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Product or company names, logos, and trademarks referred to on this site belong to their respective owners. For some, editing can feel like a negative experience, after the relatively creative and positive process of writing:. For others, editing can feel more positive than writing, because they know that this is a stage where they can really raise the standard of their work.
Some positive points about editing are:. One way of separating the processes of writing and editing is to do them in different places. Print out your writing, so that you can do the editing work on hard copy, away from the computer e.
How to Write a Research Paper – A to Z of Academic Writing
When you are editing away from the computer, it is important to make full notes of any improvements that occur to you. Effective editing will invariably require a number of sweeps through the work, and a series of drafts. An example of an editing plan is provided below. It may be tempting to work paragraph by paragraph, trying to perfect each one before attending to the next.
This is, however, neither an efficient nor an effective method for editing a large document. Several of the processes, e. This relates to the essence of academic writing. It needs to be your main editing focus.
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And will take the most time. Academic journals publish the criteria they use to evaluate articles, and these can be useful in guiding the process. There may also be detailed guidance available within your own department. Firstly , on a broad level, it can be very helpful to ask these two deceptively simple questions:. The first part asks what you are trying to do, and the second asks whether you consider you did it. Both parts of each question are essential. You may not need to prove that you did everything that you intended to, but you do need to show that you are clear about what you intended to do, and that you are fully aware of how your eventual research related to your initial plans, and why there may be some discrepancies.
Is editing the same thing as proofreading?
Addressing this question closely and thoroughly will take you through a review of the rationale for your research; the methods chosen; how they were employed; and a critique of how things went. When you are deeply involved in your research, and know about it in great detail, it can be very easy to think that you have explained something, only to find that important, and basic, elements of the explanation are missing. So, while it is important to ask What am I trying to say?
It is essential to add Do I say it? Secondly , you need to ensure that you have provided a well-supported and clear thread of logical reasoning throughout your thesis. You need to check that your sections are arranged in an order that will present your reasoning most effectively. Take a step back from your detailed writing, and create an outline of a straightforward, logical structure you could use for your thesis.
- Understand the Purpose of the First Draft.
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An effective way to do this is to explain aloud, to a friend, or alone but using a tape recorder, in as logical and clear a way as possible:. If your friend takes notes, or if you tape-record the explanation, you can use the record to produce a coherent outline for your structure. Then read through your writing thus far, and produce an outline of the structure that you have actually used. Ideally, you will be able to adopt the role of an awkward reader of your own writing. The aim is to make sure that all the claims you make are either supported or removed.
If you can read your own work with a provocative and questioning attitude, it will help you to identify the places where you need to provide more evidence for your statements and interpretations.
You may have spent time describing an aspect of context, theory, practice, or experience that you now decide is not directly relevant to your main argument or research study. However attached you feel to that bit of writing, you do need to be ruthless in removing it. This is good practice in all academic writing, but is particularly useful when you need to reduce your number of words. Initially it is best not to think too much about word limits. Later however, as you edit, you will see many examples of redundancy where you can remove words, phrases, paragraphs, and even whole sections, to improve the coherence and logical flow of your writing.
If you worry about losing material that you might want to bring back, you can keep it temporarily in a reserve file, rather than delete it completely. Another way to reduce redundancy, and to increase clarity, is to write in the active rather than the passive tense e. This second example introduces the question of whether it is acceptable to use the voice of the researcher in the first person i. It is essential to seek advice within your academic field about this. It may even be possible to ascertain the views of your particular thesis examiner.
It is becoming more acceptable to write in the first person, particularly in the social sciences. A general guide is to use the third person routinely but, where there is a decision to explain, it is acceptable to take clear responsibility for that decision by using the first person at that point.
Editing and Proofreading - The Writing Center
This can be demonstrated with the example of giving details of a methodology. It would read awkwardly if every element were to be described in the first person e. I set up the apparatus, then I prepared the recording sheet. I added the first element then I waited for it … etc etc.
Styles are changing in this area, and they currently vary across disciplines, so it is important to check preferences in your own field regarding the balance between use of the first and third person. A thesis is a large document, written over time, so it is almost inevitable that problems may occur with consistency. The kinds of elements to review for consistency are:. Signposting and linking are particularly important in a long document such as a thesis. The reader has a lot of information to take in, and is unlikely to read the whole document in one go.
It is in your own interest to help the reader construct and maintain a coherent picture of the research you are describing.
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