I’ve just posted a short video on some principles and practices for effective giving of feedback / peer review on academic writing.
It could be relevant to people working together in a writing group – perhaps providing a focus for discussion of your own principles and working rules for commenting on each other’s work.
It is also relevant to anyone who is involved in reviewing / refereeing for academic journals, where, let’s be honest, the feedback authors get isn’t always delivered in the most ethical, constructive and professional way :-0
I argue that effective feedback / reviewer comments can be understood as pedagogic in their effects – helping the writer develop the text and as a writer – rather than only judgemental.
To start I suggest thinking about the effects you want to have on the original author when you review someone’s work or give feedback on their writing. I then suggest some principles and practices that might help achieve certain effects. Important among these are (1) mirroring first (just saying what you think it is that the person is trying to achieve and what they are arguing); (2) being specific in praise and critique and giving reasons to explain your judgements; (3) being careful and sensitive with language, including avoidance of unnecessary emphasis, and use of more speculative phrasing where appropriate; (4) critiquing the text rather than the person; (5) being blatantly subjective – by which I mean writing in a way that acknowledges the review or feedback is the result of an interaction between the text and you (with your own values, history, knowledge, ignorance, privilege, preferences)… not an objective discovery of flaws in text, argument, research, or the scholar at the receiving end!