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Space Weather Action Center

Methods and Techniques: Peer Review

Peer Review-A tool to improve effective science communication skills.


The goal of peer review is to provide a creator/presenter with productive critique in as gentle a manner as possible. It is important to the process that the creator/presenter is placed in the position of power and controls the process. To create an environment that supports this goal the following process is recommended.

The creator/presenter is accompanied by a "secretary" of her/his choice whose job it is to record the questions which will be asked by the reviewers.

The creator/presenter describes or reads the item to be critiqued (for example: the script for the space weather Broadcast) After the presentation of the material to be critiqued, the other students are only permitted to ask questions of the creator/presenter. This is the essence of the process. Questioning, though often difficult, opens discussions, using statements as if they were fact often leads to closing discussions.

The creator/presenter controls the flow of questions and the secretary records the questions.

In response to a question the creator/presenter has two options: 1) to answer the question directly or 2) to say something similar to "Interesting question. I'll have to think about that".

After the questioning session the secretary provides the creator/presenter with the list of questions for her/his later review.

Individuals or small groups of students may be the presenter(s). The process may be done with the entire class asking questions or with a small group (4-6 students) acting as reviewers. If a small group reviews, it is suggested that those students take responsibility for their review by having their names placed on the final document as "reviewed by".

Upon completion of the review process the creator/presenter may utilize or reject any ideas discovered during the review process. The acceptable ideas are then incorporated into the original document and a final draft is created.

The value of Peer Review in inquiry science

Some of the possible benefits of Peer Review for the CREATOR/PRESENTER:

  • There are more minds working collectively
  • The creator/presenter may gain clarification of her/his ideas
  • Discussion of the content and statistical validity may occur.
  • The accuracy of the document may be improved.
  • The authenticity of the scientific and technological research process is more closely achieved. *
  • There may be an increase in the creator/presenter's accountability for her/his work.
  • The creator/presenter may gain confidence.

Some of the possible benefits of Peer Review for the REVIEWERS:

  • Ideas may be expressed to the creator/presenter that is directly applicable to someone else's proposed broadcast
  • Discussion of content and statistical validity may occur.
  • Students may model good scientific processes for each other.
  • A reviewer's listening skills may be improved.
  • Class discussion may improve communication between class members.
  • Reviewers may be challenged to think beyond their own ideas.