Essay Analysis







Write thoughts that come into your head as you read the paper. Examples include things like “this is a good
point,” “you need a smoother transition here,” “this point isn’t clear,” “you need more evidence here,” etc.
Marginal comments are important because they show up exactly where the paper’s strength/weakness is
found. Act as if you are the teacher. Make sure your marginal comments are legible and clear. You may do this
in the manuscript and upload the pages with your peer review below or you may comment directly on their
electronic manuscript in Canvas.
Typed summary critique – upload this below AND share a copy with one of the authors of the Chapter
Take some time to write a thoughtful critical review of the chapter. Identify the chapter’s strengths and
weaknesses (not only the weaknesses). What is missing that would make it a better paper? What do the
authors spend too much time on? How could the chapter be better organized? Be very specific in both your
criticisms and your suggestions for improvement.
What should you say in your peer review?
Write down the problem the paper is addressing in your own words.
List at least two things you like about the paper.
Offer a constructive criticism of the essay. You should ask yourself the following questions (but you are not
limited to these):
Do the writers clearly establish the problem the policy analysis will address?
Is it clear to whom this problem is important and why?
Do the authors make clear the current status of the problem?
Do the authors present a clear history of the problem?
Is the description at any point weak or unclear?
Does the chapter raise questions it doesn’t answer?
Is there anything you don’t understand?
Are there unsupported claims made that need to be supported by reference to some literature?
Are there tangential issues the authors get caught up in? (Do NOT use the above questions as a checklist.
These are just questions to ask yourself as you read the manuscript to help identify weaknesses. In this
section, you should describe as many weaknesses as possible. If they do some of the things described in
these questions particularly well, those answers can go in Section #2 above)
Offer suggestions for improvement. You must offer at least two concrete suggestions for improving one or more
of the weaknesses you outlined above..
The emphasis here is on specific changes that might benefit the paper. That is, try to focus not only on what is
wrong but on what might be done to fix it.
The more precise your suggestions are the better. References to specific papers or other resources you know
are especially useful.
These suggestions do not need to be in a separate section from the criticisms. On the contrary, they are
probably more effective if you group the suggestions with the criticisms they address


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