How did it feel to read and critique someone else’s writing?
I have peer reviewed many times in my life, both formally and informally. I have gained experience with this since my freshman year, with everything from writing courses to science classes. When I first started peer reviewing, I was uncomfortable giving others advice and breaking down aspects of their papers which, in my opinion, needed work. But as I progressed through my major, I was exposed to the experience again and again. One experience that sticks out to me is advice I got on a lab report in a general Chemistry course. The comment essentially told me to save a few aspects and otherwise start from scratch. At first I was defensive, but eventually decided the reviewer was right and took his advice. Due to this, I got an A on the report and in the class overall.
Over time, I gained an appreciation for others opinions on my work, whether or not I decided to apply them. This helped me realize that others likely feel the same way. Since this realization, I have been honest in my reviews without the fear as coming off as harsh. Especially since my experience with my lab review. A component of the peer review which can help reduce this fear is making the process anonymous, which this course did. That way there is no concern over judgement from the author or reviewer.
I am especially excited to receive reviews on my proposal as I was concerned with the structure of my study. I believe I did well, but having a peer’s opinion is invaluable. While I have felt that other reviews I have received have been valuable, I believe the reviews for this project will be immensely helpful.
What did you learn that you can apply to your own writing?
I learned a great deal from the peer review process. While I have not yet received reviews on my own project, I believe that simply reviewing others gave me a lot of useful information. For example, both papers I reviewed contained a similar amount of background information / explanation of the purpose as my own paper. This was excellent as I was concerned that I focused too heavily on that and not enough on the experimental design. Furthermore, I realized that I went more in depth on the method than either paper I reviewed, and have decided to reduce that section as a response. This will allow me to fit more into areas I felt I was lacking.
Overall, simply reading others ideas and seeing how they went about planning their study helped me feel more confident in my own proposal. In a way, we went about this project blind. Just seeing other examples created by my peers helped me know I was on track.