Once you have your first draft, it will require revision. To determine what needs reworking, read the entire paper. What works? What doesn't? Now, get more specific. Working through paragraph by paragraph, ask yourself the purpose of each in terms of the thesis.
During the revising part of the writing process, you have the opportunity to step back from your text and make changes so readers can more clearly understand. When you are revising you are making sure your information is well organized, appropriate and complete. This is your opportunity to remove unnecessary text, rearrange paragraphs, or add sections or paragraphs. You may even find it necessary to do more research for a particular part of your paper. That is all part of the process.
Revise for content first. If you have received a rubric for the assignment, take some time to look it over next to your paper to make sure you have fulfilled all the requirements. Do not do any other revisions until the content revision is complete. Ask yourself the following questions. If your answer to any of these questions is no (or even maybe), focus on developing or revising your content before moving on.
- Explained why I conducted this research?
- Clarified how this research fits into other research?
- Given all necessary details?
- Reported results?
- Confirmed the logic of my reasoning and inference?1
Next, revise for organization. After you feel comfortable with your content, consider the organization of your draft. See Revising for Organization to learn strategies for improving the structure of your paper and the logical presentation of your ideas.
Finally, focus on the surface level. After you've revised for content and organization, turn your attention to the surface level of your paper. In this final stage of revision, you should look for ways to improve the clarify, consistency, and correctness of your writing on the level of the sentence and word. Edit for grammar, word choice, correct citations, and similar errors in this stage. Use the following list to fine-tune your language.
Improve clarity and consistency by:
- incorporating strong, active verbs
- replacing nominalizations (nouns made from verbs) with strong verbs
- reducing "there are" and "it is" constructions
- deleting excessive and unnecessary phrases (I believe, in other words, etc.)
- replacing vague words with precise words or phrases
- reducing wordiness
- maintaining appropriate tense
- using parallel structure
1These revision tips incorporate suggestions from Donald Zimmermann and Dawn Rodrigues's Research and Writing in the Disciplines. (Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publisher, 1992.)