The process of writing includes drafts and revisions. After writing the rough draft, let it sit at least 24 hours. Then re-read it, moving material around to better support your claims and deleting material that is superfluous or confusing. Let it sit. Read it again, this time line-by-line like a copy editor, examining grammar and word choice. Let it sit. Finally, proofread (spell check doesn’t know the difference between new and knew!).
In a peer review, students exchange papers, reviewing with a constructive critical eye. Use this checklist (not exhaustive!):
- Is the subject introduced early and clearly?
- Are the subjects to be addressed introduced early and concisely?
- Does the paper have a clear beginning – middle – end?
- Do paragraphs have unity: in other words, is there only one idea in each paragraph?
- Does each paragraph relate to the thesis?
- Are the transitions between paragraphs, ideas and sections smooth?
- Are sources relevant to the argument?
- Are sources integrated well or do they appear “stuck on”?
- Are paraphrases clear?
- Are direct quotations clear and integrated into the text … or are there several sets of block quotations?
- Is one source used predominantly?
- Are sources presented sequentially or are they woven together?
- Is it clear when a source begins and ends?
- Does the conclusion support the thesis?
- Does the conclusion rest on the evidence presented in the body?
- Is the conclusion concise and clear?
- Is the conclusion convincing?
- Is the writing style appropriate or is it too conversational?
Common Errors To Fix At This Stage
- Sources are not integrated. In other words, the paper presents all material from one source … then all the material from another source. Good research involves blending ideas from many different sources.
- Lack of transitions, especially between sections. Examples of transition words or phrases: “as a result,” “consequently,” “on the other hand.”
- Using a quotation without explaining how it fits into your argument.
- Failing to cite sources. All information from all sources must be documented.
- Citing sources incorrectly. Most common error: lack of “access date” for electronic materials.
Prior: 3. Writing The First Draft
Next: 5. Polishing the Paper