SUNY Geneseo Department of Mathematics

Peer Review Guidelines for “Gold Bug” Essay

Intd 105 20
Fall 2019
Prof. Doug Baldwin

Here are some suggestions to help you review each others’ draft essays on race and “The Gold Bug.” In addition to the ideas below, you can (and should) also use those in the “General Peer Review Guidelines” that we used with the warm-up essays.

Thesis and Argument

Since my expectations for this essay focus on the thesis statement and the argument that supports it, those are good things to concentrate on in your reviews. The exercise from “General Peer Review Guidelines” of paraphrasing the thesis statement from the essay you’re reviewing and then making sure through discussion that your paraphrase and the author’s intention are the same is still a good one.

In addition, once you identify a thesis in an essay you’re reading, stop and think for a minute about what arguments you would make for that thesis, or what concerns you would want addressed in order to accept it. Jot those ideas down. Then, as you read the rest of the essay, look to see if the author makes those arguments or addresses those concerns. Let them know if they did, and suggest ways they could if not (or could do it more convincingly). Be sure to include all the claims that the thesis makes in this analysis.


As we discussed in class, a thesis statement needs to be given some context. It would therefore be helpful in these reviews to look at how the essay you read does this. Does it establish that the thesis addresses something that people care about and that readers should find interesting? Does it give enough background information that you, and other students in this course, can place the thesis within an ongoing “conversation” and your own understanding of that conversation? Does it give you any sort of preview of the arguments the author will make?


I also mentioned in class that a thesis is likely to have further implications or to raise “what next?” questions, and that these can be good things to make explicit in the conclusion to an essay. As you review your partner’s essay, stop to think of implications you see in it or further questions it raises for you. Talk with your partner about how they did (or didn’t) address these implications, what else they might say, other implications they might have included, what those implications and the way they are presented add to the essay, whether and how they could be used to leave readers with more powerful inspirations after finishing the essay, etc.

As you read, make notes, either mental or in the essay, on these questions and anything else that occurs to you, and be sure to discuss them with the author. Reviewers should suggest ways to better do any of the things implied by the questions, and authors should take the discussion as an opportunity to reflect (both out loud during discussion and to themselves afterwards) on why they approached this essay the way they did.