It is always better to have a second pair of eyes look at your document and review it before the document goes to the next stages. Hence, peer review plays a significant role in improving the quality of the document. It also improves team spirit as members of the team review each others’ document to enhance the overall quality of all the deliverables.
To peer review a document:
1. Perform the following preparation tasks:
a. Understand the basic purpose of the document or the topic
b. Learn more about the subject in context
c. Gather the content objectives from the writer
d. Ask the writer about the audience and their characteristics
e. Prepare brief notes on the basis of the above information that will help you in your peer review.
2. Prepare and use checklists of the following types or a combination of all the following:
a. Technical checklist – This should contain items about the technical aspects of the product. This checklist should be continuously updated to include the latest technical changes. Seek the help of the subject matter experts to prepare this checklist.
b. Language checklist – This should include the grammar items, punctuation items, style issues, and language usage items. It is advisable to have at least a few points that are specific to the writer. Use the writer’s previous edited documents to prepare this checklist.
c. Checklist of common errors – This can include the errors that members of the team made during the past releases. It should again be continuously updated to include all the latest errors, so as to eliminate them during this stage.
3. Read and review the draft multiple times to identify problem areas as indicated in any of the above checklists.
4. Avoid making comments and criticisms on writing styles. Highlight only glaring errors and try to read a sentence from a neutral point of view before providing comments. It is always advisable to read the document from an end user’s perspective to provide unbiased comments.
5. Explain your comments in detail. Provide all the relevant details. Wherever possible, provide a reference to a grammar topic or style guide issue.
6. Apart from providing comments, suggest a way to avoid the highlighted issue. This might help new writers in learning the nuances of writing.
7. Refrain from rewriting the draft. You must only suggest ideas to improve the draft and highlight errors. In a bid to rewrite certain sections of the document, you might change the tone of the document in various places by writing in your style.
8. Prepare a review summary that highlights the positive aspects of the draft first. Even before you skim through the draft for errors, you must identify and highlight the positive aspects of the draft in the areas of logical flow and grammar and mention them in your review memo.
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