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One of the hardest things ever is to correct your own work -- especially if you can’t put a space of time between when you write your paper and when you check it. Sometimes though, as fate frowns on us, we have no choice. In this article I’ll show you some good paper editing practices either on your own, or through peer editing.
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Paper Editing with Help
Teachers and professors are an endless well of help and they are often in the job because they want to help. If you have an instructor offering to look over a draft of your paper do not pass up the opportunity.
If your teacher or professor refuses, I don’t know of a single reason why you can’t run your idea (thesis) by the instructor and ask what he or she thinks. The worst that happens is you’ve wasted a few minutes of your life, but most likely you will gain some useful information.
Peer editing is something that may be set up by your teacher or professor, or may be set up by the school. If you’re in college, look for editing tables, but with a caveat: these editors are often fellow students, they may be right in their editing choices, but they could also be wrong.
This is your paper. There’s no rule saying that you must apply the changes that a peer suggests.
Friends and Family: They may not be the rulers of Grammar World, but they can tell you if your paper reads smoothly and is easy to understand. Try them out.
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Paper Editing On Your Own (Such a sad and solitary world for the lone writer)
Peer editing is always preferable because it’s very hard to check your own work. Peer editing, however, is not always possible, hence, the need for self-editing.
Always give yourself some time between writing and editing. Never edit a paper immediately after you have written it. Wait overnight, and if you can, put a couple days between writing and editing. Putting as much time as possible between when you write and when you edit gives your brain a better chance at catching any mistakes.
What to Check for When Self-editing
Typos – Do not under any circumstances let Internet and texting jargon work its way into an academic paper. I cannot be nice about this. I don’t care what you have to do to stop this, but don’t let it happen. This is especially why peer editing is helpful.
Grammar – When it comes to paper editing, you can never know too much. The rules for formal writing of an academic paper never seem to end. Use grammar to make sure your point is clear.
Clarity - Make sure each sentence has a purpose that points to the main idea of your paragraph. Watch out for commas and combining sentences that need to be separated – that’s a terrible and unforgivable way to confuse your readers.
Transitions – You have one main point: your thesis. You have a few supports that make your thesis valid. Because you want all of this to work as a cohesive whole, you need transitions to make one paragraph flow with the next. Behold this wonderful example I whipped up for you.
Want more information on writing coherent transitions? Click your heart out.
Paragraph Structure: In each paragraph you want to have the following:
- The supporting point
- An example from the text
- One of the following: (1) your now educated opinion; (2) something you learned in class from instructor led discussion or peer groups.
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Where You Should Be Now
In this article you have learned all about paper editing, be it on your own, or through peer editing.
If you’ve been playing along from the pre-writing series and into this series, like a good sport, you have:
- taken notes in your book or in a notebook
- talked about your book in class
- reviewed and revamped your notes accordingly
- have turned those revamped notes into an outline by picking a key points and a few supports
- turned that outline into a rough draft by expanding on a thesis and supporting material taken from your outline
Here you have taken your rough draft and have made it pretty with some editing for structure, typos, grammar, and transitions so that the paragraphs flow smoothly. You have done this paper editing either with some help from a friend, teacher or professor, or on your own.
You're almost done, and the last step is easy!
When you polish your rough, first draft, it magically turns into your second draft. In part three we’re going to make sure everything is tightened and perfect for a grade A on your paper.
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In part three, about the second draft, I’m going to tell you about passive and active voice, give you a couple of simple guides to make sure your sentences flow, and tell you about paragraph structure. You'll be learning all you need to know to take the rough draft you've written of your response paper and turn it into a complete second draft that you can turn into your teacher or professor.
In part four, the final part, I’m going to tell you all about plagiarism and how you can avoid it (this isn't as tricky as some people would have you believe). It’ll be such fun!
Paper Editing: Strategies You Can Use When Revising a Paper
This series will take you through the necessary steps to writing a thought-out response paper. You will learn how to turn your outline into a rough draft, how to edit your rough draft (becoming the second draft) and how to polish your second draft. Finally, an article on how to avoid plagiarism.