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One of the toughest things about getting started with peer reviewing is handling your reluctance to offer feedback . After all, we’re all socialized to not say mean things to people, and purely negative commentary usually doesn’t find yourself helping the author anyway. The purpose of this document is to help you find ways to get around this problem by
1) remembering to offer positive commentary where a writer has done well, and by,
2) turning negative feedback into productive feedback
When reviewing, it's always important to notice a paper’s strengths, in order that the author won't lose these within the process of revision. Never assume an author will automatically know which parts of a paper work well... remember, they need been immersed in it too long to be objective. The referee form asks you to list the three major strengths of the paper in section VIIc - but remember to try to to this throughout the paper too, writing marginal comments like “good paragraph” once you read a neighborhood that flows well.
But the way to affect the parts that basically do have problems? The key's to form sure the comments you write are substantive comments.
These reactions are a primary step within the process of constructing helpful commentary, and writing down these initial reactions as comments isn't usually useful to the author .
How are you able to turn these unhelpful comments into helpful ones?
You need to travel a step beyond your initial reaction, and ask yourself why you're reacting negatively thereto sentence or paragraph.
Why, for instance, does a paragraph seem disorganized?
Are several topics mixed together in one paragraph?
Or may be a single topic treated, but presented out of logical sequence, in order that the reader is consistently grasping for information not yet given?
Or does the author seem to start out with one idea or position, on the other hand reverse him/herself later within the paragraph?
You can see that this process will take some work on your part, because you would like to reflect on your reactions and skim during a very involved way. Below are some samples of unhelpful “reaction-type” comments that are became helpful comments by this process of reflection.