Peer Review & Author Letters

Description: An author letter provides feedback to an author’s in-progress (but hopefully nearly completed) work. The job of peer reviewers is (1) to read a text in relation to the values of a particular publication venue, the venue’s audience, and the disciplinary conversations the audience/venue espouses, and (2) to provide constructive feedback to an author based on the text’s effectiveness at reaching those values. The job of the editor is to collate the peer reviews and turn that into useful formative feedback for an author through the genre of a letter (or email).


  • to learn more about the genre of “peer reviews” and “author letters” in a scholarly publication setting
  • to analyze the genre and convention expectations for Kairos webtexts so that you can use that criteria as formative assessment tools
  • to practice addressing your analysis to a specific audience (an author, with a secondary audience of editorial board members)

Due Date:

  • beginning of class on Tuesday, September 30. Upload to eCampus groups location. Use the file name “peer-review-FirstNameLastName” as a .doc or .docx.

Instructions: Your role in this assignment is to function as an Editor of Kairos, to cull the peer review feedback the “editorial board” (e.g., classmates) provided on the text earlier in the semester, and to help the author revise his webtext.

  1. Situate yourself within the venue. Using the knowledge we’ve gained through in-class discussions, homework assignments, readings in Kairos, and the in-class discussions we’ve had on this webtext (and Kairos) already, you should have a somewhat clear sense about Kairos’s mission, vision, and the kind of work it’s looking to publish.  You may need to re-read the submission guidelines in relation to those values.
  2. Re-read/review the submission. Using the peer-reviews and comprehensive (T1) review notes from our previous class sessions (including those six bullet points we talked about), figure out the main points of feedback/revision that you want to address and begin to summarize your thoughts in a way that encapsulates the majority consensus on the revision suggestions. Be sure to note when or whether there are any outlier ideas that may also be useful to the author. In other words: when is a lack of consensus useful to the author and the journal’s readers?
  3. Write the review letter. Write a 1-2(ish) page, single-spaced letter that will be given to the authors. Discuss how the piece meets (or doesn’t meet) the journal’s submission criteria and values. The letter should be addressed to the author, should be more formal than colloquial, and should contain feedback that is constructive and revisionary, if you have any (and you should have *some* revision suggestions).

Suggestions for drafting the letter:

  1. The beginning paragraph of the letter often summarizes the submission’s purpose back to the author, to ensure that you understood the piece and evaluated it with the criteria/venue in mind.
  2. Remember that the author of the publication is your audience but that other editors often will see your letter later in the process. The language should be helpful and respectful to all parties.
  3. Make sure that your revision suggestions are clear.
  4. This assignment requires you to take on a genre you may have never written before. It is not a literary or rhetorical analysis; it analyzes a still-tentative text and offers the author insight into how readers will interpret it in the specific context of the journal as well as insight into how to make the piece better fit that context through developmental/global revision suggestions.
  5. Do not attend to grammar or copy-editing issues unless the piece is so overwhelmingly poorly written that you cannot parse it.



For Part 2 of this assignment, each of you will serve as a mentoring editor to your co-editors in your small group. The goals of this part of the assignment are to have to continue to practice peer-reviewing and to better understand the genres of peer-review letters.

(1) Go read the new homework piece called “Adapting Editorial Peer Review” that I’ve linked from the syllabus schedule. That piece describes how I have done this assignment in a class where students composed webtexts, so it will give you a sense of how I want you to approach your reviews as editorial board members (which ideally you would already have). Reading this assignment will also give you some insight into how I want you to respond to each others’ work (and some pitfalls co-editors can sometimes engage in, like writing literary analyses on accident).

(2) Based on your own understanding of the genre conventions of the peer-review letter and the reading you’ve just completed, download all of your co-editors’ (in your small group) letters, and peer review them, using Microsoft Word’s Comment features to make suggestions. (Google how to use the Comment features if you aren’t sure.)

(3) Change the filename of each piece you review to ADD a “-yourinitials” at the end and upload it back to the group’s filesharing area. These are due by the end of class Thursday. (I’m giving you an extra hour-and-a-half to work on this, in case you can/want to use our normal f2f class time to review these, although it may take you longer than that.)



The goal of this assignment is to practice revising based on peer-review and to become metacognitively aware of your writing and revision processes when it comes to the genre of author letters and their evaluative techniques.

(1) As the author of one of those letters, you should download all the feedback you have gotten from your co-editors, review it, and create a revision strategy (you will need to post this later, but we will also talk about it in class on Tuesday). One way to think about a revision strategy is through consensus: How many of your co-editors suggest the same or similar edit? Then it probably needs to be done, etc. Does one of your co-editors suggest an edit that is radically different from the others but also seems to be a really good point? If so, do it. etc. Keep track of which revisions you complete and which you decide do not need to be undertaken.

(2) Name your revised peer review letter “reviewletter_Firstname-Lastname-REV” where REV stands for “revised”, and upload it to the whole-class “Revising Your Author Letter” discussion forum, along with the document you will complete for instruction #3 below.

(3) Read the article I posted to the syllabus schedule called “Assessing Scholarly Multimedia.” Based on the process for creating evaluation criteria from that article, create your own shortlist of evaluative criteria that you used in your author letter. In other words, using WHAT measures did you evaluate Corbett’s webtext? What were the key themes that you focused on in his review? Remember from the reading: these aren’t the same as the specific revision suggestions you provided. Instead, here I want you to focus on the meta issues you addressed. [This is a new assignment for me, so just give this a shot and we will discuss it more in class.]

(4) Using the meta evaluative criteria you created in Step 3 above, please annotate your revised author letter (using the annotation instructions from the “Adapting Editorial Peer Review” article you would have read for last Thursday’s class). Save this version of your editorial letter as a NEW copy, with the filename “annotated-Firstname-Lastname” and upload WITH your revised letter to the eCampus discussion forum on “Revising your Author Letter.”

(5) Follow the instructions on that discussion forum for providing a short discussion to this revision and reflection process. Due by the start of class on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

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