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What Is Peer Review? | Types & Examples

Published on December 17, 2021 by Tegan George . Revised on June 22, 2023.

Peer review, sometimes referred to as refereeing , is the process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Using strict criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decides whether to accept each submission for publication.

Peer-reviewed articles are considered a highly credible source due to the stringent process they go through before publication.

There are various types of peer review. The main difference between them is to what extent the authors, reviewers, and editors know each other’s identities. The most common types are:

  • Single-blind review
  • Double-blind review
  • Triple-blind review

Collaborative review

Open review.

Relatedly, peer assessment is a process where your peers provide you with feedback on something you’ve written, based on a set of criteria or benchmarks from an instructor. They then give constructive feedback, compliments, or guidance to help you improve your draft.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of peer review, types of peer review, the peer review process, providing feedback to your peers, peer review example, advantages of peer review, criticisms of peer review, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about peer reviews.

Many academic fields use peer review, largely to determine whether a manuscript is suitable for publication. Peer review enhances the credibility of the manuscript. For this reason, academic journals are among the most credible sources you can refer to.

However, peer review is also common in non-academic settings. The United Nations, the European Union, and many individual nations use peer review to evaluate grant applications. It is also widely used in medical and health-related fields as a teaching or quality-of-care measure.

Peer assessment is often used in the classroom as a pedagogical tool. Both receiving feedback and providing it are thought to enhance the learning process, helping students think critically and collaboratively.

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Depending on the journal, there are several types of peer review.

Single-blind peer review

The most common type of peer review is single-blind (or single anonymized) review . Here, the names of the reviewers are not known by the author.

While this gives the reviewers the ability to give feedback without the possibility of interference from the author, there has been substantial criticism of this method in the last few years. Many argue that single-blind reviewing can lead to poaching or intellectual theft or that anonymized comments cause reviewers to be too harsh.

Double-blind peer review

In double-blind (or double anonymized) review , both the author and the reviewers are anonymous.

Arguments for double-blind review highlight that this mitigates any risk of prejudice on the side of the reviewer, while protecting the nature of the process. In theory, it also leads to manuscripts being published on merit rather than on the reputation of the author.

Triple-blind peer review

While triple-blind (or triple anonymized) review —where the identities of the author, reviewers, and editors are all anonymized—does exist, it is difficult to carry out in practice.

Proponents of adopting triple-blind review for journal submissions argue that it minimizes potential conflicts of interest and biases. However, ensuring anonymity is logistically challenging, and current editing software is not always able to fully anonymize everyone involved in the process.

In collaborative review , authors and reviewers interact with each other directly throughout the process. However, the identity of the reviewer is not known to the author. This gives all parties the opportunity to resolve any inconsistencies or contradictions in real time, and provides them a rich forum for discussion. It can mitigate the need for multiple rounds of editing and minimize back-and-forth.

Collaborative review can be time- and resource-intensive for the journal, however. For these collaborations to occur, there has to be a set system in place, often a technological platform, with staff monitoring and fixing any bugs or glitches.

Lastly, in open review , all parties know each other’s identities throughout the process. Often, open review can also include feedback from a larger audience, such as an online forum, or reviewer feedback included as part of the final published product.

While many argue that greater transparency prevents plagiarism or unnecessary harshness, there is also concern about the quality of future scholarship if reviewers feel they have to censor their comments.

In general, the peer review process includes the following steps:

  • First, the author submits the manuscript to the editor.
  • Reject the manuscript and send it back to the author, or
  • Send it onward to the selected peer reviewer(s)
  • Next, the peer review process occurs. The reviewer provides feedback, addressing any major or minor issues with the manuscript, and gives their advice regarding what edits should be made.
  • Lastly, the edited manuscript is sent back to the author. They input the edits and resubmit it to the editor for publication.

The peer review process

In an effort to be transparent, many journals are now disclosing who reviewed each article in the published product. There are also increasing opportunities for collaboration and feedback, with some journals allowing open communication between reviewers and authors.

It can seem daunting at first to conduct a peer review or peer assessment. If you’re not sure where to start, there are several best practices you can use.

Summarize the argument in your own words

Summarizing the main argument helps the author see how their argument is interpreted by readers, and gives you a jumping-off point for providing feedback. If you’re having trouble doing this, it’s a sign that the argument needs to be clearer, more concise, or worded differently.

If the author sees that you’ve interpreted their argument differently than they intended, they have an opportunity to address any misunderstandings when they get the manuscript back.

Separate your feedback into major and minor issues

It can be challenging to keep feedback organized. One strategy is to start out with any major issues and then flow into the more minor points. It’s often helpful to keep your feedback in a numbered list, so the author has concrete points to refer back to.

Major issues typically consist of any problems with the style, flow, or key points of the manuscript. Minor issues include spelling errors, citation errors, or other smaller, easy-to-apply feedback.

Tip: Try not to focus too much on the minor issues. If the manuscript has a lot of typos, consider making a note that the author should address spelling and grammar issues, rather than going through and fixing each one.

The best feedback you can provide is anything that helps them strengthen their argument or resolve major stylistic issues.

Give the type of feedback that you would like to receive

No one likes being criticized, and it can be difficult to give honest feedback without sounding overly harsh or critical. One strategy you can use here is the “compliment sandwich,” where you “sandwich” your constructive criticism between two compliments.

Be sure you are giving concrete, actionable feedback that will help the author submit a successful final draft. While you shouldn’t tell them exactly what they should do, your feedback should help them resolve any issues they may have overlooked.

As a rule of thumb, your feedback should be:

  • Easy to understand
  • Constructive

Below is a brief annotated research example. You can view examples of peer feedback by hovering over the highlighted sections.

Influence of phone use on sleep

Studies show that teens from the US are getting less sleep than they were a decade ago (Johnson, 2019) . On average, teens only slept for 6 hours a night in 2021, compared to 8 hours a night in 2011. Johnson mentions several potential causes, such as increased anxiety, changed diets, and increased phone use.

The current study focuses on the effect phone use before bedtime has on the number of hours of sleep teens are getting.

For this study, a sample of 300 teens was recruited using social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The first week, all teens were allowed to use their phone the way they normally would, in order to obtain a baseline.

The sample was then divided into 3 groups:

  • Group 1 was not allowed to use their phone before bedtime.
  • Group 2 used their phone for 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Group 3 used their phone for 3 hours before bedtime.

All participants were asked to go to sleep around 10 p.m. to control for variation in bedtime . In the morning, their Fitbit showed the number of hours they’d slept. They kept track of these numbers themselves for 1 week.

Two independent t tests were used in order to compare Group 1 and Group 2, and Group 1 and Group 3. The first t test showed no significant difference ( p > .05) between the number of hours for Group 1 ( M = 7.8, SD = 0.6) and Group 2 ( M = 7.0, SD = 0.8). The second t test showed a significant difference ( p < .01) between the average difference for Group 1 ( M = 7.8, SD = 0.6) and Group 3 ( M = 6.1, SD = 1.5).

This shows that teens sleep fewer hours a night if they use their phone for over an hour before bedtime, compared to teens who use their phone for 0 to 1 hours.

Peer review is an established and hallowed process in academia, dating back hundreds of years. It provides various fields of study with metrics, expectations, and guidance to ensure published work is consistent with predetermined standards.

  • Protects the quality of published research

Peer review can stop obviously problematic, falsified, or otherwise untrustworthy research from being published. Any content that raises red flags for reviewers can be closely examined in the review stage, preventing plagiarized or duplicated research from being published.

  • Gives you access to feedback from experts in your field

Peer review represents an excellent opportunity to get feedback from renowned experts in your field and to improve your writing through their feedback and guidance. Experts with knowledge about your subject matter can give you feedback on both style and content, and they may also suggest avenues for further research that you hadn’t yet considered.

  • Helps you identify any weaknesses in your argument

Peer review acts as a first defense, helping you ensure your argument is clear and that there are no gaps, vague terms, or unanswered questions for readers who weren’t involved in the research process. This way, you’ll end up with a more robust, more cohesive article.

While peer review is a widely accepted metric for credibility, it’s not without its drawbacks.

  • Reviewer bias

The more transparent double-blind system is not yet very common, which can lead to bias in reviewing. A common criticism is that an excellent paper by a new researcher may be declined, while an objectively lower-quality submission by an established researcher would be accepted.

  • Delays in publication

The thoroughness of the peer review process can lead to significant delays in publishing time. Research that was current at the time of submission may not be as current by the time it’s published. There is also high risk of publication bias , where journals are more likely to publish studies with positive findings than studies with negative findings.

  • Risk of human error

By its very nature, peer review carries a risk of human error. In particular, falsification often cannot be detected, given that reviewers would have to replicate entire experiments to ensure the validity of results.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Chi square tests
  • Confidence interval
  • Quartiles & Quantiles
  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Thematic analysis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Cohort study
  • Ethnography

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Conformity bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Availability heuristic
  • Attrition bias
  • Social desirability bias

Peer review is a process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Utilizing rigorous criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decide whether to accept each submission for publication. For this reason, academic journals are often considered among the most credible sources you can use in a research project– provided that the journal itself is trustworthy and well-regarded.

In general, the peer review process follows the following steps: 

  • Reject the manuscript and send it back to author, or 
  • Send it onward to the selected peer reviewer(s) 
  • Next, the peer review process occurs. The reviewer provides feedback, addressing any major or minor issues with the manuscript, and gives their advice regarding what edits should be made. 
  • Lastly, the edited manuscript is sent back to the author. They input the edits, and resubmit it to the editor for publication.

Peer review can stop obviously problematic, falsified, or otherwise untrustworthy research from being published. It also represents an excellent opportunity to get feedback from renowned experts in your field. It acts as a first defense, helping you ensure your argument is clear and that there are no gaps, vague terms, or unanswered questions for readers who weren’t involved in the research process.

Peer-reviewed articles are considered a highly credible source due to this stringent process they go through before publication.

Many academic fields use peer review , largely to determine whether a manuscript is suitable for publication. Peer review enhances the credibility of the published manuscript.

However, peer review is also common in non-academic settings. The United Nations, the European Union, and many individual nations use peer review to evaluate grant applications. It is also widely used in medical and health-related fields as a teaching or quality-of-care measure. 

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

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How to Write a Peer Review

what is peer review assignment

When you write a peer review for a manuscript, what should you include in your comments? What should you leave out? And how should the review be formatted?

This guide provides quick tips for writing and organizing your reviewer report.

Review Outline

Use an outline for your reviewer report so it’s easy for the editors and author to follow. This will also help you keep your comments organized.

Think about structuring your review like an inverted pyramid. Put the most important information at the top, followed by details and examples in the center, and any additional points at the very bottom.

what is peer review assignment

Here’s how your outline might look:

1. Summary of the research and your overall impression

In your own words, summarize what the manuscript claims to report. This shows the editor how you interpreted the manuscript and will highlight any major differences in perspective between you and the other reviewers. Give an overview of the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses. Think about this as your “take-home” message for the editors. End this section with your recommended course of action.

2. Discussion of specific areas for improvement

It’s helpful to divide this section into two parts: one for major issues and one for minor issues. Within each section, you can talk about the biggest issues first or go systematically figure-by-figure or claim-by-claim. Number each item so that your points are easy to follow (this will also make it easier for the authors to respond to each point). Refer to specific lines, pages, sections, or figure and table numbers so the authors (and editors) know exactly what you’re talking about.

Major vs. minor issues

What’s the difference between a major and minor issue? Major issues should consist of the essential points the authors need to address before the manuscript can proceed. Make sure you focus on what is  fundamental for the current study . In other words, it’s not helpful to recommend additional work that would be considered the “next step” in the study. Minor issues are still important but typically will not affect the overall conclusions of the manuscript. Here are some examples of what would might go in the “minor” category:

  • Missing references (but depending on what is missing, this could also be a major issue)
  • Technical clarifications (e.g., the authors should clarify how a reagent works)
  • Data presentation (e.g., the authors should present p-values differently)
  • Typos, spelling, grammar, and phrasing issues

3. Any other points

Confidential comments for the editors.

Some journals have a space for reviewers to enter confidential comments about the manuscript. Use this space to mention concerns about the submission that you’d want the editors to consider before sharing your feedback with the authors, such as concerns about ethical guidelines or language quality. Any serious issues should be raised directly and immediately with the journal as well.

This section is also where you will disclose any potentially competing interests, and mention whether you’re willing to look at a revised version of the manuscript.

Do not use this space to critique the manuscript, since comments entered here will not be passed along to the authors.  If you’re not sure what should go in the confidential comments, read the reviewer instructions or check with the journal first before submitting your review. If you are reviewing for a journal that does not offer a space for confidential comments, consider writing to the editorial office directly with your concerns.

Get this outline in a template

Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is hard. Giving effective feedback can be even more challenging. Remember that your ultimate goal is to discuss what the authors would need to do in order to qualify for publication. The point is not to nitpick every piece of the manuscript. Your focus should be on providing constructive and critical feedback that the authors can use to improve their study.

If you’ve ever had your own work reviewed, you already know that it’s not always easy to receive feedback. Follow the golden rule: Write the type of review you’d want to receive if you were the author. Even if you decide not to identify yourself in the review, you should write comments that you would be comfortable signing your name to.

In your comments, use phrases like “ the authors’ discussion of X” instead of “ your discussion of X .” This will depersonalize the feedback and keep the focus on the manuscript instead of the authors.

General guidelines for effective feedback

what is peer review assignment

  • Justify your recommendation with concrete evidence and specific examples.
  • Be specific so the authors know what they need to do to improve.
  • Be thorough. This might be the only time you read the manuscript.
  • Be professional and respectful. The authors will be reading these comments too.
  • Remember to say what you liked about the manuscript!

what is peer review assignment

Don’t

  • Recommend additional experiments or  unnecessary elements that are out of scope for the study or for the journal criteria.
  • Tell the authors exactly how to revise their manuscript—you don’t need to do their work for them.
  • Use the review to promote your own research or hypotheses.
  • Focus on typos and grammar. If the manuscript needs significant editing for language and writing quality, just mention this in your comments.
  • Submit your review without proofreading it and checking everything one more time.

Before and After: Sample Reviewer Comments

Keeping in mind the guidelines above, how do you put your thoughts into words? Here are some sample “before” and “after” reviewer comments

✗ Before

“The authors appear to have no idea what they are talking about. I don’t think they have read any of the literature on this topic.”

✓ After

“The study fails to address how the findings relate to previous research in this area. The authors should rewrite their Introduction and Discussion to reference the related literature, especially recently published work such as Darwin et al.”

“The writing is so bad, it is practically unreadable. I could barely bring myself to finish it.”

“While the study appears to be sound, the language is unclear, making it difficult to follow. I advise the authors work with a writing coach or copyeditor to improve the flow and readability of the text.”

“It’s obvious that this type of experiment should have been included. I have no idea why the authors didn’t use it. This is a big mistake.”

“The authors are off to a good start, however, this study requires additional experiments, particularly [type of experiment]. Alternatively, the authors should include more information that clarifies and justifies their choice of methods.”

Suggested Language for Tricky Situations

You might find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure how to explain the problem or provide feedback in a constructive and respectful way. Here is some suggested language for common issues you might experience.

What you think : The manuscript is fatally flawed. What you could say: “The study does not appear to be sound” or “the authors have missed something crucial”.

What you think : You don’t completely understand the manuscript. What you could say : “The authors should clarify the following sections to avoid confusion…”

What you think : The technical details don’t make sense. What you could say : “The technical details should be expanded and clarified to ensure that readers understand exactly what the researchers studied.”

What you think: The writing is terrible. What you could say : “The authors should revise the language to improve readability.”

What you think : The authors have over-interpreted the findings. What you could say : “The authors aim to demonstrate [XYZ], however, the data does not fully support this conclusion. Specifically…”

What does a good review look like?

Check out the peer review examples at F1000 Research to see how other reviewers write up their reports and give constructive feedback to authors.

Time to Submit the Review!

Be sure you turn in your report on time. Need an extension? Tell the journal so that they know what to expect. If you need a lot of extra time, the journal might need to contact other reviewers or notify the author about the delay.

Tip: Building a relationship with an editor

You’ll be more likely to be asked to review again if you provide high-quality feedback and if you turn in the review on time. Especially if it’s your first review for a journal, it’s important to show that you are reliable. Prove yourself once and you’ll get asked to review again!

  • Getting started as a reviewer
  • Responding to an invitation
  • Reading a manuscript
  • Writing a peer review

The contents of the Peer Review Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

The contents of the Writing Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher…

When Students Critique Each Other’s Work, Learning Happens

Explore more.

  • Classroom Management
  • Student Engagement

G iving students formative feedback on their writing has a positive impact on their learning and performance. But reviewing students’ work at multiple points throughout the writing process can quickly become time-prohibitive for educators. What I’ve learned from experience is that I don’t have to do it all myself—my students are also capable of providing valuable feedback to each other.

Peer review is something I have used in my classes off and on for many years. I find it to be a powerful and engaging learning activity to help students think deeply about what makes writing effective. By reviewing others’ work and preparing constructive written or verbal feedback for their peers, students also start thinking more about their own work and how to improve it. Throughout the process, they connect with each other and form relationships through collaborative writing and review cycles. And with practice, they often gain confidence in their own abilities as both writers and reviewers.

Over time, I have found that letting go of some of the feedback process and incorporating peer review into my courses spares me review cycles while also giving students more opportunities to get feedback. For it all to go well, you need to ensure students really understand what peer review is, what purpose it serves, and what they’ll need to do in the process—for many, it’s not intuitive. Giving feedback that is meaningful, supportive, and constructive may not be something they’ve done before, so students may need additional resources and support to get started.

Here is how I incorporate peer review into my courses, along with some practical suggestions to help students find meaning in the process.

WHAT IS PEER REVIEW AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Peer review is a process in which students give each other feedback on their work. While peer review can be used in a variety of ways, in this article I’m referring to using student peer review for academic writing—including short essays, opinion pieces, and minute papers, as well as more comprehensive project reports, position papers, and research reports.

Peer review is the giving of an opinion. This is critical for students to understand—it can help create buy-in and smooth the process as students get ready to give and receive peer feedback.

Students can provide this feedback one on one or in groups. It can be either formally structured, with written feedback, or informally structured, with conversation and discussion.

The peer review approach can be effective in online and in-person classrooms. Yet, in both environments, I’ve found the results are best when I break writing assignments down into several sections and have students complete them over time, rather than setting one big deadline.

Most recently, I have been using peer review as group work in my research application class for senior-level students. I create groups of three, when possible, for both writing teams and reviewing teams. The assignment is scaffolded, meaning students complete individual components of the research paper at different times throughout the term. This way, students have multiple opportunities for peer review and engagement with others.

Each writing team is paired with a reviewing team for the entire term, so the reviewers can become familiar with the topics and see changes that are made based on their suggestions. As the writing evolves, the reviewers receive a grade on their feedback. The writing team receives their grade once the final paper is submitted.

Explain the Process to Your Class and Address Any Fears

Once you’ve selected the writing assignment you’d like to use to incorporate peer review, the first step is to gauge your students’ comfort level with critiquing their classmates’ work. Before introducing the peer-review process, I send out an anonymous, one-item questionnaire through the learning management system (LMS) asking, “What specific thoughts, beliefs, or concerns do you have about conducting a review of your peers’ writing?”

Their responses give me a sense of how comfortable or experienced they are with editing each other’s work. The answers also help me individualize instruction and address specific concerns. I find that my students often have the same worries: They’re afraid of offending their peers, and they don’t think they’re knowledgeable enough to provide helpful feedback.

For example, one of my students responded, “I do not feel like I know what I should be looking for, so critiquing my peers makes me nervous. I do not want to misguide them. The only feedback I feel confident in is grammar, wording, and spelling. Essentially, given that I have no clue what I am doing, it is intimidating to review a peer’s work.

Another said, “I want to be a good reviewer, but sometimes I don’t know if I know enough.”

To ease these doubts, take time in class to define what peer review is (and what it is not) and talk about how giving and receiving feedback helps students learn from each other in a meaningful way. Reinforcing that it is not the reviewer’s job to fix or grade someone else’s work may help alleviate some of the fear and self-doubt students may feel.

Providing clear guidelines, explicit examples, and a well-structured framework for feedback can also help lessen students’ anxiety about their role in the peer-review process. Most college students have already read something they thought was really good or something they felt was confusing or misleading. I let them know that peer review starts there. My job is to help them put language to their opinions so they’re more confident describing to others what worked well and what could be stronger.

To do this, I provide examples of prior peer feedback. I also use publicly available sites with suggestions for creating feedback that reinforces a spirit of collegial collaboration. Students can revisit these resources as often as needed as they begin to craft peer feedback.

Set Up an Online Annotation Platform for Ease of Access

I use an online annotation platform to streamline the peer review process. This allows for collaborative learning that can be synchronous or asynchronous . There are many good platforms available, and most LMSs have a compatible annotation option that can be configured to allow secure access.

Digital annotation through the LMS allows faculty to track individual reviewer contributions and allows students 24/7 access to complete their reviews and generate feedback at a time that’s convenient for them.

Offer Review Guidelines and Rubrics

I create a rubric for each assignment with key components and expectations the writers should follow. These guidelines change depending on the assignment, and I encourage peer reviewers to adhere to the rubric when evaluating their classmates’ work, as it will help identify what they should be looking for. It gives them a point of focus beyond the default of grammar and punctuation and compels students to dive more deeply into the guidelines the writers used when crafting their work. Reviewers can easily see what should be included in the assignment and where the emphasis should be (the weighting from the rubric).

“Take time in class to define what peer review is (and what it is not) and talk about how giving and receiving feedback helps students learn from each other in a meaningful way.”

The reviewers can use the statements from the rubric to focus on the level of evidentiary support provided (e.g., Is it enough to support this as a problem? Is it current? Is there something missing?) and look for connections between the question posed and the research problem (e.g., Can I see how this problem will be addressed? Do I understand who the population of interest is? Do the comparisons make sense?).

Instead of providing checkboxes on the rubric, I encourage students to communicate in writing what they see and what they don’t see in their peers’ work based on the guidelines and their knowledge of the assignment’s requirements. For example, students’ feedback might answer questions such as, Am I seeing what is expected based on the criteria? Is the content understandable? Does the progression of ideas make sense?

Provide Ample Time for Communication and Feedback

I encourage reviewers to gather additional information from writers before they begin their work. Knowing if writers would like reviewers to focus on something specific can provide additional direction. For example, writers may ask, “Is the thesis statement clearly presented? Have we provided sufficient context in the background information? Are the transitions clear?” While the reviewers will see things they want to offer feedback on, taking the writers’ needs into consideration is important for creating a collegial review process.

As such, reviewers need ample time to formulate meaningful feedback at each step. Generally, I provide three days for students to review each draft. Reviewers are encouraged to read the work aloud, then formulate their opinions. If this peer review is being used as group work, reviewers can then get together to discuss their impressions and record their collective feedback. This collaborative manner of review avoids groupthink, enhances students’ understanding, and allays concerns students might have about misdirecting their peers.

“By encouraging student reviewers to focus on the guidelines, take the writers’ needs into consideration, and form feedback based on their experience as a reader, the process remains well-grounded and helps to create constructive dialogue among students.”

I also always assess reviewers’ feedback. This allows me to monitor comments, address any potential misdirection, and get a sense of how the writing is progressing without spending a lot of time on formative feedback. On occasion, I provide a corrective comment or suggestion to the writers or the reviewers outside of the annotation platform—but this is rare. By encouraging student reviewers to focus on the guidelines, take the writers’ needs into consideration, and form feedback based on their experience as a reader, the process remains well-grounded and helps to create constructive dialogue among students.

After I look over the reviewers’ feedback, I take five minutes of class the next day to talk about the strengths I saw. Without using specific phrases or comments from the feedback, I point out what I noticed that’s good, such as suggestions for improving the writers’ organization or useful feedback that helped identify missing elements in the paper.

This exercise helps me create buy-in from student reviewers, who now feel supported in the process, as well as from writers, who are more likely to make the suggested changes if they sense they can trust the feedback.

Establish a Grading System for Feedback

To encourage meaningful participation throughout the process, I grade peer feedback. Consistent with evidence-based recommendations , I use a grading guide that is focused on providing high-quality feedback on each paper’s structure, content, organization, and clarity of writing. This guide is straightforward and can be adapted as needed depending on the structure of the assignment.

Some of the core areas the grading guide covers include the following:

Observations clearly identify what worked well and what could be strengthened from the perspective of a reader. Reviewer also provides collegial encouragement with specific suggestions for improvement.

Feedback is given in a positive, constructive manner.

Comments are well thought out and reviewer’s recommendations are clearly and concisely articulated.

Language, grammar, and tense is consistent with college-level writing.

In my experience, grading the reviewers ensures that feedback is well-written and substantive (simply stating, “This is good,” “This still needs work,” or, “I love this!” is not sufficient). And if the feedback addresses something lacking in the writing, grading helps enforce that students are collegial, constructive, and specific when they make constructive suggestions.

I do wait until the final submission of the assignment before I grade the writers; this allows time for peer feedback to be considered, incorporated, or discarded as appropriate.

Poll Your Students to Learn What Worked for Them—or Didn’t

After final papers are submitted, I typically send my students another brief, anonymous questionnaire to see what they thought about the activity and what I can improve for the next time. Most of my students have consistently indicated that both giving and receiving feedback from their peers was beneficial—for the group writing process, as well as for their own writing ability.

One student commented, “It helped me gain an understanding of different writing styles, elements that could be added to better our group’s writing, and how to provide constructive feedback in a collegial manner.”

Developing Skills That Transcend a Single Assignment

While there is occasionally doubt—for me and for students—that peer review activities will result in meaningful learning, I am always pleasantly surprised by how involved my students become with the process over the course of the term and how much insight they possess about good writing once they have a clear framework.

In my experience, reviewers commonly identify opportunities for clarity in their peers’ writing, which in turn helps improve their own understanding of the material as well. They comment on areas for expansion, organization of content, transition of thought, and suggestions for including forgotten or interesting elements that would strengthen the overall work.

By reviewing their peers’ work, students gain skills and confidence that transcend a single assignment. They tend to think more critically about what they are reading and hone their communication skills in a way that prepares them to work with others to accomplish a common task. They also realize how much they know and how much they have to offer each other.

As an educator, giving up control and allowing students to give each other feedback can be a scary proposition. But over time, I have found that even though I spend less time giving students feedback, I am more informed about the work they ultimately submit for grading. And the quality of my students’ writing—across the board—is noticeably improved.

Tammy Haley

Dr. Tammy Haley is an associate professor of nursing and director of graduate nursing education in the Beaver College of Health Sciences at Appalachian State University.

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Implementing Peer Review in Your Course

During her graduate studies at The Ohio State University, Nicole Pizarro worked as both an English instructor and a consultant at the Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing’s Writing Center .   

Nicole Pizarro headshot

“In my teaching, I didn’t have time to help each student craft and edit their papers. But as a peer consultant, I could focus on a client’s writing and walk them through the revision process while providing comprehensive feedback. This work highlighted for me the benefits of peer-to-peer feedback in everyday writing instruction.”

It wasn’t long before Pizarro’s Writing Center experience influenced her teaching. In a second-year writing course, she used a CarmenCanvas discussion board to encourage students to actively reflect on each other’s writing styles and the bottlenecks they encountered when composing.  

“We talked about what we valued in peer-to-peer feedback. For each assignment, students would use Carmen’s peer review tool and a set of guiding questions to provide feedback to each other. Weaving those interactions throughout the course fostered a classroom community where students could identify areas of improvement in their peers’ work as well as actively reflect on their own writing.” 

Why peer review? 

Feedback is essential to any writing task, especially in the workplace. Whether your students move on to academic careers or other professions, they must be comfortable with the practice of seeking feedback from colleagues. For example, active feedback is integral to the production of scholarly and business communications such as grant proposals, presentations, memos, technical guides, and reports. What’s more, many of the bottlenecks college students face with writing tasks can be addressed through peer review, which helps them further develop the writing skills they need to enter the workforce.  

Unfortunately, peer review activities are not always successful, and many instructors avoid them altogether. Some common reasons for this: 

  • Instructors may believe it is unproductive to have students who encounter the same bottlenecks in their writing provide feedback to one another. 
  • Instructors may be hesitant or unable to commit the time and energy needed for effective peer review activities, which necessitate advance planning and active participation from students throughout the length of a writing assignment or even a whole course. 
  • Students may have difficulty differentiating between feedback and criticism, leading peer review activities to feel intimidating or unpleasant. Furthermore, students who are not confident in their own composition skills may be hesitant to “judge” their peers’ writing. 
  • Students may not see the point of peer review because they have been conditioned to value feedback only from their instructors.  

Do any of these concerns hit home for you or your students? The good news is that while designing peer review activities may seem daunting, research suggests that effective peer review can enhance students’ writing education. 

What the research says 

Five students talking looking at a laptop.

Encouraging students to actively reflect on their own and their peers’ writing can have lasting effects on their development as writers. In Peer Review: Successful from the Start , Shelley Reid notes that peer review “broadens the audience to whom student writers are responsible,” reinforces “the idea that writing is the result of the writer’s choices—which can be controlled and modified,” and increases students’ “awareness of writing as a negotiation between the intent of the writer and the needs of the audience” (2008, para. 5-6). Similarly, WAC Clearinghouse contends that “peer review enhances students’ critical thinking skills as readers and writers... [and] fosters the collaborative awareness of peer readers and their needs” (n.d.).  

Because of the varied ways peer review is implemented in higher ed, the research suggests that its effectiveness varies. Lundstrom and Baker (2009) identified three key benefits of peer review: students receive extra feedback, they have more language interactions, and they improve their own writing by providing feedback to others. However, they also found that the training students got on giving and receiving feedback influenced whether their writing improved overall or globally. “Students who revised student papers improved in specific areas of writing more so than those who only learned to use student feedback” (Lundstrom & Baker, 2009, p. 38). Other researchers have echoed the importance of providing “explicit training in both giving and receiving formative feedback” (Dressler, Chu, Crossman, & Hillman, 2019).  

Ultimately, for a peer review activity to be successful, students must receive training or clear instructions regarding the expectations for the activity . Providing a rubric, working with students to establish criteria, and having open conversations about how to structure helpful feedback can all enhance the peer review process. Asao Inoue (2005) suggests that instructors implement community-based assessment pedagogies in which “students take control of the writing and assessment practices of the class” by contributing to the development of assignments and rubrics. Such methods support students to “evolve as writers, assessors, and theorizers of language” while structured opportunities to evaluate their own writing processes can turn them into “reflective, more self-conscious writers” (p. 210). 

Research also demonstrates that students for whom English is a second language, sometimes called L2 students, can benefit from peer review activities. “Especially popular in L2 instruction, peer response has been shown to help students understand their own process of writing development by analyzing the writing of peers at similar stages in the process” (Anson & Anson, 2017, p. 14 ). Lundstrom and Baker (2009) found that peer review activities help English language learners improve their own writing by “transferring abilities they learn when reviewing peer texts” (p. 38 ). In other words, peer review activities allow English language learners to critically evaluate their own writing through evaluating their peers’ work. 

Supporting International Students

Are you considering how best to support the success of international students on writing assignments, peer reviews, and other learning activities? Find guidance in the Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing’s Supporting International Student Learning in the Classroom . 

Ultimately, peer review can help students improve their writing. But to maximize its benefits, students must be trained on how to provide effective feedback and what to do with the feedback they receive. Even if a final product doesn’t show significant improvement, peer review can influence students’ overall development as writers, spurring them to be more self-aware, reflective, and thoughtful about their writing choices and processes.

In Practice

The following approaches can help you plan productive peer review activities for your course.  

Provide students opportunities to reflect on their writing process. Encouraging students to reflect on their own writing processes helps you understand specific areas to address in their writing skills development so you can tailor your instruction. It also helps students set individual goals that their peers can use to provide meaningful, targeted feedback. When students consciously consider their strengths and areas for improvement, they are set up to be accountable in how they respond to the feedback they receive in those areas.

Ask students to write a paragraph explaining what their writing process looks like for a traditional paper. Ask guiding questions, such as:  

  • Do you enjoy writing? Why or why not? 
  • How do you brainstorm ideas?  
  • How do you organize your ideas before writing?  
  • What is a piece of writing you are most proud of? Why? 
  • What do you struggle with when working on a writing assignment? 

Develop a questionnaire asking students to reflect on or rate their writing skills. Using the anonymous submission option when  building your survey in Carmen can help students feel comfortable being honest about the bottlenecks they experience when writing.  

Spend class time explaining the benefits of peer review and addressing students’ questions and concerns. We mentioned earlier some negative connotations that are often associated with peer review activities. Because many students share similar concerns, it is helpful to dedicate class time to openly discussing their prior experiences with peer review. Ask them to share what they find most valuable about peer feedback and what they want to gain from peer review activities. This is a good opportunity to explain the difference between feedback and criticism, as well as the benefits that understanding and practicing peer review can have on students’ writing.  

Create a contract as a class to lay out key guidelines for peer review . Once you’ve discussed students’ experiences and concerns, you can dive into specific expectations and parameters for peer review. Together with students, create a peer review contract wherein key areas for development and feedback are highlighted. This contract can serve as a reminder of the difference between criticism and feedback, and how to provide useful feedback. Developing a community contract allows students to have control in the peer review process and tailor activities to their shared needs. Along these lines, you can also work with students to establish the specific criteria for the individual peer review activities you assign throughout the term. 

Woman with laptop reviewing papers.

Scaffold major assignments and implement feedback loops throughout their duration.   In a First Year Writing course in Ohio State’s English department, students are expected to develop an academic paper analyzing a popular media text. This research paper is broken down into smaller writing tasks focused on specific skills: primary source analysis, annotated bibliography, secondary source integration, and analytical research. For each of those individual tasks, students perform peer reviews and follow up on feedback to make improvements to their drafts. The frequent feedback loops throughout the course help students actively reflect upon and develop their writing skills and become more comfortable providing and responding to feedback in the process.  

Provide a detailed worksheet, checklist, or rubric for each peer review assignment. Students are often unsure how to evaluate peers’ writing and compose their review, so explicit guidance for them to reference during the process is crucial. Delineate clear areas for feedback or provide guiding questions, such as: 

  • In a few sentences, summarize your peer’s paper. 
  • What is the paper’s main argument? Is the argument clear and specific? 
  • Does the introduction establish the argument and provide an overview of the paper’s topic? 
  • Are the main points well organized? Are there any paragraphs that could be expanded, clarified, or re-ordered? 
  • Does the conclusion wrap up the paper by synthesizing ideas or suggesting new directions of thought? 
  • What were the writer’s most interesting or illuminating points? 
  • What questions do you still have after reading the paper? Did you find anything confusing?  
  • Does the author cite reliable sources? Do the sources support the paper’s argument?  

It is also helpful to encourage students to pose specific questions about their papers that they would like their peer reviewers to consider. 

For additional ideas for structuring peer review assignments, see the University of Alaska, Fairbanks’ extensive list of Peer Review Activities .

Teaching Online

Peer review has value no matter your mode of instruction. If you’re wondering how to best adapt peer review activities for the online classroom, explore the Purdue Online Writing Lab’s Remote Peer Review Strategies . Find more support for promoting peer connections at a distance in Student Interaction Online  and Creating and Adapting Assessments for Online Courses .

Guide students to reflect on each peer review activity and the feedback they received . After a peer review activity concludes, have students reflect on their peers’ feedback, revisit their work, and identify the revisions they plan to apply. This can be as simple as asking them to compose a paragraph or bulleted list outlining the changes that they want to make to their drafts. Prompting students to reflect on peer feedback throughout the duration of a project motivates them to see the revision process as ongoing.  

Leverage university-supported technology to support your peer review activities.  Carmen has a built-in peer review tool that can streamline the peer review process for you and your students. It facilitates students’ reviews and enables you to grade them, all in a centralized location. Learn more about using the Carmen peer review tool . 

Integrating peer review activities in your course can support your students’ holistic development as writers. For peer review to be effective, you must train your students in how to provide feedback as well as how to respond to the feedback they receive. Setting up clear expectations and resources will go a long way toward making peer review a productive endeavor for all involved. 

When designing peer review activities for your course: 

Encourage students to actively reflect on their writing processes. This helps students better establish the kind of feedback they want from peers and consider how they will incorporate it into their revisions.  

Provide opportunities for students to share their concerns and questions about peer review before conducting any activities. 

Give students agency in peer review activities by creating a community-generated peer review contract and working together to establish criteria for peer review assignments.  

Scaffold all major assignments and build multiple opportunities for peer feedback into the writing process. 

Provide students with a detailed worksheet, checklist, or rubric to guide their evaluation of their peers’ writing.  

Allow students to reflect on the feedback they received after a peer review and consider how they will incorporate it into their revisions. 

Take advantage of university-supported tools like Carmen to streamline peer review activities. 

  • Peer Review in CarmenCanvas Can Aid in Students’ Learning Process (ODEE/CSTW ar…
  • Shelley's (Quick) Guides for Writing Teachers: Full-Circle Peer Review (web res…
  • Teaching Students to Evaluate Each Other (web resources)

Anson, I.F., & Anson, C.M. (2017). Assessing peer and instructor response to writing: A corpus analysis from an expert survey. Assessing Writing , 33 , 12-24.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2017.03.001

Cho, K., Schunn, C.D., & Charney, D. (2006). Commenting on Writing: Typology and perceived helpfulness of comments from novice peer reviewers and subject matter experts. Written Communications , 23 (3), 260-294.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088306289261

Inoue, A.B. (2005). Community-based assessment pedagogy. Assessing Writing , 9 , 208-238.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2004.12.001 

Lundstrom, K. & Baker, W. (2009). To give is better than to receive: The benefits of peer review to the reviewer’s own writing. Journal of Second Language Writing , 18 , 30-43.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2008.06.002

Reid, E. S. (2006). Peer Review: Successful from the Start. The Teaching Professo r, 20 (8), 3.

WAC Clearinghouse. (n.d.). How can I get the most out of peer review? . https://wac.colostate.edu/resources/wac/intro/peer/    

Related Teaching Topics

Designing assessments of student learning, helping students write across the disciplines, supporting student learning and metacognition, related toolsets, carmencanvas, search for resources.

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Peer Review: Intentional Design for Any Course Context

On this page:, the what and why of peer review, considerations for successful peer review design and implementation.

  • Instructional Technologies to Support Peer Review
  • Columbia University Resources
  • References and Additional Resources

Peer review, as the name suggests, is the act of receiving feedback from a colleague or classmate. It typically happens throughout the course of a written assignment, perhaps at the halfway point, and often involves classmates commenting and providing feedback on each other’s work in any number of formats. There might be specific questions or prompts provided by the instructor, or the activity may be based on the writer’s specific concerns. 

The process of peer review can help students make purposeful and intentional choices in their own work by offering their perspective and insight to their peers. It also gives students an opportunity to see how others have responded to a similar prompt, text, or assignment, which can help their own understanding of the topic or assignment grow. In their research on the benefits of peer review, Ambrose et al. (2010) demonstrate how the peer review process has mutual benefits for “readers, writers, and instructors alike” (pp. 257). For readers, peer review can help them re-see their own work. For writers, the feedback gained in peer review can help focus the revision process. Finally, instructors also benefit because they receive work that has already undergone at least one round of feedback and revision. Research has shown that students who receive focused feedback from at least four peers have better revision than those who received instructor feedback only (Ambrose et. al, 2010, pp. 257). Thus, it is important to have clear processes and expectations for peer review, as well as multiple opportunities available throughout a course.

When planning peer review activities, it is important for instructors to consider the overall assignment learning objectives, scaffolded in-class activities, peer review expectations, and the goals of peer review for students. With the various components of the assignment in mind, designing peer review activities will be more intentional and can further support students’ success on a given assignment. 

1. Align the peer review activity with the learning objectives for the writing assignment.

What are the goals for the peer review activity, and what parts of the assignment do they align with? What questions or concepts will students address in the activity? 

Aligning peer review activities with the learning objectives of the assignment can help students strengthen their connections and understanding of assignment expectations. This alignment can also help target feedback so that students are focusing on the parts of the assignment they need to be successful. Early opportunities and activities that ask students to provide targeted feedback (e.g.: concrete suggestions and examples) allows them to practice the skills identified in the assignment learning objectives and may help them identify similar writing needs in their own work. Lastly, providing students with a guided peer review activity can help offset surface-level comments (e.g.: “This looks good!”) or an over-focus on line-by-line copyediting. 

2. Design the peer review activity by considering all elements of the writing assignment.

When will students receive peer feedback versus instructor feedback? What in-class activities will students have completed prior to peer review? 

Think about the moments of intervention throughout the assignment and how each  of these moments might build upon the next. This can help you scaffold students’ feedback throughout the assignment, as well further align class activities and learning objectives. It’s also important to consider what students will need to prepare for the peer review activity: what will you ask them to share during the activity? How much of their draft should they bring for peer review? Lastly, be clear with students about your expectations for timing: What amount of synchronous or in-class time will students have for the activity? What will the out-of-class expectations be? When deciding how much time you allot, be mindful of students’ different learning preferences and language experiences. 

3. Model your expectations for successful peer review.

What does successful peer review look like in your class? How will students know what the expectations are? 

As John Bean (2011) notes, “Unless the teacher structures the sessions and trains students in what to do, peer reviewers may offer eccentric, superficial, or otherwise unhelpful–or even bad–advice” (pp. 295). One way you might train students is to engage them in whole-class peer review using a sample paper. There is no way to know what students’ previous peer review experiences have been, so offering a whole class model can help establish expectations early on. You can also partner with your students to create clear peer review guidelines , helping students learn how to evaluate each other’s work. Additionally, you might choose to share your own experiences with peer review with your students. Reflect upon what kinds of feedback you found most and least helpful, and share that with students, and even invite them to join that reflection and discussion. This can serve as a springboard for a conversation about your class peer review expectations. 

4. Identify a clear assessment plan for peer review activities, and share that with students.

Will you assess students’ participation and contributions? If so, what will that look like? If you assess peer review, how will you help students develop those skills? (See item 3 above.)

If you decide to assess students’ peer review participation, be sure to have clear conversations about these expectations with students. You might refer to established peer review guidelines (discussed above). If you have a rubric for the assignment, you might also consider if peer review is a part of that rubric. Or, you might encourage students to use the assignment rubric as a peer review activity and assess students’ engagement with the rubric. Lastly, peer review activities present a great opportunity for a low-stakes assessment in the classroom, which are known to reduce student anxiety and increase students’ confidence in their work ( Lang, 2013 ).

5. Determine the platform or tool that will help facilitate peer review.

What platform(s) or tool(s) will best help facilitate the peer review activity? What level of instruction or preparation will students need prior to engaging in the activity?

While sharing hard-copies of drafts is a common practice for in-person class meetings,  there are a number of different ways students can engage in online peer review. After determining the appropriate activity based on the learning objectives and students’ needs, choosing the right tool or platform can ensure that students are able to achieve the goals of the activity. Read on to learn about platform or tool considerations.

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Instructional Technologies to Support Peer Review 

Zoom Breakout Rooms, Google Docs, and CourseWorks (Canvas) can be used to help facilitate peer review. Find the platform or tool that will work best for your course context. Need assistance? Contact the CTL at [email protected]

Zoom Breakout Rooms

Zoom breakout rooms can be used during synchronous class sessions to simulate the small group discussions that may take place during in-class peer review. You can pre-assign students in peer review pairs or groups, or you can assign students randomly in the moment. With pre-assignments, you will want to consider if students will remain in the same peer review groups throughout the semester or if you’ll switch groups up across assignments. Additionally, will students be asked to read each other’s work ahead of the breakout room activity? If so, be sure to provide explicit expectations about what students should address and do in preparation for and during the peer review activity. 

See Zoom Help Center “ Enabling breakout rooms ;” “ Manage breakout rooms ;” and “ Pre-assign participants to breakout rooms .”

Google Docs 

Google Docs are a great tool for synchronous and asynchronous peer review. They are also particularly useful if you are planning to assess students’ peer review participation. Google Docs can be a valuable peer review facilitation tool, regardless of classroom format; whether in-person or online, synchronous or asynchronous, they can be used to help students foster their feedback skills. 

For synchronous class sessions or face-to-face classes , you might pair the Google Doc with small group peer review, either in-class or via Zoom breakout rooms. Students could be working in the same collaborative writing space while also talking with each other about their work and comments they are making. As the instructor, you can see students’ comments and feedback in real time, even if you do not join the breakout room discussions. 

Asynchronously, or for work done outside of a face-to-face course , you might ask students to share their work with each other and leave comments and feedback throughout the document. Students can respond to questions and comments left on the document, and the reviewers will be notified, prompting a dialogue. Additionally, there is a chat function within Google Docs , so two or more students, if working in the document at the same time, could ask questions and talk via chat. You may even consider pairing an asynchronous peer review activity with a brief in-class activity between pairs/groups.  

Creating and Sharing a Google Doc: Settings and Permissions Considerations: When using Google Docs, there are some important considerations related to sharing settings and access. The image below includes some of these steps and considerations; for more about sharing within LionMail, see CUIT’s LionMail (Google) Drive help page . 

what is peer review assignment

Accessible Graphic (PDF)

CourseWorks (Canvas)

You can use CourseWorks to facilitate peer review activities through a number of tools. Two of the most common ones include the Peer Review Function and the Discussions Tool . 

Peer Review Function: As its name suggests, the peer review function in CourseWorks allows the instructor to assign student work to others for review. This function is particularly useful in large classes (50+) as it helps manage the logistics of assigning peer review groups. It is also useful if you want to assign specific papers or work to specific students, or if you want the option for anonymous peer review comments. Any assignment you create in CourseWorks can be assigned to peer review; once selected, you can manually assign students work to peer review, or CourseWorks can randomly allocate the papers.

For more detailed information on assigning Peer Review in CourseWorks visit the Canvas help documentation .  

Discussions Tool: The Discussions tool allows students to easily share their work with each other. They can post their work as an attachment to a discussion post, (e.g. Word document, PDF) or by sharing a Google Doc link in the post itself. Because of its availability to the entire class, the Discussions tool is particularly useful when you want the whole class to see peers’ work, or if the number of viewers does not matter. If you would like to limit the view to only a number of select students, you can also assign a Discussion to a group of students and only those in that particular group will see the posts. 

No matter the use of the Discussions tool, whether through the whole-class or for select groups, it’s important to provide clear instructions that articulate the peer review goals and activity, as well as your expectations, for students. For instructions on how to create Discussion posts, visit the Canvas help documentation.

Columbia Resources

CTL Knowledge Base  CTL Office Hours and Support

Writing Centers provide various services to support students and their writing. They are a great resource for students’ to get additional feedback and support throughout the writing process, whether at the initial brainstorming stage or as students work to implement peer or instructor feedback. 

Barnard Writing Center Columbia Writing Center  Columbia School of Social Work Writing Center  Teachers College Graduate Writing Center

References 

Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M.C., & Norman, M.K. (2010). What is reader response/peer review and how can we use it? In S.A. Ambrose et al. How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching (pp. 257-9). Jossey-Bass.   

Bean, J. C. (2011). Have students conduct peer reviews of drafts. Engaging ideas: The professor’s guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom, 2nd Edition (pp. 295-302). Jossey-Bass. 

Lang, J.M. (2013). Cheating lessons: Learning from academic dishonesty . Harvard University  Press.

Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College. (n.d.). Guidelines for students – peer review . Pedagogy in Action: the SERC Portal for Educators. 

Additional Resources 

Salahub, J. (1994-2020). Peer review . The WAC Clearinghouse. Colorado State University. 

University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT). (n.d.). Feedback on student writing . CRLT. 

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Using Student Peer Review in Any Class

Why use peer review in my classes.

Peer review, also called peer editing, peer feedback, and formative peer assessment, allows students to provide and receive feedback on an assignment before submitting it to the instructor. When students give and get peer feedback on an assignment in progress, they can remind each other of assignment goals and criteria, get a sense of how readers might respond to their writing when those readers aren’t marking their work, and then make targeted changes to improve their assignments before submitting or presenting them. In this way, peer review takes some of the teaching and feedback load away from the instructor. Along the way, students enhance necessary workplace skills like giving and receiving feedback.

How do I assign peer review?

Peer review can be carried out in-class or out-of-class through paired or small-group guided critiques of a draft or early version of an assignment. You can provide a handout or set of instructions to students that is tailored to the assignment or to the class, like  this guide  from the Writing and Communication Centre. If you have a large class, software like PEAR is invaluable for managing the logistics of peer review.

How can I make peer review work well?

Giving useful feedback to peers is a skill that can be developed through guidance and practice. If you’ve ever received vague (at best) or cruel (at worst) reviews of your own work, you know: the ability to provide constructive, honest critique isn’t innate. Here are some ideas for teaching students how to provide valuable responses to each other—and to make use of the responses they receive.

Provide guiding questions or tasks to students

Students rarely know where to begin when providing feedback on their peers’ projects and assignments. To help students jump in, specify review tasks or questions you want them to answer about each other’s work.

Direct but open-ended questions work best. Questions that allow reviewers to mirror back to their peers what they’ve read or seen can be highly productive. Questions like, “What is the central claim of this paper, in your opinion?” or “What data did you find most convincing in this report and why?” or “What sections were most interesting to you on this poster and why?” can help students see how readers will understand their work—or not.

Critical questions that lead to actions are ideal. Questions like “What spots were most confusing to you in this report and what would make them clearer?” or “Which aspects of this proposal did you wish you could hear more about?” or “If this were your project, what is one thing you would do to revise it?” direct students in their critical feedback and nudge them to suggest follow-up actions for their peers.

You might also direct students to carry out tasks like generating an outline from their peer’s paper to demonstrate to the author how a reader might understand the organization of the paper or to use the assignment rubric to conduct an artificial evaluation of the assignment.

Finally, students benefit from direct tasks as reviewees as well as reviewers. To that end, guide students to take notes as they discuss their work with their peers or to include a memo when they submit their assignments in which they describe changes they made as a result of the feedback they received from their peers.

Teach students how to review rather than edit

Peer review that is focused on content and structure of an assignment in progress is the most beneficial for students since sentence-level editing is more productive as a final editing step. To teach students how to provide useful review comments rather than editing their peers’ work, using a handout or set of questions to guide the process is essential.

Students also do well with talking about the benefits of peer review and having a voice in the process. In advance of a peer review activity, conduct an activity or discussion with students to generate “dos and don’ts” or best practices so that students take ownership of their peer review. When asked, students will say that they find it frustrating when their peers only edit grammatical errors or say that an assignment is “fine.” Saying these frustrations aloud in advance of a peer review session will help students resist the urge to make these less-helpful responses to their peers and prompt them to provide more useful comments on organization, structure, content, or style.

When possible, conduct peer review sessions in class

One of the benefits of conducting peer reviews as an in-class activity rather than an online assignment is that students learn to see readers and viewers of their work as human beings with authentic responses. When doing peer review in person, surface-level editing becomes less valuable than a meaningful discussion of ideas or organization.

Many instructors implementing peer review assume that blind review is ideal, but recent research on anonymous peer review tells us otherwise. A study on peer review in English language learning courses showed that, although anonymizing the peer review process can help less advanced students give more thorough critiques to their classmates, anonymization makes no difference to the kind of feedback more advanced students provide (Garner and Hadingham, 2019). Since discussing ideas with peers is so useful, consider anonymizing only the first round of peer review each term until students gain more confidence with the process and can carry out meaningful in-person conversations about their work in progress.

Do peer review more than once in a term

Because peer review is a skill that can be developed, carrying out peer review activities three or four times in a twelve-week term is ideal. The first time students conduct peer review, they will require a lot of guidance, and their feedback will be less useful. By their third or fourth round, students are more comfortable and confident and, as a result, they provide richer responses to each other. At the same time, with multiple opportunities to give and receive feedback, students see for themselves the benefits of incorporating advice from their peers on their assignments; rather than seeing peer review as “make-work,” they invest their energy in what they now know is a worthwhile activity.

If you would like support applying these tips to your own teaching, CTE staff members are here to help.  View the  CTE Support  page to find the most relevant staff member to contact. 

CTE Teaching Tips

  • Methods for Assessing Group Work
  • Responding to Writing Assignments: Managing the Paper Load

Other Resources

  • For more ideas on preparing peer review guides for different assignments and disciplines, forming peer review groups, and preparing students to succeed with peer review, see this series of  Peer Review Resources  from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Writing Across the Curriculum program.
  • For suggestions for every step of incorporating peer review into your classes, see this detailed resource on  Planning and Guiding In-Class Peer Review  from Washington University in St. Louis.
  • a comprehensive  Guide to the Theory and Practice of Peer Review  from Waterloo’s Writing and Communication Centre
  • a  Peer Critiques Handout  from the University of Michigan
  • a series of targeted  Peer Review Sheets  from Brandeis University
  • For large classes,  use peer review software like PEAR . Contact your  CTE Liaison  to learn more.

Further Reading

  • Corbett, S. J., LaFrance, M., & Decker, T. E. (2014).  Peer pressure, peer power: Theory and practice in peer review and response for the writing classroom . Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press.
  • Garner, J., & Hadingham, O. (2019). Anonymizing the Peer Response Process: An Effective Way to Increase Proposed Revisions?.  Journal of Response to Writing,  5(1). Retrieved from https://journalrw.org/index.php/jrw/article/view/141
  • Nilson, L. B. (2003). Improving Student Peer Feedback.  College Teaching, 51 (1), 34-38. doi:10.1080/87567550309596408
  • Topping, K. J. (2009). Peer Assessment.  Theory Into Practice, 48 (1), 20-27. doi:10.1080/00405840802577569
  • Vickerman, P. (2009). Student perspectives on formative peer assessment: An attempt to deepen learning?  Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34 (2), 221-230. doi:10.1080/02602930801955986

teaching tips

  This Creative Commons license  lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format:  Using Student Peer Review in Any Class. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo .

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Instruct­ional Resources

Resources for instructors to use when planning, creating, teaching, and assessing

  • High Stakes and Low Stakes Assessment
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  • Open Book Assessments
  • Assessment Strategies: Considerations for Remote Instruction
  • End-of-Course Assessment Options
  • Bulletproofing Online Assessments
  • Considerations for Constructing an Exam
  • Question Types in Brightspace
  • Addressing Informal Accommodation Requests
  • Making Feedback Learner-Centered
  • Providing Feedback Electronically
  • Types of Feedback
  • Feedback Technologies
  • Soliciting Feedback from Students on Their Learning Experience (Alternatives to CEQs)
  • Types of Rubrics
  • Steps for Creating a Rubric
  • Resources to help create or use rubrics

Creating a Peer Review Assignment

From abstract to concrete: creating a peer review assignment.

If your course analysis and planning revealed the need for an assignment that includes peer review, now it is time to design that assignment. This resource will guide you in creating the peer review components of an assignment. It includes guidance for describing the assignment, clarifying expectations related to peer review, and how to provide feedback. Examples from a course that used peer review are included.

Any assignment design should include:

  • A clear description of the assignment
  • Learning outcomes
  • Evaluation breakdown and criteria
  • An outline of what is expected of students
  • A rubric or questions and criteria to consider when reviewing a peer’s work
  • Procedural or technical information needed to complete the assignment

The example content on this page under the Show/Hide links is from a first year Folklore course.

Information That Goes in the Course Syllabus

Below are items to consider including in your course syllabus. This information may be dispersed among pages such as the “Course Evaluation” page and the “Course Format and Expectations” page.

Short Essays

There are three (3) short essays that will go through the peer review process—each essay will be worth 20%.

Part of your grade will be based on your work within the peer review process. Learning to offer great peer feedback is a skill that requires practice, and can be very rewarding for all involved. Learning to receive peer feedback and use it effectively can help you improve your work in this course and future courses. To get the most out of this peer review process, you need to make each draft a complete, full-length essay with a controlling idea, organization, and conclusion.

For each short essay you will:

  • Submit a draft, by the due date, for your peers to review (1%)
  • Review the work of two of your peers and provide feedback that they can use to improve their essay (2%)
  • Reflect on your peers’ feedback of your work and revise your draft using feedback from your peers and your own reflections (1%)
  • Revise your draft using feedback from your peers and your own reflections and submit a final version of your essay for your instructor (16%)

How to Provide Feedback

Think about how to share written feedback in a constructive way. Read the papers of each of your group members and provide feedback that they can use to improve their paper. An effective peer review includes the following:

  • general comments about the paper;
  • specific descriptions of what you liked / didn’t like or what was effective / ineffective; and
  • specific advice about what can be improved.

The following statements stems will help you respond to your peers:

  • “I’d like to hear more about…”
  • “This is what I find interesting…”

And, as always, think about the questions:

  • “What surprised me?”
  • “What intrigued me?”
  • “What disturbed me?”

Additional Tips

  • Don’t withhold constructive feedback about areas of improvement.
  • Pay attention to the language used – positive and constructive versus judgemental.
  • Focus on the strengths and weakness of the individual’s work, not the individual themselves or their personality.
  • Be specific.
  • If possible, begin and end with positive comments, include areas for improvement in the middle.
  • Be realistic — are the suggested changes doable within the content of the assignment?
  • Present your own thoughts on your peer’s work versus stating your suggested changes as facts.

When providing feedback via comments, be sure that it has the right level of detail and that it is clear and states your objective opinion. If feedback is excessively brief or vague, excessively detailed, or subjective rather than objective, it becomes about personal taste and preference and may be confusing, off-putting or difficult to use.

Peer Review Using peerScholar

When your assignment draft is complete you will use peerScholar to complete the peer review process.

Peer review has three phases in peerScholar:

  • Create — submit your work for your peers to review
  • Assess — review your peer’s assignment and provide feedback to your to them
  • review feedback that your peers provided to you
  • carefully consider how you would like to incorporate the feedback
  • revise your essay and resubmit it for your instructor

Submit your assignment via peerScholar by the due date provided in the course schedule. Your assignment will be available to your peers for review when the Create phase is closed and the Assess phase begins.

Submission Steps:

  • On the page “Short Essay: Peer Review Phase 1” click the link “peerScholar”.
  • Once peerScholar opens, select the “Create” link.
  • Copy and paste your essay into the compose window, or attach a file.
  • Save your work.
  • Select “Preview” to see what your saved essay will look like when you submit it.

Now it is time to review essays from two of your peers and provide feedback to them. Your peers will do the same for you! Feedback will be available when the Assess phase is closed and the Reflect phase begins.

Steps to provide feedback to your peers:

  • On the page “Short Essay: Peer Review Phase 2” click the link “peerScholar”.
  • Once peerScholar opens, select the “Assess” link.
  • Carefully read the work of each or your peers and provide them with feedback using the inline comments tool and by answering the questions provided.

Review the feedback you received from your peers on your work and think critically about it to decide how you want to incorporate their feedback. Then, revise your essay and resubmit for your instructor.

Steps to reflect on your peers’ feedback and to resubmit your essay:

  • Once peerScholar opens, select the “Reflect” link.
  • Carefully read the feedback that each peer provided. Decide on how you want to incorporate the feedback.
  • Toggle to the Revision screen to see you a copy of your original composition. Revise your essay and resubmit it to peerScholar for your instructor to grade. You may also upload a revised document.

Where possible, include a rubric in a peer review assignment. The rubric will benefit instructors when they configure the assignment and create assessments to use during the peer review, it will benefit students when they complete the assignment, and it will benefit all of those involved in evaluating and providing feedback.

Educational Benefits of Using a Rubric

  • Students can score their peer’s work using the rubric
  • A rubric can act as a guide in a student’s exploration of their peer’s work
  • Using a rubric encourages a discovery mind set
  • Students can identify examples of what good work looks like and what poor work looks like
  • If you average five or more peer-assessments that took place based on a rubric, the average score tends to be a very good estimate of the student’s skill

Making the Rubric Available to Students

Make sure a copy of the rubric is available in Brightspace and peerScholar:

  • Attach a rubric as part of the assignment details in the course syllabus
  • In the Create phase of peerScholar, attach a rubric and refer to the attached rubric in the instructions

Information That Goes in a Module

You can add specific information about an assignment, phase, or deliverable directly in your module or weekly content. Information can include:

  • Descriptions and details about a specific topic or deliverable
  • Required readings and resources
  • Value for the deliverable
  • Link to launch the application, if applicable

Note: The title of the short essay has been changed and links are inactive.

Week 3: Overview

Short essay: “title tbd” (20%).

If you haven’t started already, it’s time to start your Short Essay: “Title TBD”.

Instructions

Read the story “Title TBD”, and watch the two videos of the stories being told. After carefully reading the tale, and watching the videos, please consider the following questions:

  • What “life lessons” are emphasized in the tale?
  • How might these tales reflect the values and beliefs of members of Newfoundland outport communities in the first half of the 20th century?
  • What “real world” lessons are highlighted through this tale?
  • Have you heard/seen/read alternate versions of this tale?
  • What does each version of the story emphasize? (Compare and contrast)

When your draft version of your essay is complete, submit it via peerScholar for your peers to review.

See the course evaluation page for general information about Short Essays and about peer review. See the course schedule for dues dates.

what is peer review assignment

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Peer Review

What is canvas peer review.

Canvas allows students to electronically peer review classmates' assignments or discussions. Instructors may configure the peer review option to automatically create review groups, or they may manually assign peer groups. Whenever students submit an assignment or post to a discussion area that requires peer review, they will see a list of their assigned reviews. Clicking a name on the list will bring them directly to a review screen with their peer's draft or discussion postings. Instructors can access a peer review overview screen that indicates which students have completed assigned reviews, along with seeing the online peer review work that each student has done.

IMPORTANT:  Canvas peer review only works for texts that can be reviewed in a digital medium. Traditional, alphabetic texts or visual texts work best given the commenting features available. If you are trying to do a peer review of some other type of text (e.g a video, website, or podcast) or if you're just trying to workshop a specific skill (e.g. claims, quotation integration, or summaries), it might be more useful to do an informal peer review on a discussion board .  

Some Necessary Considerations:

The peer review feature on Canvas is a useful tool that can facilitate our work with writing in English courses whether in or out of the classroom. The tool has the same commenting functions as the SpeedGrader tool for teachers: students can peer review via writing marginal comments, highlighting, or typing on the paper. An example is seen below:

what is peer review assignment

Before getting started in explaining how to use this technology, here is a brief explanation of what developers have made available with this tool, so you can decide if it will suit your needs. 

1. The Canvas peer review tool allows students to do online peer review. You can select what kind of submissions students should upload, and these are the same types as what is available for assignment submissions. The most common selections are "text entry," which will allow students to type in a text box, or "file uploads," which you can even select what types of files will be accepted (e.g. .doc or .docx files).

2. If students are working on a group project, you can make Canvas accept one submission on behalf of the entire group, and then assign one group to peer review another group's work.

3. You may assign peer reviewers either manually or automatically.

4. You can make the peer reviews anonymous. 

5. You are only allowed to select one due date on the assignment. Canvas sets up peer review as a one-time activity for each assignment that you create. This may be contrary to the way you wish to administer peer review. However, you can absolutely use the tool to support many iterations of peer review. To do this, you need to create multiple peer review assignments: one for each iteration, and this will be discussed below. 

The image below is what you will see once you create an assignment, and the numbers correspond to the above listed considerations.

what is peer review assignment

Now that we've discussed what peer review on Canvas can be used for, let's take a look at how you would do this process. 

Before Setting Up Peer Review On Canvas:

You must first decide what type of peer review you would like to do.

This includes thinking through:

  • what you want to accomplish pedagogically (i.e. work on a particular skill, have peers provide holistic feedback, etc.),
  • when in the writing process your peer review will occur (i.e. before/after students have turned in their papers or before/after students have received feedback, etc.),
  • and how students will be completing the peer review (as an in-class activity, as homework, etc.).

All of these elements will impact what the best protocol is for setting up assignments and peer review on Canvas. 

Single Draft Peer Feedback

Single draft, or “traditional” peer review might be considered on a draft so that the peer feedback will work to develop a piece of writing that will later be evaluated by the instructor. This could be a formal (for a grade) or informal (not for a grade) activity in your class. For a peer review to occur before the submission of the assignment, you will need to create two assignments: one for the peer review and another for the version they want feedback from you.  See an example below for details:

what is peer review assignment

In the above example, "Essay 1 First Draft" is the assignment set up for students to do peer review, and the "Essay 1 Final Draft" is the assignment set up to get formally assessed by the teacher.

Multiple Drafts with Peer Feedback

what is peer review assignment

In the above example, the instructor uses "Researcher's Notebook" as the name of the assignment for the first thing they want students to do for "Essay 2": upload a pre-draft to get feedback from the instructor. Then, the "Essay 2 First Draft" is a separate assignment with peer review capabilities because the instructor wanted students to revise based on the comments on the "Researcher's Notebook" and get peer feedback on the revised draft.  Finally, the last assignment is entitled "Essay 2 Final Draft," which is the last iteration of this assignment, meant to get feedback from the instructor (along with the final grade). 

Discussion Board Peer Review

Another option is to use the Discussion function rather than the Assignment function in Canvas. It might be a good choice if you are planning to have students do the activity in class, and if there is a value to students being able to see everyone’s feedback. 

Additional Tips:

  • When naming the titles of Assignments and Discussions , you can choose what you like, just be sure to remain clear and consistent with your students.
  • You can and should use different types of peer review activities . This helps to keep students engaged and meet different learning styles.
  • Students will need instructions from you on how to use the type of peer review you have selected in Canvas, and also a pedagogical explanation for the value of peer review. Remember that many students (especially at the 100-level) have not used peer review, and if they have, they still might have skepticism about its benefits. Peer review is not a self-supporting activity. Like anything other type of lesson, it requires instructions, guidance, and a transparency toward purpose and function (scaffolding).
  • It is always important with any activity, but especially those utilizing technology to prepare for a contingency plan . This is especially a concern if you are conducting your peer review during class time. For example, if you are doing the peer review during class and have manually assigned, a student absence might create an issue. To help prevent this, you can try assigning 3 or 4 peer reviews to each student. That way, the likelihood of issues are reduced. Or, you can wait to do the assignments on the day of. Prepare a short activity (like a free-write) while you do this in class.
  • There have been some glitches with the auto-assign function, so you may need to try that again if students can't access papers immediately . However, always be mindful of the time . If you are spending too much time trying to make a function work, consider an alternative plan. Other options include having students email one another, utilize the hard drive, or look on eachothers’ screens.Try to be prepared and use your best judgment in order to best meet the needs of your class.
  • If you need advice on peer review , either on thinking through it pedagogically or functionally on Canvas, please seek out the support of EWP’s CIC administrative staff. You can also visit Canvas' instructor support guide or directly contact the Canvas help team ( [email protected] ).

Setting up Peer Review Within an Assignment on Canvas

How to set up peer review within an assignment:.

what is peer review assignment

  • Next, set the due date in the Assign Reviews section. Setting the due date is essential on Canvas. You MUST make the due date after assignment is due. You can put in a date if you want to, but if you don’t, the peer reviews will be assigned when students turn in papers. Remember, Canvas does not allow multiple due dates within a single assignment. Refer to the previous information to think through this. It may be appropriate to set up another assignment at this time. For more information on how students can submit their peer feedback and view their peers’ feedback once given, go here and here .

Setting up Peer Review Within a Discussion on Canvas

How to set up peer review within a discussion:.

Another way to do peer review is with discussion boards. Discussion board peer reviews are a good choice if you want students to have access to everyone's drafts instead of just one or more that are assigned to them. There are two main ways to use discussion boards for peer review:

 The first way to set up discussion board peer review is similar to what was outlined above in setting up a peer review assignment. The difference between an assignment and a discussion peer review is that students can see all students' submissions. To do a Canvas discussion peer review:

1. Go to assignments, and add an assignment by clicking the "+" button.

what is peer review assignment

2.  Be sure the type is listed as "Discussion." Note: it will typically have "Assignment" as the type, so use the drop down function to change it.

what is peer review assignment

3. From here, follow the steps outlined above when creating a peer review assignment: select  More Options, then  Require Peer Reviews , decide if you want manual/automatic reviews, etc.

Checking Progress and Viewing Completed Reviews

what is peer review assignment

The Student View in Peer Review

1. Once students have been assigned their peer reviews, they will see a list of their assigned reviews :

what is peer review assignment

2. Next, students will click on their peers' names to access their drafts.

3. From there, a document review screen will open. Students can click the preview icon to see their peer’s text and open Canvas’s in-text comment options .

what is peer review assignment

4. Students are able to comment in multiple ways, the "Add a Comment " function allows them to include a brief note.

what is peer review assignment

5. Students are also able to make comments directly on the draft by using Canvas'' “Comment” options, pictured below.

what is peer review assignment

6. Once finished, students might want to attach a file (if appropriate), but will also need to save.

7. After saving, Canvas will display a confirmation message above your students' peer’s text. Note that they may have to refresh the page to see the message.

what is peer review assignment

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Center for Teaching Innovation

Resource library, teaching students to evaluate each other, why use peer review.

Peer assessment, or review, can improve overall learning by helping students become better readers, writers, and collaborators. A well-designed peer review program also develops students’ evaluation and assessment skills. The following are a few techniques that instructors have used to implement peer review.

Planning for peer review

  • Identify where you can incorporate peer review exercises into your course.
  • For peer review on written assignments, design guidelines that specify clearly defined tasks for the reviewer. Consider what feedback students can competently provide.
  • Determine whether peer review activities will be conducted as in-class or out-of-class assignments (or as a combination of both).
  • Plan for in-class peer reviews to last at least one class session. More time will be needed for longer papers and papers written in foreign languages.
  • Model appropriate constructive criticism and descriptive feedback through the comments you provide on papers and in class.
  • Explain the reasons for peer review, the benefits it provides, and how it supports course learning outcomes.
  • Set clear expectations: determine whether students will receive grades on their contributions to peer review sessions. If grades are given, be clear about what you are assessing, what criteria will be used for grading, and how the peer review score will be incorporated into their overall course grade.

Before the first peer review session

  • Give students a sample paper to review and comment on in class using the peer review guidelines. Ask students to share feedback and help them rephrase their comments to make them more specific and constructive, as needed.
  • Consider using the sample paper exercise to teach students how to think about, respond to, and use comments by peer reviewers to improve their writing.
  • Ask for input from students on the peer review worksheet or co-create a rubric in class.
  • Prevent overly harsh peer criticism by instructing students to provide feedback as if they were speaking to the writer or presenter directly.
  • Consider how you will assign students to groups. Do you want them to work together for the entire semester, or change for different assignments? Do you want peer reviewers to remain anonymous? How many reviews will each assignment receive?

During and after peer review sessions

  • Give clear directions and time limits for in-class peer review sessions and set defined deadlines for out-of-class peer review assignments.
  • Listen to group discussions and provide guidance and input when necessary.
  • Consider requiring students to write a plan for revision indicating the changes they intend to make on the paper and explaining why they have chosen to acknowledge or disregard specific comments and suggestions. For exams and presentations, have students write about how they would approach the task next time based on the peer comments.
  • Ask students to submit the peer feedback they received with their final papers. Make clear whether or not you will be taking this feedback into account when grading the paper, or when assigning a participation grade to the student reviewer.
  • Consider having students assess the quality of the feedback they received.
  • Discuss the process in class, addressing problems that were encountered and what was learned.

Examples of peer review activities

  • After collection, redistribute papers randomly along with a grading rubric. After students have evaluated the papers ask them to exchange with a neighbor, evaluate the new paper, and then compare notes.
  • After completing an exam, have students compare and discuss answers with a partner. You may offer them the opportunity to submit a new answer, dividing points between the two.
  • In a small class, ask students to bring one copy of their paper with their name on it and one or two copies without a name. Collect the “name” copy and redistribute the others for peer review. Provide feedback on all student papers. Collect the peer reviews and return papers to their authors.
  • For group presentations, require the class to evaluate the group’s performance using a predetermined marking scheme.
  • When working on group projects, have students evaluate each group member’s contribution to the project on a scale of 1-10. Require students to provide rationale for how and why they awarded points.

Peer review technologies

Best used for providing feedback (formative assessment), PeerMark is a peer review program that encourages students to evaluate each other’s work. Students comment on assigned papers and answer scaled and free-form questions designed by the instructor. PeerMark does not allow you to assign point values or assign and export grades.

Contact the Center for a consultation on using these peer assessment tools.

Cho, K., & MacArthur, C. (2010). Student revision with peer and expert reviewing.  Learning and Instruction , 20 (4), 328-338.

Kollar, I., & Fischer, F. (2010). Peer assessment as collaborative learning: A cognitive perspective.  Learning and Instruction , 20 (4), 344-348.

The Teaching Center. (2009). Planning and guiding in-class peer review.  Washington University in St. Louis.  Retrieved from  http://teachingcenter.wustl.edu/resources/writing-assignments-feedback/planning-and-guiding-in-class-peer-review/ .

Wasson, B., & Vold, V. (2012). Leveraging new media skills in a peer feedback tool.  Internet and Higher Education , 15 (4), 1-10.

Xie, Y., Ke, F., & Sharma, P. (2008). The effect of peer feedback for blogging on college students’ reflective learning processes.  Internet and Higher Education , 11 (1), 18-25.

van Zundert, M., Sluijsmans, D., & van Merriënboer, J. (2010). Effective peer assessment processes: Research findings and future directions.  Learning and Instruction , 20 (4), 270-279.

Pedagogy in Action

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Guidelines for Students - Peer Review

Student guidelines for peer review.

  • Before you even make your first comment, read the document all the way through.
  • Make sure you leave enough time for you to read through, respond, and for your peer to edit his/her document with your comments before any deadlines.
  • If you are provided with a feedback form to fill out and something is unclear, do not ignore the item but ask the instructor for clarification.
  • Point out the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the document.
  • Offer suggestions, not commands.
  • Editorial comments should be appropriate and constructive. There is no need to be rude. Be respectful and considerate of the writer's feelings.
  • Be sure that your comments are clear and text-specific so that your peer will know what you are referring to (for example, terms such as "unclear" or "vague" are too general to be helpful).
  • Try not to overwhelm your peer with too much commentary. Follow the feedback form and the issues you are supposed to address.
  • Be careful not to let your own opinions bias your review (for example, don't suggest that your peer completely rewrite the paper just because you don't agree with his/her point of view).
  • Reread your comments before passing them on to your peer. Make sure all your comments make sense and are easy to follow.
  • Avoid turning your peer's paper into your paper.

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Home › Stories › Engaging Your Students Through the Use of Peer Review

Engaging Your Students Through the Use of Peer Review

By Crystal DeJaegher

Are you looking for ways to help students grow their skills when it comes to critiquing the work of others?  Would you like to assist them in their development of lifelong skills (e.g., preparing and receiving feedback, communicating with others effectively, collaboration) which translate to life outside of the classroom?  Consider incorporating peer review and using the Peer Review and rubric tools in Canvas to facilitate the process. 

Peer review assignments assist students in the development of soft, transferable skills including communication, critical thinking, collaboration/teamwork, and awareness (Wu, Chanda, and Willison, 2014; Suñol et al., 2016).  Peer review is a one approach to keep students learning and involved, which leads them to engage in self-regulation (Zimmerman, 1990) and active learning (Bonwell & Eison, 1991) and to take more responsibility for managing their own learning (e.g., Logan, 2009; Volante, Beckett, Reid & Drake, 2010).

In becoming a part of the peer review process, students engage in metacognitive reflection.  They learn what is appreciated in an answer and can successfully locate common errors and deficiencies (Mirmotahari & Berg, 2008) and by understanding the criteria outlined by the instructor, students can more easily commit to and articulate a judgement (Tai et al., 2017).  This opens the door for collaborative exchange of ideas and feedback among students by creating a space for dialogue where students better understand standards and produce better work in the future (Yucel et al., 2014).  Students’ participation in peer review is likely to create a more cohesive classroom community.

Planning and Getting Started with Peer Review

Planning for peer review can be a substantial time investment.  It is more than simply identifying the assignment and the evaluative criteria. From the 30,000 ft. view, you can look at the entire whole of a semester class and figure out how to build in peer review components across the term in ways that make the most sense.  Depending on your class content, it may be that you want to incorporate peer review into the rhythm of a recurrent project cycle.  If you aren’t ready to dive in headfirst with peer review, you can certainly look at discrete elements in your course–perhaps a midterm and a final essay or project submission–where peer review might be the most useful and utilize it there.  Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to clearly identify what you hope to achieve and what you want your students to accomplish through the peer review process.  It is also highly recommended that you plan out and model a peer review workflow by conducting an in-class ‘mock’ review.  This type of exercise helps ensure that your students are on the same page with your expectations.

When all of this work is done, identify an assignment (or more) and develop evaluation criteria–generally, this works really well in the form of a rubric which can also be built directly on Canvas and associated with your assignment.   You should also take care in planning how you will evaluate students for their peer review performance to make sure that students aren’t just  providing perfunctory selections in a rubric or making comments which have no chance at making a substantial impact on their peer’s next iteration of the assignment.

Use Cases/Example

Peer Review assessments can be used as a formative (i.e., check learning in progress) or a summative (i.e., end of learning activity) to gauge student progress.   

Use Case #1: Papers and Projects (Summative)

For written assignments, particularly those which are guided by a formalized writing process (e.g., in the humanities, research, etc.), peer review can be especially helpful to students as they work their way from an initial draft to final draft.  For example, students are provided an assignment with the rubric criteria, along with a deadline for the 1st draft.  Students submit the first draft and are automatically assigned a peer review partner in Canvas (this can also be done manually).  A defined window of time should be provided for peer review feedback; again this is where modeling feedback and responding to feedback can be helpful skillbuilding for your students.  The students make modifications based on feedback provided by their peers and submit a final draft to the instructor for grading.  One benefit of this, from an instructor’s perspective, is that — with adequate scaffolding and preparation, students should be able to engage in this process in a way which increases the quality of the final draft products received.

Peer review is also useful for projects which contain several stages or multiple components which will be submitted over the course of a given semester.  Much like papers, a multi-stage or multi-component project can be evaluated in sequence.  One example I have from teaching is where students use the entire semester to create a project portfolio.  Each project in that portfolio goes through a peer review cycle where students draft, peer review, and submit a final draft for instructor assessment.

Use Case #2: Discussions

Online discussion forums or threads can be tricky to implement as part of your class participation or assessment strategy.  Students often go through the motions and do not always make meaningful connections or contributions in these forums, typically doing enough to earn points, but not always in an authentically engaging way.  Adding peer review to a graded discussion in Canvas is another application of peer review as a strategy to promote authentic engagement and involvement in class conversations.

Canvas Confessions:  Peer Review

As an instructor myself, I find peer review to be extremely useful in engaging students in project work.  Students in my class work all semester long to construct a portfolio of multimedia artifacts that they will be using as professional representation when they enter the job market post-graduation.  I am a proponent of using rubrics for peer review and for providing students with the same criteria which I would use to grade.  I would flag that the expectation for them is to provide peer feedback–they are not being asked to ‘play teacher’ and assess the work in the same way.  It’s important that they know their peer feedback is critical and will ideally advance their peer’s learning in a given domain as well as their own.  I underscore that the role of peer reviewer is not one of being an editor–simply to get them to go beneath the surface of the work they review.

Though our students often come to us as novices when it comes to formal assessment and evaluation, modeling, scaffolding, and guidelines seem to work together to improve final project submissions (which are the ones I assess for a grade).  The key in all of this is your commitment and clear communication.

While I’ve used peer review strategies with both undergraduate and graduate students, I would suggest that undergraduate students may benefit from additional scaffolding, modeling,  or opportunities to practice.  For instance, you might have them only focus on a subset of the criteria in your rubric during a particular stage of the work giving them a narrower focus and providing feedback on the most critical criteria at that stage. Including peer review will go miles to enhance skill development and towards class community building.  

Canvas Peer Review Resources

  • Create a Peer Review Assignment
  • Peer Review Assignments Instructor View (video)
  • How to set up Peer Reviews (video)
  • Peer Reviews in Canvas (video)
  • How to as a student (video)
  • Canvas Peer Review with a rubric (video)
  • Peer Review Tips

Additional Resources for Peer Review

  • Planning and Guiding In-Class Peer Review
  • Remote Peer Review Strategies
  • Implementing Peer Review Assessments

References:

Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. 1991 ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Reports . ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education, The George Washington University, One Dupont Circle, Suite 630, Washington, DC 20036-1183.

Logan, E. (2009). Self and peer assessment in action. Practitioner Research in Higher Education , 3 (1), 29-35.

Mirmotahari, O., & Berg, Y. (2018, April). Structured peer review using a custom assessment program for electrical engineering students. In 2018 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON) (pp. 999-1006). IEEE.

Ndoye, A. (2017). Peer/Self Assessment and Student Learning. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education , 29 (2), 255-269.

Reinholz, D. (2016). The assessment cycle: a model for learning through peer assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 41 (2), 301-315.

Suñol, J. J., Arbat, G., Pujol, J., Feliu, L., Fraguell, R. M., & Planas-Lladó, A. (2016). Peer and self-assessment applied to oral presentations from a multidisciplinary perspective. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 41 (4), 622-637.

Tai, J. H. M., Canny, B. J., Haines, T. P., & Molloy, E. K. (2017). Implementing peer learning in clinical education: a framework to address challenges in the “real world”. Teaching and learning in medicine , 29 (2), 162-172.

Volante, L., Beckett, D., Reid, J., & Drake, S. (2010). Teachers’ Views on Conducting Formative Assessment within Contemporary Classrooms. Online Submission .

Wu, C., Chanda, E., & Willison, J. (2014). Implementation and outcomes of online self and peer assessment on group based honours research projects. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 39 (1), 21-37.

Yucel, R., Bird, F. L., Young, J., & Blanksby, T. (2014). The road to self-assessment: exemplar marking before peer review develops first-year students’ capacity to judge the quality of a scientific report. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 39 (8), 971-986.

Zimmerman, B. J. (1990). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An overview. Educational psychologist , 25 (1), 3-17.

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Peer Review

Benefits of peer review, how does devoting class time to peer review help student writing.

  • Peer review  builds student investment  in writing and  helps students understand the relationship between their writing and their coursework  in ways that undergraduates sometimes overlook. It forces students to engage with writing and encourages the self-reflexivity that fosters critical thinking skills. Students become lifelong thinkers and writers who learn to question their own work, values, and engagement instead of simply responding well to a prompt.
  • Making the writing process more collaborative through peer review  gives students opportunities to learn from one another  and to  think carefully about the role of writing in the course at hand . The  goals of the assignment are clarified.  By assessing whether or not individual student examples meet the requirements, students are forced to focus on goals instead of getting distracted entirely by grammar and mechanics or by their own anxiety.
  • Studies have shown that  even strong writers benefit from the process of peer review : students report that they learn as much or more from identifying and articulating weaknesses in a peer’s paper as from incorporating peers’ feedback into their own work.
  • Peer review  provides students with contemporary models of disciplinary writing . Because students often learn writing skills in English class, at least in high school, their models for “good writing” might be entirely general or ill-suited to your class. Peer review gives them a communal space to explore writing in the disciplines.
  • Peer review  allows students to clarify their own ideas  as they explain them to classmates and as they formulate questions about their classmates’ writing. This is helpful to writers at all skill levels, in all classes, and at all stages of the writing process.
  • Peer review  provides professional experience for students  having their writing reviewed. Peer review is the process by which professionals in the field publish, it’s how managers and co-workers provide feedback in the workplace, and it’s a skill with practical application.
  • Last but not least, peer review  minimizes last minute drafting  and may cut down on common lower-level writing errors.

Cho, Kwangsu, Christian D. Schunn, and Davida Charney. “Commenting on Writing: Typology and Perceived Helpfulness of Comments from Novice Peer Reviewers and Subject Matter Experts.”  Written Communication  23.3 (2006): 260-294.

Graff, Nelson. “Approaching Authentic Peer Review.”  The English Journal  95.5 (2009): 81-89.

Nilson, Linda B. “Improving Student Peer Feedback.”  College Teaching  51.1 (2003): 34-38.

“Using Peer Review to Help Students Improve Writing.”    The Teaching Center .  Washington University in St. Louis. n.d. Web. 1 June 2014.

  • Our Mission

Peer Review Done Right

A high school English teacher discusses how he improved the peer review process in his classroom after early attempts came up short.

Two high school students give each other feedback on their essays

Having students participate in a peer review can be an extremely rewarding endeavor, but English teachers often run into issues during the process. Students may not feel comfortable or confident enough to provide feedback. Sometimes students are overwhelmed because their partners’ work has too many problems. Whatever the case, there are ways to make the experience valuable for the students who are reviewing their peers’ work and for those getting their work reviewed.

There are lots of tools teacher can use to conduct the peer review, even if class time is limited. Digital sharing can be a great, useful homework assignment. Tools like Turnitin.com and Google Docs are good options for completing a peer review at home, but so is old-school printing and exchanging paper copies.

The benefits for teachers of infusing lessons with peer review include incorporating lessons in working with others and in giving and reviewing feedback, helping students improve their final products, teaching about audience in the writing process, and practicing grammar, just to name a few. But problems arise in the traditional process that many teachers use.

The peer review process that I made the mistake of planning early on as a teacher looked a lot like the one I had experienced as a student: I paired students up or they picked their partners. I gave them some questions to answer or some tasks to complete, like underlining the thesis, finding exemplary sentences, noting areas of confusion, fixing grammatical errors, etc. When the pair finished the exercise, they would discuss their comments.

This process seemed to work at the time, but after talking with students, I learned that it hadn’t really worked all that well. Unhelpful comments like “good job” were mixed in with a comma added here or there, but the exercise ultimately didn’t move the final product as far as I had hoped.

When I talked it over with my students, they gave me feedback like this:

  • “My partner’s essay was so much better than mine was that I didn’t feel like I could even help her.”
  • “I didn’t want to hurt my partner’s feelings.”
  • “There were so many mistakes, I didn’t know where to start.”

Improving the Peer Review Process

This feedback prompted me to examine the process more closely and involve students in remaking the peer review exercise. I tried to remove some of the barriers that prevented the process from working the way I wanted it to by incorporating the following ideas.

1. Scaffolding matters: I used more student-produced samples to look at as a class. Using exemplars and examples gave the students models to compare their own writing to, and it gave them a venue for examining what constructive feedback looked like compared to the unhelpful feedback they were used to providing or receiving.

Additionally, I used samples from students in other sections of the same course (anonymously, of course) or student samples from prior years’ assignments, which gave my students the language necessary to discuss areas of strength in their peers’ work and areas in need of improvement. This common language was a necessary prerequisite that I thought my students already had when I was starting out.

2. A narrow approach is valuable:  To help students focus and alleviate their fears of inadequacy, I limited their roles in helping their peers by asking them respond to one area of a partner’s work. Focusing in on one area helped them feel less overwhelmed and more confident in their ability to identify and help fix a problem in their partner’s essay.

During initial peer review sessions, I directed the class to look at one particular area (e.g., introductions) and modeled the types of questions good writers ask their editors. The more developed our language became in discussing writing, the more freedom I gave the pairs to choose which area to examine and critique.

3. Fostering a culture of constructive criticism: Additionally, I needed to address the concern of hurting someone’s feelings. I accomplished this, at least in part, by doing class peer reviews. I also strove to create an environment where criticism was embraced. How did I do that? I worked to demonstrate to my students that the writing process is something of value and that in real life we all need the help of others to make ourselves better. Fixing this problem really evolved into creating a classroom climate that accepted faults and imperfection.

4. Timing is everything: Lastly, peer reviews are typically done before the assignment is due. Unfortunately, this tells students that the writing process is over when an assignment is turned in. I added subsequent peer reviews to revisit the same assignment with the same or different partners the day the assignment is due and again after it’s been graded. Why? Because the writing process is never over, and improving products that have been graded is an opportunity for students to see peer and teacher feedback can be used to drive their improvement and growth.

About PeerMark™ assignments

PeerMark is a peer review assignment tool. Instructors can create and manage PeerMark assignments that allow students to read, review, and evaluate one or many papers submitted by their classmates. With the advanced options in PeerMark instructors can choose whether the reviews are anonymous or attributed.

The basic stages of the peer review process:

  • Instructor creates a Turnitin paper assignment.
  • Instructor creates a PeerMark assignment and sets the number of papers students will be required to review, and creates free response and scale questions for students to respond to while reviewing papers.
  • Student papers are submitted to the Turnitin assignment.
  • On the PeerMark assignment start date, students begin writing peer reviews.

For each assigned paper, students write reviews by responding to the free response and scale questions.

  • Students receive reviews when other students complete them.
  • Once the PeerMark assignment due date passes, no more reviews can be written, completed, or edited by the writer

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Submit peer reviewed assignments, learner help center nov 29, 2023 • knowledge, article details.

When you submit a peer-reviewed assignment, other learners in the course will review your work and submit feedback . 

You'll also need to give feedback to other learners. Your grade might be affected if you don't give feedback.

If you're having trouble with a peer reviewed assignment, check our troubleshooting page .

Steps to submit

To submit a peer reviewed assignment:

  • Open the course you want to submit an assignment for.
  • Click the Grades tab.
  • Choose the assignment you want to submit work for.
  • Read the instructions, then click My submission to submit your assignment.
  • To save a draft of your assignment, click Save draft .
  • To see what your saved assignment will look like when you submit it, click Preview .
  • Before you submit, ensure the assignment is above the minimum word count. The default minimum is five words, but a course may have a unique minimum set.
  • To make changes to your saved assignment, click Edit .
  • To submit your assignment for peer review, click Submit for review .

By submitting a peer reviewed assignment, you confirm that you understand and will follow our privacy policies about peer reviewed work.

When will I receive feedback from my peers?

You'll receive a grade on your assignment within 7-10 days, as long as you've received at least one peer review.

When you get feedback, you may see the name of the learner who gave it. If your instructor has anonymous feedback turned on, you’ll see a notice at the top of the feedback for the assignment.

I can’t submit my assignment

If you can’t submit your assignment, make sure that your answers are all over the minimum word limit.

You may not be able to submit your assignment if your answers are too similar to another learner’s submission. Please keep in mind that plagiarism is against the Coursera Honor Code. 

If you see a notification letting you know that your assignment answers are similar to another learner’s submission, you’ll need to update your response before submitting. 

Once you’ve updated your answers with original work, the Submit for review button will appear.

If you need more time to work on your assignment, you can click Save draft and come back to it later.

If you think you shouldn’t be seeing this error, you can click the link below the notification to let us know. You’ll be able to submit your assignment after you edit your answers.

If you aren’t seeing any error messages, but are still not able to submit your assignment, try these troubleshooting steps.

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Attempt limits

Some private courses (such as courses in a Degree or MasterTrack program) may have a limit on how many times you can submit a peer-reviewed assignment.

If there's an attempt limit for your assignment, you'll see an 'Attempts' section listed near the top of the page when you open the assignment.

If you meet the attempt limit and need help with your grade, you can reach out to your program support team. You can find your dedicated support email address in the onboarding course for your program.

Save your work as a draft

If you want to start working on an assignment but you don't want to submit it yet, you can save it as a draft. When you save an assignment as a draft:

  • You can work on your saved draft from any computer or device if you log in with your Coursera account.
  • No one will be able to see or review your work until you submit it.
  • You can save a draft as many times as you want before submitting it.

To save an assignment as a draft, click  Save draft when you're working on it.

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Methodology

  • What Is Peer Review? | Types & Examples

What Is Peer Review? | Types & Examples

Published on December 17, 2021 by Tegan George . Revised on June 22, 2023.

Peer review, sometimes referred to as refereeing , is the process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Using strict criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decides whether to accept each submission for publication.

Peer-reviewed articles are considered a highly credible source due to the stringent process they go through before publication.

There are various types of peer review. The main difference between them is to what extent the authors, reviewers, and editors know each other’s identities. The most common types are:

  • Single-blind review
  • Double-blind review
  • Triple-blind review

Collaborative review

Open review.

Relatedly, peer assessment is a process where your peers provide you with feedback on something you’ve written, based on a set of criteria or benchmarks from an instructor. They then give constructive feedback, compliments, or guidance to help you improve your draft.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of peer review, types of peer review, the peer review process, providing feedback to your peers, peer review example, advantages of peer review, criticisms of peer review, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about peer reviews.

Many academic fields use peer review, largely to determine whether a manuscript is suitable for publication. Peer review enhances the credibility of the manuscript. For this reason, academic journals are among the most credible sources you can refer to.

However, peer review is also common in non-academic settings. The United Nations, the European Union, and many individual nations use peer review to evaluate grant applications. It is also widely used in medical and health-related fields as a teaching or quality-of-care measure.

Peer assessment is often used in the classroom as a pedagogical tool. Both receiving feedback and providing it are thought to enhance the learning process, helping students think critically and collaboratively.

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Depending on the journal, there are several types of peer review.

Single-blind peer review

The most common type of peer review is single-blind (or single anonymized) review . Here, the names of the reviewers are not known by the author.

While this gives the reviewers the ability to give feedback without the possibility of interference from the author, there has been substantial criticism of this method in the last few years. Many argue that single-blind reviewing can lead to poaching or intellectual theft or that anonymized comments cause reviewers to be too harsh.

Double-blind peer review

In double-blind (or double anonymized) review , both the author and the reviewers are anonymous.

Arguments for double-blind review highlight that this mitigates any risk of prejudice on the side of the reviewer, while protecting the nature of the process. In theory, it also leads to manuscripts being published on merit rather than on the reputation of the author.

Triple-blind peer review

While triple-blind (or triple anonymized) review —where the identities of the author, reviewers, and editors are all anonymized—does exist, it is difficult to carry out in practice.

Proponents of adopting triple-blind review for journal submissions argue that it minimizes potential conflicts of interest and biases. However, ensuring anonymity is logistically challenging, and current editing software is not always able to fully anonymize everyone involved in the process.

In collaborative review , authors and reviewers interact with each other directly throughout the process. However, the identity of the reviewer is not known to the author. This gives all parties the opportunity to resolve any inconsistencies or contradictions in real time, and provides them a rich forum for discussion. It can mitigate the need for multiple rounds of editing and minimize back-and-forth.

Collaborative review can be time- and resource-intensive for the journal, however. For these collaborations to occur, there has to be a set system in place, often a technological platform, with staff monitoring and fixing any bugs or glitches.

Lastly, in open review , all parties know each other’s identities throughout the process. Often, open review can also include feedback from a larger audience, such as an online forum, or reviewer feedback included as part of the final published product.

While many argue that greater transparency prevents plagiarism or unnecessary harshness, there is also concern about the quality of future scholarship if reviewers feel they have to censor their comments.

In general, the peer review process includes the following steps:

  • First, the author submits the manuscript to the editor.
  • Reject the manuscript and send it back to the author, or
  • Send it onward to the selected peer reviewer(s)
  • Next, the peer review process occurs. The reviewer provides feedback, addressing any major or minor issues with the manuscript, and gives their advice regarding what edits should be made.
  • Lastly, the edited manuscript is sent back to the author. They input the edits and resubmit it to the editor for publication.

The peer review process

In an effort to be transparent, many journals are now disclosing who reviewed each article in the published product. There are also increasing opportunities for collaboration and feedback, with some journals allowing open communication between reviewers and authors.

It can seem daunting at first to conduct a peer review or peer assessment. If you’re not sure where to start, there are several best practices you can use.

Summarize the argument in your own words

Summarizing the main argument helps the author see how their argument is interpreted by readers, and gives you a jumping-off point for providing feedback. If you’re having trouble doing this, it’s a sign that the argument needs to be clearer, more concise, or worded differently.

If the author sees that you’ve interpreted their argument differently than they intended, they have an opportunity to address any misunderstandings when they get the manuscript back.

Separate your feedback into major and minor issues

It can be challenging to keep feedback organized. One strategy is to start out with any major issues and then flow into the more minor points. It’s often helpful to keep your feedback in a numbered list, so the author has concrete points to refer back to.

Major issues typically consist of any problems with the style, flow, or key points of the manuscript. Minor issues include spelling errors, citation errors, or other smaller, easy-to-apply feedback.

Tip: Try not to focus too much on the minor issues. If the manuscript has a lot of typos, consider making a note that the author should address spelling and grammar issues, rather than going through and fixing each one.

The best feedback you can provide is anything that helps them strengthen their argument or resolve major stylistic issues.

Give the type of feedback that you would like to receive

No one likes being criticized, and it can be difficult to give honest feedback without sounding overly harsh or critical. One strategy you can use here is the “compliment sandwich,” where you “sandwich” your constructive criticism between two compliments.

Be sure you are giving concrete, actionable feedback that will help the author submit a successful final draft. While you shouldn’t tell them exactly what they should do, your feedback should help them resolve any issues they may have overlooked.

As a rule of thumb, your feedback should be:

  • Easy to understand
  • Constructive

Below is a brief annotated research example. You can view examples of peer feedback by hovering over the highlighted sections.

Influence of phone use on sleep

Studies show that teens from the US are getting less sleep than they were a decade ago (Johnson, 2019) . On average, teens only slept for 6 hours a night in 2021, compared to 8 hours a night in 2011. Johnson mentions several potential causes, such as increased anxiety, changed diets, and increased phone use.

The current study focuses on the effect phone use before bedtime has on the number of hours of sleep teens are getting.

For this study, a sample of 300 teens was recruited using social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The first week, all teens were allowed to use their phone the way they normally would, in order to obtain a baseline.

The sample was then divided into 3 groups:

  • Group 1 was not allowed to use their phone before bedtime.
  • Group 2 used their phone for 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Group 3 used their phone for 3 hours before bedtime.

All participants were asked to go to sleep around 10 p.m. to control for variation in bedtime . In the morning, their Fitbit showed the number of hours they’d slept. They kept track of these numbers themselves for 1 week.

Two independent t tests were used in order to compare Group 1 and Group 2, and Group 1 and Group 3. The first t test showed no significant difference ( p > .05) between the number of hours for Group 1 ( M = 7.8, SD = 0.6) and Group 2 ( M = 7.0, SD = 0.8). The second t test showed a significant difference ( p < .01) between the average difference for Group 1 ( M = 7.8, SD = 0.6) and Group 3 ( M = 6.1, SD = 1.5).

This shows that teens sleep fewer hours a night if they use their phone for over an hour before bedtime, compared to teens who use their phone for 0 to 1 hours.

Peer review is an established and hallowed process in academia, dating back hundreds of years. It provides various fields of study with metrics, expectations, and guidance to ensure published work is consistent with predetermined standards.

  • Protects the quality of published research

Peer review can stop obviously problematic, falsified, or otherwise untrustworthy research from being published. Any content that raises red flags for reviewers can be closely examined in the review stage, preventing plagiarized or duplicated research from being published.

  • Gives you access to feedback from experts in your field

Peer review represents an excellent opportunity to get feedback from renowned experts in your field and to improve your writing through their feedback and guidance. Experts with knowledge about your subject matter can give you feedback on both style and content, and they may also suggest avenues for further research that you hadn’t yet considered.

  • Helps you identify any weaknesses in your argument

Peer review acts as a first defense, helping you ensure your argument is clear and that there are no gaps, vague terms, or unanswered questions for readers who weren’t involved in the research process. This way, you’ll end up with a more robust, more cohesive article.

While peer review is a widely accepted metric for credibility, it’s not without its drawbacks.

  • Reviewer bias

The more transparent double-blind system is not yet very common, which can lead to bias in reviewing. A common criticism is that an excellent paper by a new researcher may be declined, while an objectively lower-quality submission by an established researcher would be accepted.

  • Delays in publication

The thoroughness of the peer review process can lead to significant delays in publishing time. Research that was current at the time of submission may not be as current by the time it’s published. There is also high risk of publication bias , where journals are more likely to publish studies with positive findings than studies with negative findings.

  • Risk of human error

By its very nature, peer review carries a risk of human error. In particular, falsification often cannot be detected, given that reviewers would have to replicate entire experiments to ensure the validity of results.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Chi square tests
  • Confidence interval
  • Quartiles & Quantiles
  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Thematic analysis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Cohort study
  • Ethnography

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Conformity bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Availability heuristic
  • Attrition bias
  • Social desirability bias

Peer review is a process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Utilizing rigorous criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decide whether to accept each submission for publication. For this reason, academic journals are often considered among the most credible sources you can use in a research project– provided that the journal itself is trustworthy and well-regarded.

In general, the peer review process follows the following steps: 

  • Reject the manuscript and send it back to author, or 
  • Send it onward to the selected peer reviewer(s) 
  • Next, the peer review process occurs. The reviewer provides feedback, addressing any major or minor issues with the manuscript, and gives their advice regarding what edits should be made. 
  • Lastly, the edited manuscript is sent back to the author. They input the edits, and resubmit it to the editor for publication.

Peer review can stop obviously problematic, falsified, or otherwise untrustworthy research from being published. It also represents an excellent opportunity to get feedback from renowned experts in your field. It acts as a first defense, helping you ensure your argument is clear and that there are no gaps, vague terms, or unanswered questions for readers who weren’t involved in the research process.

Peer-reviewed articles are considered a highly credible source due to this stringent process they go through before publication.

Many academic fields use peer review , largely to determine whether a manuscript is suitable for publication. Peer review enhances the credibility of the published manuscript.

However, peer review is also common in non-academic settings. The United Nations, the European Union, and many individual nations use peer review to evaluate grant applications. It is also widely used in medical and health-related fields as a teaching or quality-of-care measure. 

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

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What Is Peer Review? | Types & Examples

Published on 6 May 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on 2 September 2022.

Peer review, sometimes referred to as refereeing , is the process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Using strict criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decides whether to accept each submission for publication.

Peer-reviewed articles are considered a highly credible source due to the stringent process they go through before publication.

There are various types of peer review. The main difference between them is to what extent the authors, reviewers, and editors know each other’s identities. The most common types are:

  • Single-blind review
  • Double-blind review
  • Triple-blind review

Collaborative review

Open review.

Relatedly, peer assessment is a process where your peers provide you with feedback on something you’ve written, based on a set of criteria or benchmarks from an instructor. They then give constructive feedback, compliments, or guidance to help you improve your draft.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of peer review, types of peer review, the peer review process, providing feedback to your peers, peer review example, advantages of peer review, criticisms of peer review, frequently asked questions about peer review.

Many academic fields use peer review, largely to determine whether a manuscript is suitable for publication. Peer review enhances the credibility of the manuscript. For this reason, academic journals are among the most credible sources you can refer to.

However, peer review is also common in non-academic settings. The United Nations, the European Union, and many individual nations use peer review to evaluate grant applications. It is also widely used in medical and health-related fields as a teaching or quality-of-care measure.

Peer assessment is often used in the classroom as a pedagogical tool. Both receiving feedback and providing it are thought to enhance the learning process, helping students think critically and collaboratively.

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Depending on the journal, there are several types of peer review.

Single-blind peer review

The most common type of peer review is single-blind (or single anonymised) review . Here, the names of the reviewers are not known by the author.

While this gives the reviewers the ability to give feedback without the possibility of interference from the author, there has been substantial criticism of this method in the last few years. Many argue that single-blind reviewing can lead to poaching or intellectual theft or that anonymised comments cause reviewers to be too harsh.

Double-blind peer review

In double-blind (or double anonymised) review , both the author and the reviewers are anonymous.

Arguments for double-blind review highlight that this mitigates any risk of prejudice on the side of the reviewer, while protecting the nature of the process. In theory, it also leads to manuscripts being published on merit rather than on the reputation of the author.

Triple-blind peer review

While triple-blind (or triple anonymised) review – where the identities of the author, reviewers, and editors are all anonymised – does exist, it is difficult to carry out in practice.

Proponents of adopting triple-blind review for journal submissions argue that it minimises potential conflicts of interest and biases. However, ensuring anonymity is logistically challenging, and current editing software is not always able to fully anonymise everyone involved in the process.

In collaborative review , authors and reviewers interact with each other directly throughout the process. However, the identity of the reviewer is not known to the author. This gives all parties the opportunity to resolve any inconsistencies or contradictions in real time, and provides them a rich forum for discussion. It can mitigate the need for multiple rounds of editing and minimise back-and-forth.

Collaborative review can be time- and resource-intensive for the journal, however. For these collaborations to occur, there has to be a set system in place, often a technological platform, with staff monitoring and fixing any bugs or glitches.

Lastly, in open review , all parties know each other’s identities throughout the process. Often, open review can also include feedback from a larger audience, such as an online forum, or reviewer feedback included as part of the final published product.

While many argue that greater transparency prevents plagiarism or unnecessary harshness, there is also concern about the quality of future scholarship if reviewers feel they have to censor their comments.

In general, the peer review process includes the following steps:

  • First, the author submits the manuscript to the editor.
  • Reject the manuscript and send it back to the author, or
  • Send it onward to the selected peer reviewer(s)
  • Next, the peer review process occurs. The reviewer provides feedback, addressing any major or minor issues with the manuscript, and gives their advice regarding what edits should be made.
  • Lastly, the edited manuscript is sent back to the author. They input the edits and resubmit it to the editor for publication.

The peer review process

In an effort to be transparent, many journals are now disclosing who reviewed each article in the published product. There are also increasing opportunities for collaboration and feedback, with some journals allowing open communication between reviewers and authors.

It can seem daunting at first to conduct a peer review or peer assessment. If you’re not sure where to start, there are several best practices you can use.

Summarise the argument in your own words

Summarising the main argument helps the author see how their argument is interpreted by readers, and gives you a jumping-off point for providing feedback. If you’re having trouble doing this, it’s a sign that the argument needs to be clearer, more concise, or worded differently.

If the author sees that you’ve interpreted their argument differently than they intended, they have an opportunity to address any misunderstandings when they get the manuscript back.

Separate your feedback into major and minor issues

It can be challenging to keep feedback organised. One strategy is to start out with any major issues and then flow into the more minor points. It’s often helpful to keep your feedback in a numbered list, so the author has concrete points to refer back to.

Major issues typically consist of any problems with the style, flow, or key points of the manuscript. Minor issues include spelling errors, citation errors, or other smaller, easy-to-apply feedback.

The best feedback you can provide is anything that helps them strengthen their argument or resolve major stylistic issues.

Give the type of feedback that you would like to receive

No one likes being criticised, and it can be difficult to give honest feedback without sounding overly harsh or critical. One strategy you can use here is the ‘compliment sandwich’, where you ‘sandwich’ your constructive criticism between two compliments.

Be sure you are giving concrete, actionable feedback that will help the author submit a successful final draft. While you shouldn’t tell them exactly what they should do, your feedback should help them resolve any issues they may have overlooked.

As a rule of thumb, your feedback should be:

  • Easy to understand
  • Constructive

Below is a brief annotated research example. You can view examples of peer feedback by hovering over the highlighted sections.

Influence of phone use on sleep

Studies show that teens from the US are getting less sleep than they were a decade ago (Johnson, 2019) . On average, teens only slept for 6 hours a night in 2021, compared to 8 hours a night in 2011. Johnson mentions several potential causes, such as increased anxiety, changed diets, and increased phone use.

The current study focuses on the effect phone use before bedtime has on the number of hours of sleep teens are getting.

For this study, a sample of 300 teens was recruited using social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The first week, all teens were allowed to use their phone the way they normally would, in order to obtain a baseline.

The sample was then divided into 3 groups:

  • Group 1 was not allowed to use their phone before bedtime.
  • Group 2 used their phone for 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Group 3 used their phone for 3 hours before bedtime.

All participants were asked to go to sleep around 10 p.m. to control for variation in bedtime . In the morning, their Fitbit showed the number of hours they’d slept. They kept track of these numbers themselves for 1 week.

Two independent t tests were used in order to compare Group 1 and Group 2, and Group 1 and Group 3. The first t test showed no significant difference ( p > .05) between the number of hours for Group 1 ( M = 7.8, SD = 0.6) and Group 2 ( M = 7.0, SD = 0.8). The second t test showed a significant difference ( p < .01) between the average difference for Group 1 ( M = 7.8, SD = 0.6) and Group 3 ( M = 6.1, SD = 1.5).

This shows that teens sleep fewer hours a night if they use their phone for over an hour before bedtime, compared to teens who use their phone for 0 to 1 hours.

Peer review is an established and hallowed process in academia, dating back hundreds of years. It provides various fields of study with metrics, expectations, and guidance to ensure published work is consistent with predetermined standards.

  • Protects the quality of published research

Peer review can stop obviously problematic, falsified, or otherwise untrustworthy research from being published. Any content that raises red flags for reviewers can be closely examined in the review stage, preventing plagiarised or duplicated research from being published.

  • Gives you access to feedback from experts in your field

Peer review represents an excellent opportunity to get feedback from renowned experts in your field and to improve your writing through their feedback and guidance. Experts with knowledge about your subject matter can give you feedback on both style and content, and they may also suggest avenues for further research that you hadn’t yet considered.

  • Helps you identify any weaknesses in your argument

Peer review acts as a first defence, helping you ensure your argument is clear and that there are no gaps, vague terms, or unanswered questions for readers who weren’t involved in the research process. This way, you’ll end up with a more robust, more cohesive article.

While peer review is a widely accepted metric for credibility, it’s not without its drawbacks.

  • Reviewer bias

The more transparent double-blind system is not yet very common, which can lead to bias in reviewing. A common criticism is that an excellent paper by a new researcher may be declined, while an objectively lower-quality submission by an established researcher would be accepted.

  • Delays in publication

The thoroughness of the peer review process can lead to significant delays in publishing time. Research that was current at the time of submission may not be as current by the time it’s published.

  • Risk of human error

By its very nature, peer review carries a risk of human error. In particular, falsification often cannot be detected, given that reviewers would have to replicate entire experiments to ensure the validity of results.

Peer review is a process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Utilising rigorous criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decide whether to accept each submission for publication.

For this reason, academic journals are often considered among the most credible sources you can use in a research project – provided that the journal itself is trustworthy and well regarded.

Peer review can stop obviously problematic, falsified, or otherwise untrustworthy research from being published. It also represents an excellent opportunity to get feedback from renowned experts in your field.

It acts as a first defence, helping you ensure your argument is clear and that there are no gaps, vague terms, or unanswered questions for readers who weren’t involved in the research process.

Peer-reviewed articles are considered a highly credible source due to this stringent process they go through before publication.

In general, the peer review process follows the following steps:

  • Reject the manuscript and send it back to author, or
  • Lastly, the edited manuscript is sent back to the author. They input the edits, and resubmit it to the editor for publication.

Many academic fields use peer review , largely to determine whether a manuscript is suitable for publication. Peer review enhances the credibility of the published manuscript.

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George, T. (2022, September 02). What Is Peer Review? | Types & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 2 January 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/research-methods/peer-reviews/

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  24. [QA] What Is Peer Review?

    Peer review, sometimes referred to as refereeing, is the process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Using strict criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decides whether to accept each submission for publication. Peer-reviewed articles are considered a highly credible source due to the stringent process they go ...

  25. What Is Peer Review?

    Peer review, sometimes referred to as refereeing, is the process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Using strict criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decides whether to accept each submission for publication.