Giving feedback on writing: some questions to ask

Today I’ve been giving feedback on various forms of writing: extracts from a teaching portfolio, a journal article, and the first 2 chapters of a Masters thesis. While there are criteria that I check each of these pieces of writing against, I thought these questions that I came by from my colleague Dr Pip Ferguson, (I’m not sure of the original author… if anyone recognises the original source please let me know). Nonetheless, I found these questions really helpful in giving feedback on writing so I’m publishing them here online for others and for my own future reference. Writers, supervisors, and reviewers might find them useful.

Step 1: Before reading the draft, ask the author

  • Where are you at now with this work, and what do you need the most help with?
  • Why did you pick this topic or question in the first place?
  • What do you most want people to remember after reading your work?
  • What is the most interesting thing you’ve found out so far?
  • What is the most challenging aspect of writing this paper right now?

Step 2: While reading the draft, ask yourself

  • Who is the apparent target audience?
  • What is the knowledge gap? (Relevance)
  • What is the research question?
  • What is the main claim (thesis statement)? (try defining each part)
  • What evidence have they produced (findings)?
  • What is the method or analytical framework?
  • What role does theory play in this work? (Is author primarily contributing to theoretical development, or using existing theory to interpret data?)
  • Which terms need to be defined or operationalized?
  • What do you, the reader, find most interesting about the draft?
  • What do you, the reader, expect to be most problematic for the author?
  • Titles and headings: Do they fairly represent the content?
  • Tables and figures: Read them out loud

Step 3: Meet with the author

Go through questions above with the author, and listen to how they explain the work. Look for differences between what the author says and what you thought when you read the work. (For examples, was your understanding of the underlying research question the same as the author’s?). Discuss these differences, or any other questions you had as a reader.

Step 4: plan next step

Ask author what they intend to do to follow up. Have the author write it down.

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About Muireann O'Keeffe

I am an educational developer currently working at DCU. I have a passion for researching and evaluating technology that can support and enhance learning. In the past I have taught on Masters programmes (Msc Applied elearning & Postgraduate Diploma in Third level Learning and Teaching) as well as Leadership development programmes.
This entry was posted in feedback, MSc, questions, teaching, writing, writingsupport and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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