There’s also a handy “add comment” button in the righthand margin.
  • If papers are shared with other people, you may find yourself responding to your readers’ comments as well. That’s fine! Agree with the responder but push it further; or disagree and say why.


After finishing these steps, write up two peer critiques of at least 2 paragraphs in which you flesh out the concerns, questions, and suggestions you made in the draft.  Expand on your earlier comments!  That is, use your marginal comments as ideas for your longer peer critique.

In it make sure to do a few things:

  • Walk the author through how you read the draft.  Offer a “movie of your mind.”
  • Highlight what you think works well in the paper right now
  • Ask questions you think the author should consider
  • List at least 2-3 specific things the author should do in revision
  • Tell the author why you made these suggestions

So what’s due is a 2-paragraph peer critique of each of the two papers you read, using the questions above.

Save them in Google Docs or upload them to your WordPress site; either way, they will be helpful additions to your final portfolio.  Share with the writers of those papers by emailing them your comments or sharing electronically some other way.



Hey! I'm a professor of Rhetoric and Writing in the English dept. at Chico State. Also disc golf player, indie music listener, and vanilla Marxist.

Leave a Reply