Writing a Research Paper
Revision

Revision

Now that you have written your first draft, you need to edit and revise it, so that you will have an excellent final copy.

Editing your draft

To edit your draft, you need to eliminate any spelling and grammatical errors and improve your diction (choice of words).

Spelling errors

You certainly don’t want to submit a paper that has any spelling errors. Use the spell check on your word processor to check your document for spelling errors.

Caution: Before you add any new words to your personal dictionary in your word processor, you should check a reputable online dictionary to confirm the spelling. Otherwise, words that are spelled incorrectly in your research paper will not be detected. Just because you think a word is spelled a certain way does not make that spelling correct.

Also, you need to be aware that some words are spelled differently in Canadian (British) English and American English. For example, colour is standard in Canadian (British) usage but color is standard in American usage. Be consistent with your spelling throughout your paper.

Be aware that the spell check will not detect the incorrect use of words like affect and effect. You might have the correct spelling, but you could have used the wrong word.

Grammatical errors

Check for any grammatical errors in your paper by using the grammar check on your word processor. However, never accept the correction that the grammar check offers unless you know the reason for the change. Sometimes the grammar check will indicate an error when there isn’t one. In other words, don’t automatically accept the change that the grammar check offers.

Diction

Diction is the choice of words that you use in your paper. Your diction should reflect the level that you are at in your academic life. The diction for a university or college student will certainly be different from that of a high school student. Also, the diction for a freshman will be different from that of a senior. In other words, the higher up the academic ladder you are, the more advanced your diction should be.

Use a thesaurus to improve your vocabulary. For example, you could use the word detrimental instead of harmful, or you could use cognizant instead of aware, depending on your academic level.

However, be very careful that you do not use “bigger” words just for the effect. They must be a natural part of your research paper and should not be there to try to impress your reader. Artificial usage will detract from your paper.

Use the thesaurus in your word processor to assist you in finding synonyms to use. However, never use a word that you find in a thesaurus unless you know what it means and the context in which it should be used.

Revising the draft

To revise the draft, you need to check for unity and coherence in your draft. Also, you need to provide variety in your sentences to prevent monotony.

Unity

Unity means that your research paper is not dealing with any irrelevant information. All the information in your paper must deal with your topic, or your paper will lack unity. In other words, there should not be a sentence in a paragraph that does not relate to the other sentences. All the sentences should be there to prove your thesis, not to fill in space.

Paragraph lacking unity

Note the sentence which destroys the unity of the following paragraph.

Anyone can learn to put more punch into his paragraphs. This may be done by using descriptive phrases to create vividness for the reader. The model paragraph that the teacher read to the class had vivid description. Secondly, the writer could use a wide and varied range of transitional devices to make his paragraph coherent and to make his sentences flow smoothly together. The writer could also use various methods of development, such as supplying details and examples, to create emphasis. Finally, the writer should create unity throughout the paragraph by making his sentences relate to the topic sentence. By following these points the writer should be able to create an effective paragraph.
Coherence

Coherence means that the ideas in your research paper flow smoothly. To achieve coherence, you need to provide connectives in your paragraphs to link your sentences so that the flow from one sentence to another is natural.

Paragraph without connectives
Anyone can learn to put more punch into his paragraphs. This may be done by using descriptive phrases to create vividness for the reader. The writer could use a wide and varied range of transitional devices to make his paragraph coherent and to make his sentences flow smoothly together. The writer could use various methods of development, such as supplying details and examples, to create emphasis. The writer should create unity throughout the paragraph by making his sentences relate to the topic sentence. By following these points the writer should be able to create an effective paragraph.
Paragraph with connectives
Anyone can learn to put more punch into his paragraphs. This may be done by using descriptive phrases to create vividness for the reader. Secondly, the writer could use a wide and varied range of transitional devices to make his paragraph coherent and to make his sentences flow smoothly together. The writer could also use various methods of development, such as supplying details and examples, to create emphasis. Finally, the writer should create unity throughout the paragraph by making his sentences relate to the topic sentence. By following these points the writer should be able to create an effective paragraph.

Sentence variety

If you do not provide variety in your sentences, your paragraphs will be monotonous. You can achieve variety in your sentences in the following ways:

Begin a sentence with a prepositional, gerundial, participial or infinitive phrase
Prepositional phrase
During the long drive to work, Jonathon had time to plan his day’s activities.
Gerundial phrase
After driving the long distance to work, Jonathon felt his energy level was low.
Participial phrase
Driving to work in the morning, Jonathon had time to plan his day’s activities.
Infinitive phrase
To plan his day’s activities, Jonathon took the long route to work.
Begin the sentence with an adjective or an adverb
Adjective
Desperate and weary, the traveller tried to find accommodations for the night.
Adverb
Slowly the old man walked down the icy sidewalk.
Use an appositive phrase
Mrs. Smith, the principal of the high school, has great rapport with the staff and the students.
Begin a sentence with a subordinate clause
Because he was late for class, the student was given a detention.
Though the student was exhausted, he continued studying for his exam.
Use a simple sentence, a compound sentence, a complex sentence, or a compound-complex sentence.
Simple sentence
The young lad entered the abandoned building.
Compound sentence
The young lad entered the abandoned building, but he was too scared to climb the stairs.
Complex sentence
Even though the young lad was scared, he climbed the stairs to another level.
Compound-complex sentence
Even though the young lad was scared, he climbed the stairs to another level, but he stopped when he heard a noise.
Occasionally use an exclamatory sentence or a question (if it is appropriate).
Exclamatory sentence
What a disgrace that the government did not help the flood victims!
Question
Did the government offer any financial assistance to the flood victims?
Separate the subject and the predicate by phrases or clauses
Phrase
The football player, despite his size, was formidable on the field.
Clause
The students who had high scores during the year did not have to write the final examination in the course.
Use short, medium, and long sentences for variety
Short
His attempt to rescue the drowning boy was successful.
Medium sentence
By using the spare tire that was in his car, the driver was able to rescue the drowning boy.
Long sentence
As soon as the driver realized that the swimmer was in trouble, he removed his spare tire from the trunk of the car and pushed it into the water towards the boy.

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