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Peer Review Practices of L2 Doctoral Students in the Natural Sciences
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies. (LITUM)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5766-2326
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Writing research articles in English is a common requirement in doctoral studies in the natural sciences; however, learning to write the research article genre is challenging, particularly in a foreign language (L2). A potential resource for learning the RA genre is giving and receiving peer review. L2 writers at the undergraduate level have been found to benefit from PR, but less  is known about the learning of L2 writers at the graduate level who are writing for specialized discourse communities.

The aim of this dissertation is to describe how a group of L2 doctoral students in the natural sciences used online peer review in a research writing course. Inductive analysis was used to categorize the kinds of review comments that 11 course participants gave and received. In another study, three students’ revised texts were analyzed in detail to see how they used peer comments. To explore  students’ perceptions of using the PR activity, pre and post course interviews were inductively analyzed.  Findings were interpreted using Vygotskian constructs of learning in order to see where mediation likely occurs. 

The combined studies suggest that reviewers adopted roles that influenced what they noticed, analyzed and languaged. As a group, they focused on the lexical and syntactic precision of peers’ texts, as well as the organization, cohesion, voice, stance and research knowledge. Writers used the intent of the review comments approximately 40 percent of the time, but this usage reflected only a small portion of the writers’ revision activities that occurred in response to review.  Other activities included composing, re-writing, investigating, interviewing outsiders, and re-ordering the texts.  Writers found precision and organizational comments most useful.

Findings from these combined studies indicate that peer review can be a potentially powerful tool for doctoral students to familiarize themselves with discipline-specific research articles.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet , 2016. , 238 p.
, Umeå Studies in Language and Literature, 31
Keyword [en]
peer review, second language writing, genre, research articles, discourse communities, natural sciences, doctoral students, mediation
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
language teaching and learning; English
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-117548ISBN: 978-91-7601-439-4OAI: diva2:908121
Public defence
2016-03-21, Lecture hall E, Humanities Building, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2016-03-07 Created: 2016-03-01 Last updated: 2016-03-07Bibliographically approved

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Sandström, Karyn
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