Advice for Revising Research Papers

Ask yourself these questions as you read over the first draft of your paper. The answers to most of these questions can be found by reading your first draft out loud.

  1. What point do I want to make in the paper? What is my major reason for writing it?
  2. Have I said clearly the thing I want most to say?
  3. What information does not contribute directly to my main point(s)?
  4. How long must a reader read before knowing what my subject is? Can I get into my subject more quickly than I do?
  5. Have I left muddled sentences in my draft? Can I make sentences clearer?
  6. Should I alter my choice of words—using words which more precisely convey meaning? (Try using a thesaurus.)
  7. Can I simplify sentences, maybe by eliminating some words, e.g. unnecessary adjectives?
  8. Am I guilty of using clichés, tired old expressions that have been used so much that they have lost the power to be vivid? (Examples include “means the world to me” and “would give the shirt off his back.”)
  9. Does my text flow easily from one idea to another?
  10. Is my conclusion adequate? Does is provide a graceful end to my paper?
  11. Is my reference page sufficient when it comes to acknowledging my sources?

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Quotes

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“When you are writing you must assume that the next thing you put down belongs not for reasons of logic, good sense, or narrative developments, but because you put it there.”
- Richard Hugo