Resources

Text Size

Peer Review
11.28.06
 
Guidelines
The goal of peer review is to provide a creator or presenter with productive critique in as gentle a manner as possible. It is important to the process that the creator or presenter is placed in the position of power and controls the process. To create an environment that supports this goal, the following process is recommended.

The creator or presenter is accompanied by a "secretary" of her or his choice whose job it is to record the questions that will be asked by the reviewers.

The creator or presenter describes or reads the item to be critiqued -- for example, a laboratory procedure for a proposed experiment.

After the presentation of the material to be critiqued, the other students are only permitted to ask questions of the creator or presenter. This is the essence of the process. This questioning, though often difficult, opens discussion while statements close the discussion.

The creator or presenter controls the flow of questions, and the secretary records the questions.

In response to a question, the creator or presenter has two options: 1) to answer the question directly or 2) to say something similar to "Interesting question. I'll have to think about that."

After the questioning session, the secretary provides the creator or presenter with the list of questions for later review.

Individuals or small groups of students may be the presenter. The process may be done with the entire class asking questions or with a small group (4-6 students) acting as reviewers. If a small group reviews, it is suggested that those students take responsibility for their review by having their names placed on the final document as "reviewed by."

Upon completion of the review process, the creator or presenter may use or reject any ideas discovered during the review process. The acceptable ideas are then incorporated into the original document, and a final draft is created.

The Value of Peer Review in Inquiry Science
Some of the possible benefits of peer review for the creator or presenter are listed below:
    --More minds work on the problem or question.
    --The creator or presenter may gain clarification of her or his ideas.
    --Discussion of experimental variables, experimental design, number of trials or subjects, and statistical validity may occur.
    --The accuracy of the document may be improved.
    --The authenticity of the scientific and technological research process is more closely achieved.
    --There may be an increase in the creator or presenter's accountability for her or his work.
    --The creator or presenter may gain confidence.
Some of the possible benefits of peer review for the reviewers are given below:
    --Ideas may be expressed to the creator or presenter that are directly applicable to someone else's proposed experiment.
    --Discussion of experimental variables, experimental design, number of trials or subjects, and statistical validity may occur.
    --Students may model good scientific processes for each other.
    --A reviewer's listening skills may improve.
    --Class discussion may improve communication between class members.
    --Reviewers may be challenged to think beyond their own ideas.
Many business organizations and scientific institutions employ peer review to ensure success. NASA, for example, implements peer reviews at many points in a project's development from early concept design and instrument selection to final design and testing.