Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reviewing friends’ writings

Last week we were asked to write a book chapter by our advisor. Coordination was difficult because we were six people working on it and we were unclear how the chapter should actually look like. Even though we are all awesome friends, at times, we were angry at each other because of difference in opinions and/or task division issues. Many times, when we reviewed someone's writing in group, we ended up discussing. I think it is natural for any of us to start feeling defensive when we are thrown more than one suggestion in public, especially when we are not prepared to listen to a lot of corrections. (It is my earlier strong experience that suggestions and comments are best made in person, not in public.) Recently, I experienced that we need to be careful during public review sessions. During these public sessions, minor mistakes and absolute corrections (when no other option is correct) are fine. However, general suggestions and opinions (usually which begin with – “I think”, “My opinion is”, etc.) are better kept for later one-to-one talks or informal discussions. Also, when many people are making different comments, it makes the person being commented turn defensive and we end up trying to prove our own opinions. Instead, when we sit one-to-one, we are more prepared to listen about our mistakes and more open to new ideas. Public review should be performed only when all the persons involved have already reviewed the writing individually before the review session. Actually, it is always effective to send the writings to people and let them read it individually and also give them some time to think about it before sitting together for any review. The ideal case would be to get comments through emails and then discuss anything that look like worth discussing after that.