Writing Pairs

Plan for the Day

  1. General questions about the course, schedule, and assignments
  2. First round of writing pairs (20 minutes), focus on criteria 1 and 3 in the first paragraph
  3. Second round of writing pairs (20 minutes), focus on criteria 3 and 5 in the supporting paragraphs
  4. Third round of writing pairs (20 minutes), focus on criteria 5 and 6 in the final paragraph
  5. The written review assignment will come through Canvas (or email).

The 20-Minute Writing Pairs

It may not be necessary to read the entire paper to talk about the focus at hand. Try not to spend too much time on small details. The submitted review will pay attention to details of grammar, but the 20-Minute Pairs should focus on larger issues.

Samples of Feedback by Criterion

Academic review does not typically use “Track Changes” or page numbers. Rather, observations and corrections are listed and referenced by a distinctive phrase. The following gives samples, often on the general side, of the feedback a reviewer might be expected to contribute. It might be helpful to add a sentence to explain more specifically, but reviewers are not expected to rewrite.

Criterion 1: Neat and on Time

The essay was not made available to me in a format I could read. The Pages format is not as standard as the Word or PDF format.

The essay was not available to me when it should have been.

The font was inconsistent. All text should be 12 point Times New Roman.

The paragraph formatting was inconsistent. Each new paragraph should be double spaced, indented on the first line, with no extra space between paragraphs.

Criterion 2: Formal English

Paragraph 2, “the sinner was expected to repent for his sin...”
The paragraph does not defend the claim that only males sin while all females are sinless. The author presumably intended “for his or her sin”

Paragraph 3, “the sinner was expected to repent for their sin...”
The paragraph does not defend the claim that only users of non-binary gender pronouns are sinners. The author presumably intended “The sinners were expected to repent for their sins...”

Paragraph 4, “According to Catholicism, God guides her people on the way to salvation...”
The assignment of a gendered pronoun to God distracts from an essay that otherwise makes no arguments about the application of gender constructions to God. The author presumably intended “According to Catholicism, God guides God’s people...”

Paragraph 2, “The righteous prosper and the wicked suffer.”
Comma needed between independent clauses.

Paragraph 3, “Like I said before, Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah.”
The paragraph would read more smoothly without this redundant sentence.

The final comma in a series of three or more (Oxford comma) was not used consistently. [If a problem is pervasive the reviewer is not obligated to identify every single instance.]

whether --> weather

Criterion 3: Genre

It took a second read before I could tell what the thesis is.

The thesis does not accurately capture what the paper is all about. It refers to x, but x is never developed in the supporting paragraphs.

The introduction should more accurately frame the scope of the paper by briefly acknowledging other views not addressed in the supporting paragraphs.

It took a second read before I could identify the signposting and tell what the three supporting paragraphs were going to be about.

The three supporting paragraphs were not parallel.

The first supporting paragraph lacks a clear topic sentence.

The second supporting paragraph lacks external evidence such as a block quotation.

The third supporting paragraph ends abruptly without telling the reader how the block quotation supports the topic sentence and the overall thesis of essay.

The concluding paragraph does not review the overall thesis how the three supporting paragraphs relate to the thesis.

The concluding paragraph does not take a clear position from the author’s personal perspective.

Criterion 4: Accuracy and Precision

“Fourth-century Christians believed that Christ is co-eternal with the Father...”
Not all of them. That was hotly debated at the time.

“Genesis 3 says that women are responsible for all sin, suffering, and death in the world.”
Common as that interpretation may be, the text itself makes no such claim and scholars agree that the ancient Israelite authors were not articulating the notion later identified as “original sin.” Perhaps the author’s point could still be made by stating more precisely, “According to 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Genesis 3 says...”

Criterion 5: Fairness

“Students at St. Mary’s worship rattle snakes rather than God.”
Despite the giant bronze serpent outside the gym and the role of Rattler-Man leading cheers, most students at St. Mary’s would not agree with this simplified assessment.

The first supporting paragraph fails to acknowledge how anyone would disagree with that position and reveals the bias that should not be obvious until the final position paragraph.

The second supporting paragraph does not even try to fairly represent that view, only to attack it.

Criterion 6: Engaging

This essay reads like it was started at the last minute without ever stopping to think why anyone would care.

The position paragraph asserts a “vote” without really explaining what about the author’s individual experience and background contributes to a distinctive perspective.