Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mod2 Peer Review Session... in Review

Mod2 Peer Review Session... In Review
So in lieu of our most recent module report, I decided to organize a peer review session. Now, for every one of my lab classes, the instructors have always recommended that we do peer editing. I decided, once and for all, to go ahead and try it out.
The Sunday before our illustrious mod2 reports were due, about 10 (mostly hungry) 109'ers convened in 16-220 to edit our papers. I was able to entice them with the promise of pizza as most of them wouldn't leave the office hours without it. After getting our Italian fix, everyone swapped hard copies of their reports with another person. Upon the instructors' recommendation, we only looked over the abstract, introduction and methods sections. We exchanged and commented directly on the reports and had one-on-one discussions with the other person when we were finished.  I personally received some really good insights on how to change my paper. Hopefully the instructors will agree as well.

What I would keep:
Limit the scope
First of all, I actually thought that it was nice that we had a limited scope and only edited the abstract, introduction and methods. Although this policy was first implemented for a different reason, the papers were really long and it would have taken too much time to read over the entire paper. Ideally, it would have been nice to instead look over the abstract, introduction and discussion as these are arguably the most important sections of a paper. And by that, I mean the sections that are the most heavily scrutinized by readers.

EC on /r/freefood
Yes, now I understand why MIT has so many free food events. It seems hard to convince students to come for expanding their intellectual curiosity otherwise! I received messages from a couple people asking me to inform them, not when others arrived, but rather when the pizza came. Don't get me wrong, any good excuse to order pizza is a fine one with me.

Individual attention
I found it very beneficial to look over each other's papers individually. When looking over my edits, it was interesting to see what areas people focused on. Some people preferred editing the grammar and the flow of sentences while others were better at scrutinizing the overall structure. Let me add that having multiple people edit the paper rather than just one was better.

Good atmosphere
Thank you to everyone that came and helped make the atmosphere really relaxing and calm. Despite being the night before the lab report was due, people were still able to focus and suggest good edits while being friendly with each other and having a nice laugh.

What I would change:
These are mostly administrative issues that I would change if I hosted another one of these.

Say No to Otto's
"Flat, sharp, roof-of-your-mouth-cutting pizza"-Arinze
Yeah the pizza wasn't that good in my opinion. I know this isn't supposed to be a Yelp article but Arinze was spot on with his analysis: "flat, sharp, roof-of-your-mouth-cutting pizza". Also, after eating a couple of slices I felt like I was sweating grease. Sorry Maine, your pizza ain't the best.

Organize it earlier
Although I received alot of good insight, I was so tired by the end of the peer editing session that it was hard to implement all of those changes. It would be beneficial to organize the peer editing session a bit earlier as it would be difficult to make any necessary sweeping changes and some people were reluctant to come as they needed the night to work on their lab report... Also, the night before the Boston Marathon wasn't the best idea!

Careful about Editing Style
Maybe this was just my problem but I found that I was taking an inordinate amount of time to edit each paper. Over the course of 3 hours. I think that I might have gone through 3 papers or so. Don't get me wrong, it is hard work and good for the other person to give deep and insightful feedback. Looking back, I thought that I was too hung up on grammar and specific word choice. Although this makes the paper sound better, it was probably better to focus on the content-heavy parts of the paper.

I want to thank the instructors for helping me organize this and for everyone who came! Also give a big thanks to Leslie when you next see her, she was a significant donor to the pizza fund. Hope that you enjoyed it and I would appreciate if you would comment what you did/did not like about it.

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