The IGLP Approach

Presenting & Offering Feedback At Writing Workshops

All of us give feedback and comment on other people’s intellectual work. We all try to situate our own work in relationship to the ideas other people have had about issues we care about, which also requires that we accurately reflect on their prior work. We hope the Writing Workshop will help us all become better at this crucial professional activity. We propose a simple three step approach when you present someone’s work:

First, restate the paper. What does it say? Reflect as accurately as possible what the other author has said as you heard or read it. By itself, this can often be extremely helpful – letting the author know what came across.

Second, identify the scholarly intervention. What is the main contribution of this piece to the existing literature? What appears to be the author’s purpose in publishing this piece and why would/should others want to read it?

Third, offer constructive feedback. How can the author’s project be improved, her or his intervention strengthened?

We purposely leave out a fourth element that is, unfortunately, common in reviews of other people’s work– explaining what you would write, how you would intervene in the same debate. Although crucial for your own work, this is only rarely helpful to another author. Each of us begins our own work by moving from what others are saying to what we wish to say. In presenting someone else’s work, the goal is a different one: help the author and your audience understand what he or she has communicated and how it might matter. In formulating your feedback aim to assist the author to achieve his or her own objectives better.

In what follows, we give you the outline that will guide discussions in each of the sessions and some more specific suggestions to inform your remarks.