StartupStockPhotos. Office Startup Business. 2014. Pixabay.com. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.
Step two: read through the paper
In your first reading of the paper, do not focus on searching for errors. Instead, just read through it. Depending on time restraints, you will read through it another time and look for mistakes. This first reading should be entirely focused on just seeing what the author is trying to say in the paper. You will mainly focus on the answer to the most important question in this process
Step Three: Does the paper respond to the prompt?
In this initial reading of the paper, only think about one thing: does this paper respond to the prompt or answer the question posed? During this stage, do not make any marks on the paper not relating to this. Focus entirely on reading and taking in everything on the page. This is the most important part of the peer editing process. If the paper does, in fact, respond to the prompt, you can move on and help the author to improve the paper in different ways. If it does not, return the essay to the author and let them know this. There is no point in searching for minuscule errors such as spelling mistakes when the entire paper is essentially incorrect already. You could write the most beautiful paper ever in a history class, but since it doesn't respond to a prompt in an English class, there would be no purpose in submitting it to that English professor, regardless of how well-written it is. In a paper asking to discuss symbolism in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it is better to turn in something like this
than something like this
The first paper may be a terribly written piece of garbage, but at least it actually responds to the prompt. This is definitely an extreme example, as no intelligent person would ever turn in the second paper in response to that prompt, but it is easy to lose track of your writing while working. Going off on too much of a tangent or misreading the prompt can easily lead to a paper not answer the questions that it should, regardless of how well crafted it is.
Step four: Reread the introduction
Now that you have confirmed that the paper does in fact respond to the prompt, it is time to begin the bulk of the actual editing. It's easiest to split the paper into three separate sections: the intro paragraph, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. During this step of the peer editing process, reread the intro paragraph. While reading it, begin to think about answering any specific questions the author had if any of them involve the introductory paragraph. The most important part of this paragraph is the thesis. Ask yourself, "where is the thesis?". Once you find it, it is important to check if the thesis describes the topic of the paper. This is something that you have already slightly began to do while checking if the paper responds to the prompt, but the thesis sentence is the most important sentence in the paper, so it is important to double check. Another important aspect of the intro paragraph that should be evaluated here is whether or not the first sentences grab the reader's attention. If it does not, it is important to note this. If it does, it can be helpful to the author to know this so let them know that they have a strong opening sentence. Keep in mind that due to any possible time restraints, you may not have time to get to less important details such as misspellings at this stage, so simply ignore them for now and focus on reviewing the more important parts of the paragraph.
Step 5: reread the body paragraphs
Now that you have looked over the intro paragraph, it is time to move on to the second and biggest section of the paper: the body paragraphs. This is where most people begin when peer editing incorrectly. Instead of reading the whole paper and thinking about it before editing it, they instead just dive right into it without much thought. This step is similar to the last one as you will mainly just be reading through these paragraphs and checking to make sure that the arguments presented agree with the thesis. This is where most marking on the paper will be done, as well, due to most of the information of the paper being located in this section. The main purpose of the body paragraphs is to present evidence that supports the thesis. Because of this, it is essential to evaluate each and every single piece of evidence the author presents and judge how much it supports the thesis. The most important thing to remember when peer editing is that you are helping another student out. If they have any specific questions, it is vital that you answer them. It is also important to remember that the only thing your peer wants from you is help improving their essay. It is nice to leave comments praising things that they have done well, but they would much rather you leave comments suggesting alternatives to things they have said or correcting their mistakes. After judging if the body paragraphs support the thesis and answering any potential questions, read over the transitions from paragraph to paragraph and make sure that they flow well, noting as many constructive and polite criticisms as possible. Do not make rude comments about mistakes, but instead helpful suggestions on how to improve something. Your peer will get a lot more out of polite comments with ideas to fix mistakes like this