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25 June 2014

Good, better, best

For me, this last week has underscored the value of peer review.

I love a challenge

I’ve been working on a project chock full of elements that make me love my job. It’s a complex piece of information design. It’s a form that will be given to people for whom reading is a challenge, though it will be filled in by professionals. The form needs to work for both audiences, as well as meeting legal requirements for informed consent. And it’s a project that, done well, will make a difference for a fragile segment of society.

Because the time frame is very tight (and because I was having fun), I worked over the weekend. I spent all Saturday at my computer, and woke up on Sunday morning with some more ideas.

A job well done?

I was buzzing by Monday; so proud of what I’d achieved. But our in-house process calls for peer review, so I sent the document off to a colleague. I figured she might pick up some small proof reading errors, and maybe comment on the big difference I’d made in the rewrite.

Pride goes before a fall

Back came a tracked-changes version covered with comments, questions, and highlights – and a page-length covering email pointing out some things I hadn’t thought about.

As I worked my way through her draft, I realised that the peer review shone a spotlight on a large hole at the start of the form. My colleague’s suggested changes showed that she’d misunderstood who was going to fill out the form. Once I rewrote the instructions paragraph on the first page to make this important point clear, I could delete a lot of her comments and questions.

A job better done

I’m really proud of the final draft that has gone to the client. I had done a good job. Thanks to my colleague, we’ve now done an even better job.

Talk to us about training in being a good peer reviewer
Talk to us about rewriting your forms

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