Revising Your Draft
Given all the time and effort you have put into your research paper, you will want to make sure that your final draft represents your best work. This requires taking the time to revise and edit your paper carefully. You may feel that you need a break from your paper before you revise and edit it. That is understandable, but leave yourself with enough time to complete this important stage of the writing process. In this section, you will learn the following specific strategies that are useful for revising and editing a research paper:
- How to evaluate and improve the overall organization and cohesion
- How to maintain an appropriate style and tone
- How to use checklists to identify and correct any errors in language, citations, and formatting
Revising Your Paper's Organization and Cohesion
When writing a research paper, it is easy to become overly focused on editorial details, such as the proper format for bibliographic entries. These details do matter. However, before you begin to address them, it is important to spend time reviewing and revising the content of the project.
A good research paper is both organized and cohesive. Organization means that your argument flows logically from one point to the next. Cohesion means that the elements of your paper work together smoothly and naturally. In a cohesive research paper, information from research is seamlessly integrated with the writer's ideas.
When you revise to improve organization, you look at the flow of ideas throughout the essay as a whole and within individual paragraphs. You check to see that your essay moves logically from the introduction to the body paragraphs to the conclusion, and that each section reinforces your thesis. Writers choose transitions carefully to show the relationships between ideas for instance, to make a comparison or elaborate on a point with examples. Make sure your transitions suit your purpose, and avoid overusing the same ones.
Jorge's Research Paper
Jorge reread his draft paragraph by paragraph. As he read, he highlighted the main idea of each paragraph so he could see whether his ideas proceeded in a logical order. For the most part, the flow of ideas was clear. However, he did notice that one paragraph, his paragraph immediately following his introduction, did not have a clear main idea. It interrupted the flow of the writing. During revision, Jorge added a topic sentence that clearly connected the paragraph to the one that had preceded it. He also added transitions to improve the flow of ideas from sentence to sentence. Read the following paragraphs: the first example is Jorge's first draft without any changes, and the second paragraph shows his revisions:
College sports provide a lot of entertainment in the United States. This entertainment is regulated and sponsored by NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and its a non-profit organization. NCAA regulates around 400,00 student athletes and 1000-member institution. The NCAA consists of basketball, football, baseball, hockey and many kinds of sports. however, NCAA makes the most money is in basketball (man's and women’s) and football. While NCAA gets their money from the revenue of tournaments, colleges wall get some of the revenue but colleges make money using other ways. For example, college football use many ways to make money. “Football programs are able to generate a great deal of revenue through gate receipts. Football game day attendance is also an excellent proxy for other revenues. Teams with a large fan base are able to generate more apparel sales, get invited to bigger bowl games, and are able to negotiate larger sponsorship deals.” Mark D. Groza, paragraph 3). This will make college get more money. Texas A&M makes the highest revenue of 192.6 million dollars a year. However, ever year the college with highest revenue changes.
In many parts of the United States, Saturday afternoon means college football in the Fall, and college hoops in the Spring, but many viewers may not know how much money the players of these sports generate for the NCAA and their schools. The players are officially designated as "student-athletes" by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), a non-profit organization that regulates around 40,000 student athletes and 1000 member institutions. Most of those member institutions receive funds from the gate receipts, and much of their money comes from television and other sponsorship and licensing deals. For example, according to the economist Mark D. Groza, Texas A&M makes around 192.6 million dollars a year (Groza para. 3).
When you revise to improve cohesion, you analyze how the parts of your paper work together. You look for anything that seems awkward or out of place.
Revision may involve deleting unnecessary material or rewriting parts of the paper so that the out-of place material fits in smoothly.
In a research paper, problems with cohesion usually occur when a writer has trouble integrating source material. If facts or quotations have been awkwardly dropped into a paragraph, they distract or confuse the reader instead of working to support the writer's point. Overusing paraphrased and quoted material has the same effect.
Understanding cohesion can also benefit you in the workplace, especially when you have to write and deliver a presentation. Speakers sometimes rely on cute graphics or funny quotations to hold their audience's attention. If you choose to use these elements, make sure they work well with the substantive content of your presentation. For example, if you are asked to give a financial presentation and the financial report shows that the company lost money, then funny illustrations would not be relevant or appropriate for the presentation.
Exercise: Close Reading for Revision
- Read your paper paragraph by paragraph.
- Highlight your thesis and the topic sentence of each paragraph.
- Using the thesis and topic sentences as starting points, outline the ideas you presented, just as you would do if you were outlining a chapter in a textbook. Do not look at the outline you created during prewriting. You may write in the margins of your draft or create a formal outline on a separate sheet of paper.
- Next, reread your paper more slowly, looking for how ideas flow from sentence to sentence. Identify places where adding a transition or recasting a sentence would make the ideas flow more logically.
- Review the topics on your outline. Is there a logical flow of ideas? Identify any places where you may need to reorganize ideas.
Exercise: Assessing Citations
Read the body paragraphs of your paper.
Each time you come to a place that cites information from sources, ask yourself, "What purpose does this serve?" Check that it helps support a point and that it is clearly related to the other sentences in the paragraph.
Identify unnecessary information from sources you can delete.
Identify places where you need to revise your writing so that readers understand the significance of the details cited from sources. Skim the body paragraphs once more, looking for any paragraphs that seem packed with citations. Review these paragraphs carefully for cohesion. Review your introduction and conclusion. Make sure the information presented works with ideas in the body of the paper.