Useful research paper tips

It's important that you understand the difference between revising and proofreading. They are separate skills and both are vitally important. It is so disappointing for academics when reading research papers submitted by the students to find that despite so many good things the student has produced, they have fallen down on either revising or proofreading or both.

This is doubly disappointing because it does not take a great deal of time and effort to become good at revision and proofreading. Of course it helps if you are a good writer in the first place but it doesn't take much to hone your skills in these particular areas.

What do we mean by revising?

Let's assume that you have done all the right things in writing a research paper. You've chosen a good topic, you have it approved by your teacher or professor, you've come up with a brilliant thesis statement, you've examined a great deal of relevant research material and you've produced a detailed plan or outline. Now what can possibly go wrong?

If you have done all the above steps and then written with speed, you will definitely need revising. You write with speed because you have all the information in the plan at your fingertips and you simply let the words flow. This is a good way to write and this is a recommended way to write. But two things will eventuate by this quick writing. You will make spelling and grammatical errors and we'll talk about those later in proofreading tips.

But you will also repeat yourself. You may also spend more time on a minor point rather than a major point. You may also go off the subject and talk about something which is irrelevant. These are all faults in your writing but which can be eradicated if you know how to revise.

One practical piece of advice as far as revision is concerned is to put some time between the end of your first draft, the time when you wrote very quickly, and the time when you start the revision. You need to refresh your mind. You need to avoid the situation where you can't see the wood for the trees.

Then you start the revision process and you do so working through a checklist. Is there any repetition? Have I strayed from the topic? Do the sentences flow one into the next? Have I concentrated on a minor point as opposed to a major point? By working through this checklist as you read your research paper, you are in a much better position to carry out effective revision. And don't be afraid to get feedback from anyone. Listen to what they say and if you believe what they say adjust your writing accordingly or stop

What do we mean by proofreading?

Here we are talking about the nuts and bolts of your writing. Here we are talking about your spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax. Now of course every word processing piece of software will have an inbuilt checking device on these sorts of things. You need to make sure that the version of English you are writing in corresponds to the correction technique in software. But do not make the mistake of relying completely on the inbuilt correcting mechanism. It is a machine. It is not infallible. So by all means work as hard as possible to research and write well but give plenty of time and thinking to the business of revision and proofreading. They may not be the main part of your paper but they can certainly make a difference to the score you receive.