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

Influencing Policy: Peer Editing Guidelines

Work in pairs; try to work with someone you haven't worked with yet this quarter.
As you read and comment on each other's papers, keep in mind the purpose and audience of the paper (that is, to convince policy makers to support the author's point of view and to take some action in furtherance of that position).
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. If the author does not have a short outline, presenting the argument like a syllogism (i.e., listing each of the supporting points—the "premises"—and then the conclusion), ask him or her to prepare one. (This was part of the assignment.)

  2. Then read the outline—not the paper (yet)—and write the answers to these questions:

    1. What is the issue? What is the author's position--what does the author want the policy maker to do? Is the recipient the right person to take that action?

    2. Do the author's points actually support the conclusion? Are there missing points or hidden assumptions that the author didn't list?

    3. Are there flaws in the author's logic? That is, if you accept the premises, does the conclusion follow logically? If not, how would you correct the reasoning?

    4. If you disagree with the author's position, presumably it's because you don't accept his or her premises. Which ones don't you agree with?

    5. If you agree with the author's position, which of the premises will the author's opponents most likely disagree with?

  3. Now read the letter and write answers to these questions:

    1. Is the letter in standard business-letter format (without "139W" or a student ID)?

    2. Does it address an actual person? Does it address the right person (someone who can take the action the author is advocating)?

    3. Does it say what action the author wants the recipient to take, in the very first sentence? [This is almost always the right approach in this kind of letter; there needs to be a good reason to do it differently.]

    4. Does the organization of the letter match the organization of the outline? Where do they diverge?

    5. Does the prose in the letter accurately reflect each point in the outline?

    6. Does the prose in the letter adequately support each point in the outline? How well does the letter explain the basis for each point?

    7. How well does it anticipate possible objections?

    8. Does the author engage in emotionalism, name-calling, or other flaws of argumentation?

    9. Does it follow the appropriate tone, style, and form of address for a letter to a policy maker? Does it read more like an essay or a research report?

    10. Does it do the job? Are you convinced by the reasoning? What would make the case stronger? What needs to be improved before the author could actually send the letter?

  4. Review your comments with the author (and vice versa)