The Importance of Revising Your Paper
Many students make the mistake of finishing a draft of their paper and handing it in. Not only are their papers often filled with typographical errors and other problems, but they lack the benefits of a fundamental stage in the writing process: revision.
When we revise our writing, we take the opportunity to step back and re-envision it. We think about the goals of the paper and whether we have accomplished these goals. We ensure that our ideas are clearly expressed and well supported. And, we make certain that errors of grammar and style do not detract from our work or make it look as though the paper was prepared hastily.
Keep the following rules of revision in mind:
- Do everything in your power NOT to hand in a first draft.
- Try to take a break (even if it is only 30 minutes) between drafting and revision. This will help you gain perspective.
- If you are feeling frustrated and stuck, involve someone else in your revision process. You can have a friend read it. Or, you can take a draft to the Academic Skills Centre.
Revising for Substance
As you read through your draft, ask yourself the following questions about the substance of your paper:
- Is your thesis clearly and firmly stated?
- Do you present your own analysis?
- Does your work fairly reflect the sources that you consulted?
- Do you include specific evidence to support your ideas? Is this evidence analyzed and explained?
- Are there gaps in your logic that need to be corrected?
- Do you fulfill all of the goals that you set out in the thesis?
- Have you met all of the instructions included with the assignment?
Revising for Structure
As you read, you need to ensure that your essay has a strong structure. Consider all of the questions below:
- Is there a clear and logical pattern by which you prove your thesis?
- Does your introduction give a clear indication of what the paper is about?
- Is each paragraph unified and developed?
- Does each paragraph contain a strong, clear topic sentence?
- Is each paragraph related to the thesis? You could create a reverse outline. See Creating an Effective Outline.
- Do you have transitions between paragraphs and between sections?
- Does your essay have a well-reasoned and interesting conclusion?
Revising for Style
Unclear writing and errors detract from your ideas and your mark. As you edit, you want to think about your writing style. Take the following issues into account:
- Have you used the passive voice too much?
- Did you make sure to use gender neutral language?
- Is your language precise and concise?
- Have you edited out repetitive language or syntax?
- Have you corrected grammatical errors and made sure that all of the names and events that you discuss are spelled properly?
- Is all of your information properly footnoted and do you have a bibliography that is correctly formatted?
Your final read-through of the draft should focus on formatting and accuracy – not substance. Use a hard-copy instead of just reading from your computer screen. You may want to read the words out loud. Check for:
- Spelling, typographical errors, correct word usage
- Italicize or underline titles of books and put titles of articles in quotation marks
- Correct documentation and bibliography
- Double Space (unless told otherwise)
- Create a Title Page that includes a title for your essay, your name, your section and tutorial leader’s name, and the date.
- Pagination. Use page numbers but do not use a page number on the title page.
Academic Writing: The Importance of Revision in Academic Writing Essay
Academic writing and its style changes as the student passes from high school to college and also while in higher studies. Academic writing, especially starting from the college level can be considered as writing done by scholars for other scholars. It involves reading, thinking, arguing, and finally writing about subjects or ideas. It is important that the content of the academic paper need to be carefully analyzed and put in simple language that can be understood by every one. Academic paper should present the reader with an informed argument on a particular subject (Gocsik, 2005).
It is therefore important for a student to select the appropriate topic, understand and get more knowledge on the topic and write it in a structured manner. These are the basic steps that need to be followed in an academic writing. Once a student completes writing an academic paper, the next important step is to revise it thoroughly. Revision plays a very important role in academic writing. This paper discusses the need for revision in academic writing.
Initially while writing, there will be many errors that are overlooked. Revision of the paper will aid the student to carefully look over the writing and will help them to catch errors that they might otherwise miss. A slow reading while revision helps to spot errors than reading at a normal speed. Additionally, when a student revises, it is a good idea to put themselves into the audience’s shoes. Here the audience’s may include teachers, professors, or other students.
This enables them to think in the perspective of the audiences and thereby put forth their ideas in simple and clear terms. It is also a good idea to get another person involved in revision. A fresh reader will be able to help catch the mistakes that might have been overlooked by the writer. They may also help to analysis the paper in a critical manner. As a result, it will be possible for the student to answer the question asked by another person and also give more ideas to express their own ideas in the paper (The OWL at Purdue University, 2008).
Revision can also be termed as proofreading. Proofreading is primarily about searching the writing for errors, both grammatical and typographical, before submitting the paper. It is good the give a gap between writing and proofing. This time span basically aims to help the student to return with a fresh eye and mind (Wells, et al. 2007). In other words, writing is typically re-writing, or re-seeing the writing over and over again, each time making the meaning clearer. This helps to put forth a refined thought. The real skill of academic writing gets more and more refined with revision. Revision is the only way the writer can fiddle with words, and fashion sentences and paragraphs to make them strong and true (Handley, N.D.).
Academic writing is not just writing what ever comes to once mind. It is writing and re-writing it together with editing its sentences one by one. It also looks into the whole essay and draft and redraft–rearranging the sequence, adding and deleting sections to have a clear and focused composition. Once the student is ready with a fairly complete and well-organized draft, it is important for them to revise sentences while giving due attention to transitions.
This aids the student in read-through to make sure that a reader will be able to understand the basic idea within sentences, from sentence to sentence, and from paragraph to paragraph. Last but not the least, it is also important to have a through spell check to examine the exactness and aptness of words and to remove unnecessary words (Procter, 2007). Revision plays a very important role in academic writing. It can be said that an academic paper without revision is an incomplete paper; often it will not be able to convey its ideas clearly to the audiences. The final paper with good revision and restructuring will be able to convey all necessary ideas clearly which is the basic purpose of any academic writing.
Gocsik, K. (2005) Revision: Cultivating a Critical Eye, Dartmouth College. Web.
Handley, E. (N.D.) Writer’s Block. Web.
Procter, M. (2007) Some General Advice on Academic Essay-Writing. Web.
The OWL at Purdue University, (2008) Proofreading Your Writing. Web.
Wells, J.M., Sousa, M. and Martini, M. (2007) Proofreading Your Writing, [Online] Purdue OWL. Web.
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The Importance of Revision
Revision and editing are both important parts of the writing process, yet many students skip revision and don’t spend enough time editing. It’s important to remember that these steps are separate and that each step takes time. The following pages will help you develop strong revision and editing strategies for your writing process.
The revision process is an essential aspect of writing and one that you should build in time for before submitting your written work.
Revision means to “re-see” the piece of writing. It isn’t just proofreading your paper or correcting grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors. Revision is stepping back and looking at your paper as a whole and seeing if you are effectively saying what you intend to say. It is giving your paper a thorough look to see how you can make it stronger. Your goal should always be to write clearly, concisely, and in an engaging way.
One way to go about re-seeing your writing is to do it in three stages. Many people skip the first stage, but looking at the big picture is crucial in making sure you have a well-developed essay that expresses your ideas.
- Authored by : Excelsior OWL. Provided by : Excelsior. License : CC BY: Attribution . License Terms : Minor modifications to language and format were made.
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8.4 Revising and Editing
- Identify major areas of concern in the draft essay during revising and editing.
- Use peer reviews and editing checklists to assist revising and editing.
- Revise and edit the first draft of your essay and produce a final draft.
Revising and editing are the two tasks you undertake to significantly improve your essay. Both are very important elements of the writing process. You may think that a completed first draft means little improvement is needed. However, even experienced writers need to improve their drafts and rely on peers during revising and editing. You may know that athletes miss catches, fumble balls, or overshoot goals. Dancers forget steps, turn too slowly, or miss beats. For both athletes and dancers, the more they practice, the stronger their performance will become. Web designers seek better images, a more clever design, or a more appealing background for their web pages. Writing has the same capacity to profit from improvement and revision.
Understanding the Purpose of Revising and Editing
Revising and editing allow you to examine two important aspects of your writing separately, so that you can give each task your undivided attention.
- When you revise , you take a second look at your ideas. You might add, cut, move, or change information in order to make your ideas clearer, more accurate, more interesting, or more convincing.
- When you edit , you take a second look at how you expressed your ideas. You add or change words. You fix any problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. You improve your writing style. You make your essay into a polished, mature piece of writing, the end product of your best efforts.
How do you get the best out of your revisions and editing? Here are some strategies that writers have developed to look at their first drafts from a fresh perspective. Try them over the course of this semester; then keep using the ones that bring results.
- Take a break. You are proud of what you wrote, but you might be too close to it to make changes. Set aside your writing for a few hours or even a day until you can look at it objectively.
- Ask someone you trust for feedback and constructive criticism.
- Pretend you are one of your readers. Are you satisfied or dissatisfied? Why?
- Use the resources that your college provides. Find out where your school’s writing lab is located and ask about the assistance they provide online and in person.
Many people hear the words critic , critical , and criticism and pick up only negative vibes that provoke feelings that make them blush, grumble, or shout. However, as a writer and a thinker, you need to learn to be critical of yourself in a positive way and have high expectations for your work. You also need to train your eye and trust your ability to fix what needs fixing. For this, you need to teach yourself where to look.
Creating Unity and Coherence
Following your outline closely offers you a reasonable guarantee that your writing will stay on purpose and not drift away from the controlling idea. However, when writers are rushed, are tired, or cannot find the right words, their writing may become less than they want it to be. Their writing may no longer be clear and concise, and they may be adding information that is not needed to develop the main idea.
When a piece of writing has unity , all the ideas in each paragraph and in the entire essay clearly belong and are arranged in an order that makes logical sense. When the writing has coherence , the ideas flow smoothly. The wording clearly indicates how one idea leads to another within a paragraph and from paragraph to paragraph.
Reading your writing aloud will often help you find problems with unity and coherence. Listen for the clarity and flow of your ideas. Identify places where you find yourself confused, and write a note to yourself about possible fixes.
Sometimes writers get caught up in the moment and cannot resist a good digression. Even though you might enjoy such detours when you chat with friends, unplanned digressions usually harm a piece of writing.
Mariah stayed close to her outline when she drafted the three body paragraphs of her essay she tentatively titled “Digital Technology: The Newest and the Best at What Price?” But a recent shopping trip for an HDTV upset her enough that she digressed from the main topic of her third paragraph and included comments about the sales staff at the electronics store she visited. When she revised her essay, she deleted the off-topic sentences that affected the unity of the paragraph.
Read the following paragraph twice, the first time without Mariah’s changes, and the second time with them.
Nothing is more confusing to me than choosing among televisions. It confuses lots of people who want a new high-definition digital television (HDTV) with a large screen to watch sports and DVDs on. You could listen to the guys in the electronics store, but word has it they know little more than you do. They want to sell what they have in stock, not what best fits your needs. You face decisions you never had to make with the old, bulky picture-tube televisions. Screen resolution means the number of horizontal scan lines the screen can show. This resolution is often 1080p, or full HD, or 768p. The trouble is that if you have a smaller screen, 32 inches or 37 inches diagonal, you won’t be able to tell the difference with the naked eye. The 1080p televisions cost more, though, so those are what the salespeople want you to buy. They get bigger commissions. The other important decision you face as you walk around the sales floor is whether to get a plasma screen or an LCD screen. Now here the salespeople may finally give you decent info. Plasma flat-panel television screens can be much larger in diameter than their LCD rivals. Plasma screens show truer blacks and can be viewed at a wider angle than current LCD screens. But be careful and tell the salesperson you have budget constraints. Large flat-panel plasma screens are much more expensive than flat-screen LCD models. Don’t let someone make you by more television than you need!
Answer the following two questions about Mariah’s paragraph:
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
- Now start to revise the first draft of the essay you wrote in Section 8 “Writing Your Own First Draft” . Reread it to find any statements that affect the unity of your writing. Decide how best to revise.
When you reread your writing to find revisions to make, look for each type of problem in a separate sweep. Read it straight through once to locate any problems with unity. Read it straight through a second time to find problems with coherence. You may follow this same practice during many stages of the writing process.
Writing at Work
Many companies hire copyeditors and proofreaders to help them produce the cleanest possible final drafts of large writing projects. Copyeditors are responsible for suggesting revisions and style changes; proofreaders check documents for any errors in capitalization, spelling, and punctuation that have crept in. Many times, these tasks are done on a freelance basis, with one freelancer working for a variety of clients.
Careful writers use transitions to clarify how the ideas in their sentences and paragraphs are related. These words and phrases help the writing flow smoothly. Adding transitions is not the only way to improve coherence, but they are often useful and give a mature feel to your essays. Table 8.3 “Common Transitional Words and Phrases” groups many common transitions according to their purpose.
Table 8.3 Common Transitional Words and Phrases
After Maria revised for unity, she next examined her paragraph about televisions to check for coherence. She looked for places where she needed to add a transition or perhaps reword the text to make the flow of ideas clear. In the version that follows, she has already deleted the sentences that were off topic.
Many writers make their revisions on a printed copy and then transfer them to the version on-screen. They conventionally use a small arrow called a caret (^) to show where to insert an addition or correction.
1. Answer the following questions about Mariah’s revised paragraph.
2. Now return to the first draft of the essay you wrote in Section 8 “Writing Your Own First Draft” and revise it for coherence. Add transition words and phrases where they are needed, and make any other changes that are needed to improve the flow and connection between ideas.
Being Clear and Concise
Some writers are very methodical and painstaking when they write a first draft. Other writers unleash a lot of words in order to get out all that they feel they need to say. Do either of these composing styles match your style? Or is your composing style somewhere in between? No matter which description best fits you, the first draft of almost every piece of writing, no matter its author, can be made clearer and more concise.
If you have a tendency to write too much, you will need to look for unnecessary words. If you have a tendency to be vague or imprecise in your wording, you will need to find specific words to replace any overly general language.
Sometimes writers use too many words when fewer words will appeal more to their audience and better fit their purpose. Here are some common examples of wordiness to look for in your draft. Eliminating wordiness helps all readers, because it makes your ideas clear, direct, and straightforward.
Sentences that begin with There is or There are .
Wordy: There are two major experiments that the Biology Department sponsors.
Revised: The Biology Department sponsors two major experiments.
Sentences with unnecessary modifiers.
Wordy: Two extremely famous and well-known consumer advocates spoke eloquently in favor of the proposed important legislation.
Revised: Two well-known consumer advocates spoke in favor of the proposed legislation.
Sentences with deadwood phrases that add little to the meaning. Be judicious when you use phrases such as in terms of , with a mind to , on the subject of , as to whether or not , more or less , as far as…is concerned , and similar expressions. You can usually find a more straightforward way to state your point.
Wordy: As a world leader in the field of green technology, the company plans to focus its efforts in the area of geothermal energy.
A report as to whether or not to use geysers as an energy source is in the process of preparation.
Revised: As a world leader in green technology, the company plans to focus on geothermal energy.
A report about using geysers as an energy source is in preparation.
Sentences in the passive voice or with forms of the verb to be . Sentences with passive-voice verbs often create confusion, because the subject of the sentence does not perform an action. Sentences are clearer when the subject of the sentence performs the action and is followed by a strong verb. Use strong active-voice verbs in place of forms of to be , which can lead to wordiness. Avoid passive voice when you can.
Wordy: It might perhaps be said that using a GPS device is something that is a benefit to drivers who have a poor sense of direction.
Revised: Using a GPS device benefits drivers who have a poor sense of direction.
Sentences with constructions that can be shortened.
Wordy: The e-book reader, which is a recent invention, may become as commonplace as the cell phone.
My over-sixty uncle bought an e-book reader, and his wife bought an e-book reader, too.
Revised: The e-book reader, a recent invention, may become as commonplace as the cell phone.
My over-sixty uncle and his wife both bought e-book readers.
Now return once more to the first draft of the essay you have been revising. Check it for unnecessary words. Try making your sentences as concise as they can be.
Choosing Specific, Appropriate Words
Most college essays should be written in formal English suitable for an academic situation. Follow these principles to be sure that your word choice is appropriate. For more information about word choice, see Chapter 4 “Working with Words: Which Word Is Right?” .
- Avoid slang. Find alternatives to bummer , kewl , and rad .
- Avoid language that is overly casual. Write about “men and women” rather than “girls and guys” unless you are trying to create a specific effect. A formal tone calls for formal language.
- Avoid contractions. Use do not in place of don’t , I am in place of I’m , have not in place of haven’t , and so on. Contractions are considered casual speech.
- Avoid clichés. Overused expressions such as green with envy , face the music , better late than never , and similar expressions are empty of meaning and may not appeal to your audience.
- Be careful when you use words that sound alike but have different meanings. Some examples are allusion/illusion , complement/compliment , council/counsel , concurrent/consecutive , founder/flounder , and historic/historical . When in doubt, check a dictionary.
- Choose words with the connotations you want. Choosing a word for its connotations is as important in formal essay writing as it is in all kinds of writing. Compare the positive connotations of the word proud and the negative connotations of arrogant and conceited .
- Use specific words rather than overly general words. Find synonyms for thing , people , nice , good , bad , interesting , and other vague words. Or use specific details to make your exact meaning clear.
Now read the revisions Mariah made to make her third paragraph clearer and more concise. She has already incorporated the changes she made to improve unity and coherence.
1. Answer the following questions about Mariah’s revised paragraph:
2. Now return once more to your essay in progress. Read carefully for problems with word choice. Be sure that your draft is written in formal language and that your word choice is specific and appropriate.
Completing a Peer Review
After working so closely with a piece of writing, writers often need to step back and ask for a more objective reader. What writers most need is feedback from readers who can respond only to the words on the page. When they are ready, writers show their drafts to someone they respect and who can give an honest response about its strengths and weaknesses.
You, too, can ask a peer to read your draft when it is ready. After evaluating the feedback and assessing what is most helpful, the reader’s feedback will help you when you revise your draft. This process is called peer review .
You can work with a partner in your class and identify specific ways to strengthen each other’s essays. Although you may be uncomfortable sharing your writing at first, remember that each writer is working toward the same goal: a final draft that fits the audience and the purpose. Maintaining a positive attitude when providing feedback will put you and your partner at ease. The box that follows provides a useful framework for the peer review session.
Questions for Peer Review
Title of essay: ____________________________________________
Writer’s name: ____________________________________________
Peer reviewer’s name: _________________________________________
- This essay is about____________________________________________.
- Your main points in this essay are____________________________________________.
- What I most liked about this essay is____________________________________________.
These three points struck me as your strongest:
These places in your essay are not clear to me:
a. Where: ____________________________________________
Needs improvement because__________________________________________
b. Where: ____________________________________________
Needs improvement because ____________________________________________
c. Where: ____________________________________________
The one additional change you could make that would improve this essay significantly is ____________________________________________.
One of the reasons why word-processing programs build in a reviewing feature is that workgroups have become a common feature in many businesses. Writing is often collaborative, and the members of a workgroup and their supervisors often critique group members’ work and offer feedback that will lead to a better final product.
Exchange essays with a classmate and complete a peer review of each other’s draft in progress. Remember to give positive feedback and to be courteous and polite in your responses. Focus on providing one positive comment and one question for more information to the author.
Using Feedback Objectively
The purpose of peer feedback is to receive constructive criticism of your essay. Your peer reviewer is your first real audience, and you have the opportunity to learn what confuses and delights a reader so that you can improve your work before sharing the final draft with a wider audience (or your intended audience).
It may not be necessary to incorporate every recommendation your peer reviewer makes. However, if you start to observe a pattern in the responses you receive from peer reviewers, you might want to take that feedback into consideration in future assignments. For example, if you read consistent comments about a need for more research, then you may want to consider including more research in future assignments.
Using Feedback from Multiple Sources
You might get feedback from more than one reader as you share different stages of your revised draft. In this situation, you may receive feedback from readers who do not understand the assignment or who lack your involvement with and enthusiasm for it.
You need to evaluate the responses you receive according to two important criteria:
- Determine if the feedback supports the purpose of the assignment.
- Determine if the suggested revisions are appropriate to the audience.
Then, using these standards, accept or reject revision feedback.
Work with two partners. Go back to Note 8.81 “Exercise 4” in this lesson and compare your responses to Activity A, about Mariah’s paragraph, with your partners’. Recall Mariah’s purpose for writing and her audience. Then, working individually, list where you agree and where you disagree about revision needs.
Editing Your Draft
If you have been incorporating each set of revisions as Mariah has, you have produced multiple drafts of your writing. So far, all your changes have been content changes. Perhaps with the help of peer feedback, you have made sure that you sufficiently supported your ideas. You have checked for problems with unity and coherence. You have examined your essay for word choice, revising to cut unnecessary words and to replace weak wording with specific and appropriate wording.
The next step after revising the content is editing. When you edit, you examine the surface features of your text. You examine your spelling, grammar, usage, and punctuation. You also make sure you use the proper format when creating your finished assignment.
Editing often takes time. Budgeting time into the writing process allows you to complete additional edits after revising. Editing and proofreading your writing helps you create a finished work that represents your best efforts. Here are a few more tips to remember about your readers:
- Readers do not notice correct spelling, but they do notice misspellings.
- Readers look past your sentences to get to your ideas—unless the sentences are awkward, poorly constructed, and frustrating to read.
- Readers notice when every sentence has the same rhythm as every other sentence, with no variety.
- Readers do not cheer when you use there , their , and they’re correctly, but they notice when you do not.
- Readers will notice the care with which you handled your assignment and your attention to detail in the delivery of an error-free document..
The first section of this book offers a useful review of grammar, mechanics, and usage. Use it to help you eliminate major errors in your writing and refine your understanding of the conventions of language. Do not hesitate to ask for help, too, from peer tutors in your academic department or in the college’s writing lab. In the meantime, use the checklist to help you edit your writing.
Editing Your Writing
- Are some sentences actually sentence fragments?
- Are some sentences run-on sentences? How can I correct them?
- Do some sentences need conjunctions between independent clauses?
- Does every verb agree with its subject?
- Is every verb in the correct tense?
- Are tense forms, especially for irregular verbs, written correctly?
- Have I used subject, object, and possessive personal pronouns correctly?
- Have I used who and whom correctly?
- Is the antecedent of every pronoun clear?
- Do all personal pronouns agree with their antecedents?
- Have I used the correct comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs?
- Is it clear which word a participial phrase modifies, or is it a dangling modifier?
- Are all my sentences simple sentences, or do I vary my sentence structure?
- Have I chosen the best coordinating or subordinating conjunctions to join clauses?
- Have I created long, overpacked sentences that should be shortened for clarity?
- Do I see any mistakes in parallel structure?
- Does every sentence end with the correct end punctuation?
- Can I justify the use of every exclamation point?
- Have I used apostrophes correctly to write all singular and plural possessive forms?
- Have I used quotation marks correctly?
Mechanics and Usage
- Can I find any spelling errors? How can I correct them?
- Have I used capital letters where they are needed?
- Have I written abbreviations, where allowed, correctly?
- Can I find any errors in the use of commonly confused words, such as to / too / two ?
Be careful about relying too much on spelling checkers and grammar checkers. A spelling checker cannot recognize that you meant to write principle but wrote principal instead. A grammar checker often queries constructions that are perfectly correct. The program does not understand your meaning; it makes its check against a general set of formulas that might not apply in each instance. If you use a grammar checker, accept the suggestions that make sense, but consider why the suggestions came up.
Proofreading requires patience; it is very easy to read past a mistake. Set your paper aside for at least a few hours, if not a day or more, so your mind will rest. Some professional proofreaders read a text backward so they can concentrate on spelling and punctuation. Another helpful technique is to slowly read a paper aloud, paying attention to every word, letter, and punctuation mark.
If you need additional proofreading help, ask a reliable friend, a classmate, or a peer tutor to make a final pass on your paper to look for anything you missed.
Remember to use proper format when creating your finished assignment. Sometimes an instructor, a department, or a college will require students to follow specific instructions on titles, margins, page numbers, or the location of the writer’s name. These requirements may be more detailed and rigid for research projects and term papers, which often observe the American Psychological Association (APA) or Modern Language Association (MLA) style guides, especially when citations of sources are included.
To ensure the format is correct and follows any specific instructions, make a final check before you submit an assignment.
With the help of the checklist, edit and proofread your essay.
- Revising and editing are the stages of the writing process in which you improve your work before producing a final draft.
- During revising, you add, cut, move, or change information in order to improve content.
- During editing, you take a second look at the words and sentences you used to express your ideas and fix any problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
- Unity in writing means that all the ideas in each paragraph and in the entire essay clearly belong together and are arranged in an order that makes logical sense.
- Coherence in writing means that the writer’s wording clearly indicates how one idea leads to another within a paragraph and between paragraphs.
- Transitional words and phrases effectively make writing more coherent.
- Writing should be clear and concise, with no unnecessary words.
- Effective formal writing uses specific, appropriate words and avoids slang, contractions, clichés, and overly general words.
- Peer reviews, done properly, can give writers objective feedback about their writing. It is the writer’s responsibility to evaluate the results of peer reviews and incorporate only useful feedback.
- Remember to budget time for careful editing and proofreading. Use all available resources, including editing checklists, peer editing, and your institution’s writing lab, to improve your editing skills.
Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
The Importance of Revising Research Papers
Even the most experienced writers and published researchers sometimes make mistakes when revising their work. That’s because the research process prior to writing requires you to investigate, ask questions, and develop answers that require critical thinking skills and thoughtful reflection.
You must then be able to relay this information in a meaningful and thought-provoking way. Find out how to do this and why it’s important to revise your research paper. See the steps that help with revision, and why revision should never be optional but a priority. Stick around until the end, where you’ll learn how Orvium helps with revisions.
Why It’s Important to Revise Research Papers
It’s important to revise a paper to become a better writer, create a stronger, more compelling argument for your paper, and improve your reading and analytical skills . Revising a research paper goes beyond checking for typos and rearranging sentences. In fact, revision is essentially a way to see your writing through fresh eyes, over and over again.
If you want an accurate, thought-provoking, and well-written paper, you’ll want to pay close attention to how you revise your paper. Without revision, there’s no guarantee your paper will be any of these things.
Start by considering your thesis from multiple viewpoints, as the best statements come after completing your paper, and it’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll have the most appropriate thesis before completing your first draft. Additionally, focus on restructuring your paper so that you’re adding more relevant ideas or details, removing unnecessary points, and ensuring your supporting evidence is correct and logical, making your argument stronger.
See how to do so with the steps below.
Steps for Revising Your Research Paper
The research and writing process can be long, complex, and unfriendly for many researchers and academicians. You’re trying to persuade readers of an idea or a solution to a problem based on facts, not personal opinions. That’s why you must focus on who your audience is, your organizational skills, and seeing the big picture (what you want your reader to know about the topic).
Here are some steps to help you revise your paper:
- If you have ample time for revision, set your writing aside and revisit it a day or a week later . Try setting your writing aside at least twice - once during the first part of the writing process and again during the second part of the process. By doing this, you might notice details that you left out during the first round of revision, or you found new ideas that you want to add.
- Ask for feedback from sources you trust . You may not be the best person to evaluate your own writing, as you already have a clear picture of what you want to say. However, by asking someone else to look over your paper, you can ensure that:
- all of your ideas make sense
- the body of your paper supports your thesis
- you offer enough evidence to support your claim
- you’re using appropriate language.
- Draft a reverse outline , which allows you to consider how each of your main points is connected to your thesis. Identify the main idea for each paragraph and rank them in order of importance.
- Reorganize your argument and reconsider your entire thesis . After completing the previous steps, you may reorder some points, remove irrelevant facts, or add something valuable. Ensure your thesis is at the beginning of your paper, that it’s arguable, answers a specific analytical question, and that your argument is concise and demonstrates why others should read your paper. See more tips for your argument and thesis here .
- Always proofread . It might help to read your paper aloud (or have someone else read it aloud to you), as your ears can pick up on things your eyes miss. Ensure your paper has sentence clarity.
We at Orvium know that research and academic papers are sometimes rejected . One of the reasons for this may be spelling mistakes, bad grammar, poor English, or any other related reasons. That’s why it’s crucial to revise your paper. You work so hard to gather data and other pertinent information and come up with an argument and thesis that it’d be a shame not to do it right the first time around.
Thankfully, we’re an all-in-one preprint and peer-review platform , functioning on blockchain technology. If you want to get your paper peer-reviewed and published in a journal faster, look no further. Our peer-review process ensures that fair and unbiased research papers maintain trustworthiness by allowing reviewers to collaborate, showcase their profiles, and track their impact, all on one platform.
Find out more about blockchain and how it can facilitate collaboration, manage copyright and licensing costs, and change the publishing industry as we know it in our blockchain and publishing article.
Revision Should Never be an Option, But a Priority
Writing strengthens a lot of relevant skills for researchers and academicians alike. For example, as you’re revising and editing your paper, you may encounter new ideas that encourage you to conduct more research or take a deeper look at something. This strengthens your research and analytical skills.
Say you decide to rewrite an entire paragraph; this matures your grammar and writing skills. You may also decide that you need to restructure or reorganize your paper to mention stronger points first and exclude irrelevant ones altogether. This exercises your reasoning and decision-making skills.
That’s why you must make revising your work a priority.
Orvium Simplifies Revisions
You’ve learned why you should revise research and academic papers, the steps you should follow to do so, and what skills you gain from correctly revising your work. Now, it’s time to get revising! Remember to read your paper from the first word to the very last one.
If by the time you finish writing, you made new discoveries about your supporting evidence, or you feel like you haven’t adequately described your argument or thesis, start the revision process over from the beginning.
Don’t forget to get your paper ready for publication with Orvium, and check out our platform for even more information that may help you.
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RHETORIC & WRITING
Writing about literature, the writing process.
Revision is one of the most important and difficult tasks for any writer. It’s a crucial stage in the writing process, yet one that is all too easy to ignore or mismanage. The difference between a so-so essay and a good one, between a good essay and a great one, often depends entirely on effective revision. Give yourself time to revise and develop revision strategies that work for you; the investment in time and effort will pay rich dividends.
Ideally, the process of revision should involve three distinct tasks: assessing the elements, improving the argument, and editing and proofreading. Each of these may require a separate draft. Before considering those three tasks, however, you should be aware of the following three general tips.
First, effective revision requires you to temporarily play the role of reader, as well as writer, of your essay. Take a step back from your draft, doing your utmost to look at it from a more objective point of view. Revision demands re-vision— looking again, seeing anew. As a result, this is an especially good time to involve other people. Have a classmate or friend read and critique your draft.
Second, at this stage it helps to think less in absolute terms (right and wrong, good and bad) than in terms of strengths and weaknesses (elements and aspects of the draft that work well and those that can be improved through revision). If you can understand what’s making your essay work as well as what’s detracting from it, then you’re better able to improve it. Don’t get distracted from this important work by grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or other minutiae; there will be time to correct them later.
Third, learn to take full advantage of all the capabilities of the computer, but also recognize its limitations. Cutting and pasting make experimenting with different organizational strategies a breeze; word-processing programs identify problems with grammar, spelling, and syntax; the search function can locate repetitive or problematic wording; and so on. You should familiarize yourself with, and use, all of the tools your computer provides and be thankful that you barely know the meaning of the word white-out. But you should also remember that the computer is just a tool with limits and that you must be its master. Like any tool, it can create new problems in the process of solving old ones. When it comes to grammar, syntax, and spelling, for instance, you should always pay attention to your pro-gram’s queries and suggestions. But if you let it make all the decisions, you may end up with an essay full of malapropisms at once hilarious and tragic (one student essay consistently referred to human beings as huma n beans !) or of sentences that are all exactly the same size and shape—all perfectly correct, and all perfectly boring. Also, because the computer makes cutting and pasting so easy and only shows an essay one screen at a time, it’s much easier to reorganize but much harder to recognize the effects of doing so. During revision, then, you should at times move away from the computer screen. Print out a hard copy periodically so that you can assess your essay as a whole, identifying problems that you can return to the computer to fix.
This site and the materials contained herein © 2011 W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. unless otherwise stated., Inc. All rights reserved.
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Revising And Editing
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Revising gives you the chance to preview your work on behalf of the eventual reader. Revision is much more than proofreading, though in the final editing stage it involves some checking of details. Good revision and editing can transform a mediocre first draft into an excellent final paper. It’s more work, but leads to real satisfaction when you find you’ve said what you wanted.
Here are some steps to follow on your own. Writing centres can give you further guidance.
Start Large, End Small
Revision may mean changing the shape and reasoning in your paper. It often means adding or deleting sentences and paragraphs, shifting them around, and reshaping them as you go. Before dealing with details of style and language (editing), be sure you have presented ideas that are clear and forceful. Make notes as you go through these questions, and stop after each section to make the desired revisions.
First check whether you have fulfilled the intention of the assignment . Look again at the instruction sheet, and revise your work to be sure you can say yes to these questions:
- Have you performed the kind of thinking the assignment sheet asked for (e.g., analyse, argue, compare, explore)
- Have you written the genre of document called for (e.g., book review, critique, personal response, field notes, research report, lab report, essay)?
- Have you used concepts and methods of reasoning discussed in the course? Don’t be shy of using theoretical terms from the course. Also beware of just retelling stories or listing information. Looking at your topic sentences in sequence will show what kinds of ideas you have emphasized. (See our handout on Developing Coherent Paragraphs.)
- Have you given adequate evidence for your argument or interpretation? Be sure that the reader knows why and how your ideas are important. A quick way of checking is to note where your paragraphs go after their topic sentences. Watch out for repetitions of general ideas-look for progression into detailed reasoning, usually including source referencing.
Then look at overall organization . It’s worthwhile to print out everything so that you can view the entire document. Then consider these questions, and revise to get the answers you want:
- Does your introduction make clear where the rest of the paper is headed? If the paper is argument-based, you will likely use a thesis statement. Research papers often start with a statement of the research question. (Ask a clear-headed roommate or other friend to give you a prediction of what he or she expects after reading only the first few paragraphs of your paper. Don’t accept a vague answer.)
- Is each section in the right place to fulfil your purpose? (It might help to make a reverse outline: take the key idea from each paragraph or section and set it down in a list so you can see the logical structure of what you’ve written. Does it hang together? Is it all necessary? What’s missing? Revise to fill in gaps and take out irrelevant material.)
- Have you drawn connections between the sections? (Look again at your topic sentences to see if they link back to what has just been said as well as looking forward to the next point. Find ways to draw ideas together explicitly. Use logical statements, not just a sprinkling of connecting words.)
- Would a person reading your conclusion know what question you had asked and how you had arrived at your answer? (Again, ask for a real paraphrase.)
Now polish and edit your style by moving to smaller matters such as word choice, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. You may already have passages that you know need further work. This is where you can use computer programs (with care) and reference material such as handbooks and handouts. Here are some tips
- Read passages aloud to see if you have achieved the emphasis you want. Look for places to use short sentences to draw attention to key ideas, questions, or argumentative statements. If you can’t read a sentence all the way through with expression, try cutting it into two or more.
- Be sure to use spell check. It will help you catch most typos and many wrongly spelled words. But don’t let it replace anything automatically, or you’ll end up with nonsense words. You will still have to read through your piece and use a print dictionary or writer’s handbook to look up words that you suspect are not right.
- Don’t depend on a thesaurus. It will supply you with lists of words in the same general category as the one you have tried-but most of them won’t make sense. Use plain clear words instead. Use a print dictionary and look up synonyms given as part of definitions. Always look at the samples of usage too.
- Don’t depend on a grammar checker. The best ones still miss many errors, and they give a lot of bad advice. If you know that you overuse slang or the passive voice, you may find some of the “hits” useful, but be sure to make your own choice of replacement phrases. A few of the explanations may be useful. But nothing can substitute for your own judgement.
A Note on Appearance:
Looks do count. Give your instructor the pleasure of handling a handsome document-or at least of not getting annoyed or inconvenienced. These are the basic expectations for any type of assignment
- Include a cover page giving the title of your paper, the name of the course, your name, the date, and the instructor’s name. Don’t bother with coloured paper, fancy print, or decorations.
- Number your pages in the top right-hand corner. Omit the number for the first page of your paper (since it will be headed by the title), starting in with 2 on the second page.
- Double-space your text, including indented quotations, footnotes, and reference lists. Leave margins of one inch (2.5 cm) on all sides of the page.
- Use a standard font in twelve-point size. For easier reading, don’t right-justify your lines.
- Put the reference list or bibliography on a separate page at the end. (See the handout on Standard Documentation Format: choose your format, then use the examples as guides.)
- Staple your pages; don’t use a bulky binding or cover.
Rewriting is the essence of writing well—where the game is won or lost. —William Zinsser
What this handout is about
This handout will motivate you to revise your drafts and give you strategies to revise effectively.
What does it mean to revise?
Revision literally means to “see again,” to look at something from a fresh, critical perspective. It is an ongoing process of rethinking the paper: reconsidering your arguments, reviewing your evidence, refining your purpose, reorganizing your presentation, reviving stale prose.
But I thought revision was just fixing the commas and spelling
Nope. That’s called proofreading. It’s an important step before turning your paper in, but if your ideas are predictable, your thesis is weak, and your organization is a mess, then proofreading will just be putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. When you finish revising, that’s the time to proofread. For more information on the subject, see our handout on proofreading .
How about if I just reword things: look for better words, avoid repetition, etc.? Is that revision?
Well, that’s a part of revision called editing. It’s another important final step in polishing your work. But if you haven’t thought through your ideas, then rephrasing them won’t make any difference.
Why is revision important?
Writing is a process of discovery, and you don’t always produce your best stuff when you first get started. So revision is a chance for you to look critically at what you have written to see:
- if it’s really worth saying,
- if it says what you wanted to say, and
- if a reader will understand what you’re saying.
What steps should i use when i begin to revise.
Here are several things to do. But don’t try them all at one time. Instead, focus on two or three main areas during each revision session:
- Wait awhile after you’ve finished a draft before looking at it again. The Roman poet Horace thought one should wait nine years, but that’s a bit much. A day—a few hours even—will work. When you do return to the draft, be honest with yourself, and don’t be lazy. Ask yourself what you really think about the paper.
- As The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers puts it, “THINK BIG, don’t tinker” (61). At this stage, you should be concerned with the large issues in the paper, not the commas.
- Check the focus of the paper: Is it appropriate to the assignment? Is the topic too big or too narrow? Do you stay on track through the entire paper?
- Think honestly about your thesis: Do you still agree with it? Should it be modified in light of something you discovered as you wrote the paper? Does it make a sophisticated, provocative point, or does it just say what anyone could say if given the same topic? Does your thesis generalize instead of taking a specific position? Should it be changed altogether? For more information visit our handout on thesis statements .
- Think about your purpose in writing: Does your introduction state clearly what you intend to do? Will your aims be clear to your readers?
What are some other steps I should consider in later stages of the revision process?
- Examine the balance within your paper: Are some parts out of proportion with others? Do you spend too much time on one trivial point and neglect a more important point? Do you give lots of detail early on and then let your points get thinner by the end?
- Check that you have kept your promises to your readers: Does your paper follow through on what the thesis promises? Do you support all the claims in your thesis? Are the tone and formality of the language appropriate for your audience?
- Check the organization: Does your paper follow a pattern that makes sense? Do the transitions move your readers smoothly from one point to the next? Do the topic sentences of each paragraph appropriately introduce what that paragraph is about? Would your paper work better if you moved some things around? For more information visit our handout on reorganizing drafts.
- Check your information: Are all your facts accurate? Are any of your statements misleading? Have you provided enough detail to satisfy readers’ curiosity? Have you cited all your information appropriately?
- Check your conclusion: Does the last paragraph tie the paper together smoothly and end on a stimulating note, or does the paper just die a slow, redundant, lame, or abrupt death?
Whoa! I thought I could just revise in a few minutes
Sorry. You may want to start working on your next paper early so that you have plenty of time for revising. That way you can give yourself some time to come back to look at what you’ve written with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s amazing how something that sounded brilliant the moment you wrote it can prove to be less-than-brilliant when you give it a chance to incubate.
But I don’t want to rewrite my whole paper!
Revision doesn’t necessarily mean rewriting the whole paper. Sometimes it means revising the thesis to match what you’ve discovered while writing. Sometimes it means coming up with stronger arguments to defend your position, or coming up with more vivid examples to illustrate your points. Sometimes it means shifting the order of your paper to help the reader follow your argument, or to change the emphasis of your points. Sometimes it means adding or deleting material for balance or emphasis. And then, sadly, sometimes revision does mean trashing your first draft and starting from scratch. Better that than having the teacher trash your final paper.
But I work so hard on what I write that I can’t afford to throw any of it away
If you want to be a polished writer, then you will eventually find out that you can’t afford NOT to throw stuff away. As writers, we often produce lots of material that needs to be tossed. The idea or metaphor or paragraph that I think is most wonderful and brilliant is often the very thing that confuses my reader or ruins the tone of my piece or interrupts the flow of my argument.Writers must be willing to sacrifice their favorite bits of writing for the good of the piece as a whole. In order to trim things down, though, you first have to have plenty of material on the page. One trick is not to hinder yourself while you are composing the first draft because the more you produce, the more you will have to work with when cutting time comes.
But sometimes I revise as I go
That’s OK. Since writing is a circular process, you don’t do everything in some specific order. Sometimes you write something and then tinker with it before moving on. But be warned: there are two potential problems with revising as you go. One is that if you revise only as you go along, you never get to think of the big picture. The key is still to give yourself enough time to look at the essay as a whole once you’ve finished. Another danger to revising as you go is that you may short-circuit your creativity. If you spend too much time tinkering with what is on the page, you may lose some of what hasn’t yet made it to the page. Here’s a tip: Don’t proofread as you go. You may waste time correcting the commas in a sentence that may end up being cut anyway.
How do I go about the process of revising? Any tips?
- Work from a printed copy; it’s easier on the eyes. Also, problems that seem invisible on the screen somehow tend to show up better on paper.
- Another tip is to read the paper out loud. That’s one way to see how well things flow.
- Remember all those questions listed above? Don’t try to tackle all of them in one draft. Pick a few “agendas” for each draft so that you won’t go mad trying to see, all at once, if you’ve done everything.
- Ask lots of questions and don’t flinch from answering them truthfully. For example, ask if there are opposing viewpoints that you haven’t considered yet.
Whenever I revise, I just make things worse. I do my best work without revising
That’s a common misconception that sometimes arises from fear, sometimes from laziness. The truth is, though, that except for those rare moments of inspiration or genius when the perfect ideas expressed in the perfect words in the perfect order flow gracefully and effortlessly from the mind, all experienced writers revise their work. I wrote six drafts of this handout. Hemingway rewrote the last page of A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times. If you’re still not convinced, re-read some of your old papers. How do they sound now? What would you revise if you had a chance?
What can get in the way of good revision strategies?
Don’t fall in love with what you have written. If you do, you will be hesitant to change it even if you know it’s not great. Start out with a working thesis, and don’t act like you’re married to it. Instead, act like you’re dating it, seeing if you’re compatible, finding out what it’s like from day to day. If a better thesis comes along, let go of the old one. Also, don’t think of revision as just rewording. It is a chance to look at the entire paper, not just isolated words and sentences.
What happens if I find that I no longer agree with my own point?
If you take revision seriously, sometimes the process will lead you to questions you cannot answer, objections or exceptions to your thesis, cases that don’t fit, loose ends or contradictions that just won’t go away. If this happens (and it will if you think long enough), then you have several choices. You could choose to ignore the loose ends and hope your reader doesn’t notice them, but that’s risky. You could change your thesis completely to fit your new understanding of the issue, or you could adjust your thesis slightly to accommodate the new ideas. Or you could simply acknowledge the contradictions and show why your main point still holds up in spite of them. Most readers know there are no easy answers, so they may be annoyed if you give them a thesis and try to claim that it is always true with no exceptions no matter what.
How do I get really good at revising?
The same way you get really good at golf, piano, or a video game—do it often. Take revision seriously, be disciplined, and set high standards for yourself. Here are three more tips:
- The more you produce, the more you can cut.
- The more you can imagine yourself as a reader looking at this for the first time, the easier it will be to spot potential problems.
- The more you demand of yourself in terms of clarity and elegance, the more clear and elegant your writing will be.
How do I revise at the sentence level?
Read your paper out loud, sentence by sentence, and follow Peter Elbow’s advice: “Look for places where you stumble or get lost in the middle of a sentence. These are obvious awkwardness’s that need fixing. Look for places where you get distracted or even bored—where you cannot concentrate. These are places where you probably lost focus or concentration in your writing. Cut through the extra words or vagueness or digression; get back to the energy. Listen even for the tiniest jerk or stumble in your reading, the tiniest lessening of your energy or focus or concentration as you say the words . . . A sentence should be alive” (Writing with Power 135).
Practical advice for ensuring that your sentences are alive:
- Use forceful verbs—replace long verb phrases with a more specific verb. For example, replace “She argues for the importance of the idea” with “She defends the idea.”
- Look for places where you’ve used the same word or phrase twice or more in consecutive sentences and look for alternative ways to say the same thing OR for ways to combine the two sentences.
- Cut as many prepositional phrases as you can without losing your meaning. For instance, the following sentence, “There are several examples of the issue of integrity in Huck Finn,” would be much better this way, “Huck Finn repeatedly addresses the issue of integrity.”
- Check your sentence variety. If more than two sentences in a row start the same way (with a subject followed by a verb, for example), then try using a different sentence pattern.
- Aim for precision in word choice. Don’t settle for the best word you can think of at the moment—use a thesaurus (along with a dictionary) to search for the word that says exactly what you want to say.
- Look for sentences that start with “It is” or “There are” and see if you can revise them to be more active and engaging.
- For more information, please visit our handouts on word choice and style .
How can technology help?
Need some help revising? Take advantage of the revision and versioning features available in modern word processors.
Track your changes. Most word processors and writing tools include a feature that allows you to keep your changes visible until you’re ready to accept them. Using “Track Changes” mode in Word or “Suggesting” mode in Google Docs, for example, allows you to make changes without committing to them.
Compare drafts. Tools that allow you to compare multiple drafts give you the chance to visually track changes over time. Try “File History” or “Compare Documents” modes in Google Doc, Word, and Scrivener to retrieve old drafts, identify changes you’ve made over time, or help you keep a bigger picture in mind as you revise.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.
Elbow, Peter. 1998. Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process . New York: Oxford University Press.
Lanham, Richard A. 2006. Revising Prose , 5th ed. New York: Pearson Longman.
Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.
Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.
Zinsser, William. 2001. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction , 6th ed. New York: Quill.
You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill