Do Document Reviews Provide Signifcant Feedback?

Subject: Do Document Reviews Provide Signifcant Feedback?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Tony Markos <ajmarkos -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 12:10:05 -0500

Tony Markos wondered: <<Someone recently posted about having people review his/her up to 600 page manuals. Can such reviews result in significant feedback such as reorgan1zation suggestions or the filling of logical "holes", or will feedback on text be limited to minnor corrections?>>

This depends on the reviewer and on your instructions to the reviewer. Someone who is really interested in doing a good review will do so with or without your instructions, but will do a much better job of focusing on the things you consider most important if you provide clear instructions as to what is important. Someone who isn't interested in the review process will try to get through it as fast as possible, doing as little work as possible, and will do a shoddy review if you don't provide sufficient motivation (threats or rewards, as the case may be <g>).

If you submit a document full of distractions (i.e., typos, incomprehensible sentences), even the most stoic reviewer will be distracted and will focus on fixing these problems rather than concentrating on the meat of the review. I've worked with enough scientists and engineers to know that they love catching me in typos or other infelicities, and if I leave those in the document I send for review, they'll fix them instead of concentrating on technical correctness. That's not "theory", by the way; it's 20 years of experience speaking.

Indeed, I make a good living these days editing journal manuscripts before peer review for authors writing with English as their second or third or fourth language. My promise: I'll clean up the document so thoroughly that the journal reviewers can actually focus on their science, not on how they're describing it. Journal editors love this service because it lets them do their job (improving the quality of the science that gets published through careful peer review) rather than fixing the language used to communicate the science.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Do Document Reviews Provide Signifcant Feedback?: From: Tony Markos

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