Spring 2013 — UC Irvine — Information & Computer Science — ICS 139W — David 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
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.
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.)
Then read the outline—not the paper (yet)—and
write the answers to these questions:
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?
Do the author's points actually support
the conclusion? Are there missing points or hidden assumptions that the
author didn't list?
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?
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?
If you agree with the author's position,
which of the premises will the author's opponents most likely disagree
Now read the letter and write answers to these
- Is the letter in standard business-letter format (without "139W" or a student ID)?
- Does it address an actual person? Does it address the right person (someone who can take the action the author is advocating)?
- 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.]
Does the organization of the letter match
the organization of the outline? Where do they diverge?
Does the prose in the letter accurately reflect
each point in the outline?
Does the prose in the letter adequately support
each point in the outline? How well does the letter explain the basis for
How well does it anticipate possible objections?
Does the author engage in emotionalism, name-calling,
or other flaws of argumentation?
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?
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?
Review your comments with the author (and