Briefly state your audience and purpose in the space provided here. Have your extended audience analysis available for your workshop partners.
Assume the role of the devil's advocate, i.e., imagine that you are a somewhat hostile opponent of the writer who seeks to argue against his/her claims. Read the draft with pen in hand and note your objections and counter-arguments in the margin as you read.
Read the statement of purpose and audience above, and then read through the draft once. Next, answer the following questions about the paper. Use a different color pen from the first reader so the writer will be able to distinguish your comments from his/hers.
- If you can find an explicit statement of the overall claim (thesis) of this paper, underline it. If not, do you think it is necessary that the claim be stated explicitly, or would any reader be able to infer it easily? If the claim is easily inferred, write it in your own words here.
- How could the claim be improved? Is it offensive, vague, or too general? Does it have a single focus? Is it clearly stated? Suggest more concrete phrasing, if possible.
- Circle the key terms of the claim, i.e., the words most central to the point. Could there be disagreement about the meaning of any of these terms? If so, has the author at some point in the essay offered clarification of what he or she means by these terms?
- Look for the structure and strategy of the argument. Underline the sentences that most clearly present the reasons, and write Reason 1, Reason 2, etc. in the margin. If doing so is not easy, indicate this problem to the writer. Do the reasons not stand out as reasons? Do you think the writer has arranged the reasons in the best order? What is the best reason given? Has the writer placed it where it will have the most impact? Make suggestions for improvement.
- Look for any weaknesses in evidence. What reasons need more or better support? Next to any weakly supported reasons, write questions to let the writer know what factual information seems lacking, what sources don't seem solid or credible, what statements sound too general, what reasoning seems shaky (or fallacious).
- What kinds of appeals does the writer make? Label where the argument appeals to emotion, logic, or credibility (of the writer or of his/her sources). Do you find these appeals appropriate to the purpose and audience? Why or why not?
- Does the argument adequately address opposing arguments? Suggest where and how the writer might improve this.
- Evaluate the introduction and conclusion. Does the introduction draw the reader into the argument and focus on its key issues? Does the conclusion reinforce the purpose of the argument? How could the introduction and conclusion be improved?
- Does the writer document sources correctly and effectively? Where is improvement needed?