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. Improve clarity and consistency
- 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
- Explained why you conducted this research?
- Clarified how this research fits into other research?
- Given all necessary details?
- Reported results?
- Confirmed the logic of your reasoning and inference?
Revise for organization. Now re-read the paper and look to
see if the organization is logical.
- Do you need to reorganize sections of the paper?
- Revise main points for clarity?
- Use headings and sub-headings for clarification?
- Delete material?
- Add material?
- Insert transitions to connect sections of the paper to the thesis?
If you are unsure of your paper's organization, it can be useful to create a reverse
outline. Do this by writing one - two word descriptors in the margin next to each
paragraph. Then you can step back and decide if the paragraphs move in a logical order,
or rearrange them until you are satisfied.
You can also take a print-out of your paper and cut apart all of the paragraphs and mix
them up. Next put them in the right order. If you are not sure where a paragraph goes,
consider revising or removing it. At this point you have the option of moving, deleting,
or adding sentences in order to ensure you have strong paragraphs.
Read each of the topic sentences. Then look to make sure that everything in that
paragraph directly relates to the topic sentence. Ask yourself if there is anything
you might say to make your point stronger.
Improve your organization by inserting transitional phrases or paragraphs, or by adding
clarifying and elaborating information.
Revise for coherence. Here you are looking to see that all the parts fit together
logically in a sensible and pleasing way.
Do you offer a road map of your paper in your thesis statement and
through your headings (if you use them)?
- Do you use smooth transitional sentences that lead from one topic to the next?
- Does the paper stay consistent within the various topics?
- Have you used pronouns and repetitions within paragraphs to indicate
continuation of the topic?
- Do you comment in the document about the significance of the information you have
introduced to your argument (especially direct quotations)?
Improve coherence by reading only the first and last sentences of each paragraph.
Do they move smoothly from one to the next? If not, revise them or add sentences to
accomplish that goal.1
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These 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.)