4. Revising the Draft

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!).

Peer Review

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

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