The Revision Process
- Revision is not just proofreading; rather, revision involves looking at you paper on two separate, but equally important levels: globally and locally.
What on Earth does that mean? Global revision is, simply put, focused on the big picture. This is where you look at the structure of your paper and the evidence you incorporate. Have you given credit for all of the ideas that you borrowed from the scholars who have dedicated their lives to studying this thing you are trying to understand? Do your ideas make sense in the order in which you've presented them? Do you explain key concepts and theories used to make your claim? University of Arizona provides students with this handy checklist, which I think is pretty simple and easy to understand:
- Have I fulfilled the needs of the assignment?
- Who is my audience? Am I writing in a style appropriate for that audience?
- Do I convey the purpose and context of my paper in the introduction?
- Have I included a highly specific thesis?
- Why have I organized my paper the way I have? Is there any logic to it? How could I make the organization more progressive or sequential? If not, how have I organized my argument for maximum effectiveness?
- Do I use topic sentences that show clear transitions from one paragraph to the next? Do my paragraphs stay focused on the one idea I present in my topic sentence? Does the closing sentence of each paragraph emphasize the purpose of the paragraph and/or tie back clearly to the overall argument of the paper?
- Is my argument consistent? Do any of my paragraphs introduce a concept or argument I did not prepare my readers for? Do all of the paragraphs “hang together” (cohere)?
- How do I support my arguments? Do the examples I give in the paragraphs illustrate the point I want to make? Have I used quotations for good reasons, or am I just filling up the paper? Do I explain thoroughly what each quotation illustrates? Is most of my paper analysis of the examples I present, or have I quoted too much?
- Is my tone/voice consistent? Do I seem light-hearted in one place and deadly serious in another? Do I stay consistently in one tense (past or present) and point of view (third person)?
- Is my conclusion strong? Does it answer the question, “so what” by giving broader implications of the argument?
If you have answered yes to these questions, then it is time to move on to local revision, which deals with the technical aspects of the paper: grammar, sentence structure, and citations.