Spring 2013 — UC IrvineInformation & Computer ScienceICS 139WDavid G. Kay

Changing the System: Peer Editing Guidelines for the Change Proposal

You will edit your assignments in groups of two or three. It doesn't matter whether you work with the same people you worked with last time. Take a couple of minutes to identify each other. We will help form groups if necessary.
As you read and comment on each other's papers, keep in mind the purpose and audience of the paper (that is, to convince decision-makers to support the proposed changes).
On the editor's written comments, the editor should be sure to write "Edited by" and his or her name. Each author must turn in the editor's written comments along with the revised version of the paper.

  1. Before reading the paper, talk to the author and get clear answers to the questions below; then answer the same questions for the person editing your paper.

    1. Who is the intended audience? Corporate executives, project managers, technical people? Who actually makes decisions about changing this product?

    2. How much does the audience understand about the software already? Have they used it? Do they know what its advantages and shortcomings are? In other words, what background does the author assume (and thus not have to address explicitly in the proposal)?

    3. Does the author expect the audience to be receptive to the proposal, neutral, or hostile towards it? What does the author estimate the chances are of approval?

  2. Read your classmate's paper once through without making any comments. Then, write down briefly your first impressions:

    1. Do mechanical errors get in the way of reading it?

    2. Is it well organized and easy to follow?

    3. Does it do the job? If you were the decision-maker, would you spend money on this proposal (given that you have many other good things to spend the money on)?

  3. Read it again, more carefully, making comments in the margins. Focus your comments on the organization and content; don't spend much time proofreading for spelling or grammatical errors (which the author should have cleaned up already).

  4. Write down brief answers to these questions:

    1. Does the author give the decision-makers the right level of information? Is too much (or to little) assumed?

    2. How is the paper organized? Can you draw a clear outline or flowchart?

      1. Does the opening paragraph make the reader want to read more?

      2. Do the paragraphs follow one another to build a convincing argument?

      3. Is there any place where a concept is mentioned that isn't explained until later in the document?

      4. Does the closing paragraph summarize the reasons for making the change?

    3. Does the author make a convincing case? What else would help persuade the decision-maker?

  5. Review the author's slides, making written comments on these issues:

    1. Content and Organization

      1. Do the slides "walk the reader through" the main points of the proposal? Are there major points of the proposal that are not reflected in the slides? Do they seem to be paced well through the whole presentation?

      2. Is each slide adequately identified, for example with a title, so that its place in the presentation is clear?

      3. If a slide uses bullet points, is parallelism observed?

      4. Is the wording crisp, clear, and concise?

    2. Design

      1. Are the slides too crowded or too sparse?

      2. Are they easy to read at a glance, from a distance? (Is there too much text? Are the graphics too small?)

      3. Does every pixel pay its way?

        1. Does the color, if used, convey better information than monochrome or gray-scale?

        2. If a background pattern is used, does it interfere with reading the foreground?

        3. If there are graphics or screen shots, do they help make the point effectively? Can the back row of the audience read the important parts of these illustrations?

        4. If the author plans to use live, computer-based slides, does the "live-ness" add something that makes it worthwhile to use the technology? ("Dissolves" or "wipes" between otherwise static slides don't really justify taking the time and trouble.)

    3. Typography

      1. Is the type size appropriate?

      2. Are the other typography guidelines observed?

  6. Review your comments with the author (and vice versa). Be sure to put your name on your comments and give them to the author, who will submit them with his or her revised version. Also be sure to get your editor's written comments on your paper.