Editing as a Key to Successful Writing
These days, professors frequently complaint that students are incapable of writing a piece of paper that would take a breath away. However, the issues that deteriorate the quality of papers for the most part have nothing to do with content. They are connected with style, coherence, cohesion, and grammar. In other words, teachers think students have excellent ideas but cannot express them effectively. In fact, the problem is not is expressing but rather editing that is often either excessive or insufficient.
Of course, if to consult famous writers on this matter, they will probably disagree. They might say that an idea, be it expressed in a lengthy sentence or a short phase, is what matters. Sometimes, thoughts are presented incoherently on purpose in order to strengthen their impact on a reader. Thus, editing may ruin the concept created by an author. However, such things are not acceptable in academic papers. Ideas in academic writing should be clear for the audience and formulated in a way that leaves no room for speculations. Otherwise, it will not result in a high grade for a student or will be rejected by the scientific community in case a researcher writes the bad paper. Therefore, editing is crucial for writing in the academic setting. To stop suffering from the consequences of improper editing and submit only high-quality papers, use different techniques.
Techniques of editing papers:
- Reading out loud. This simple but extremely effective approach will allow identifying sentences that are redundant or awkwardly formulated. As a result, you will be able to delete everything that does not fit in with your paper.
- Adverbs control. In a descriptive piece of writing, adjectives and verbs are indispensable. However, in other instances, they may obstruct the meaning of a sentence and make the text difficult to perceive. Besides, they are often simply redundant. For example, “He whispered quietly.” Whispering implies talking not loudly, so the purpose of this modifier is not clear. Therefore, it is advisable to use adverbs only if it is necessary to emphasize the unusual manner of doing something, not to reach the word limit.
- Reading backwards. This technique is extremely helpful when it comes to spelling errors. You should just read sentence after sentence from the end. Of course, you will not spot the content-related issues, but not a single typo will hide from you. Moreover, the mistakes in terms of word order will be noticed.
- Be brief and succinct in writing. Sometimes, students think that the longer sentence is, the more convincing it is. Well, it is wrong. It is the quality and meaning of words, not their number, that matter. Short and straight-to-the-point writing is what is appreciated in the academic setting. With this idea in mind, remember to avoid unnecessary details, meaningless fillers, and repetition of the same statement in different words. Such things are the sign that you value neither reader’s nor your own time. Try to be specific is everything you say, and editing will not be burdensome anymore.
- Do not be in hurry. Surely, you are willing to end the writing process as soon as possible and usually start editing and proofreading right after putting the period at the end of the last sentence. However, the hasty editing will not yield positive results. You should have some rest and not read the paper for at least few hours. In such a way, when you check the paper again giving it a fresh look, you are likely to notice mistakes that otherwise would go unspotted. It concerns both grammar and content issues.
- Mind language. The language of an academic paper should comply with the standards of formal English. It means that you are not allowed to use jargon, slang, colloquialisms, and, of course, obscene words. To replace them, you may use thesaurus. You will surely find a suitable substitution there and, at the same, expand your vocabulary. The best option would be to stick to a journalistic style. It will help you not to sound bookish or boring to a reader but stay within the limits.
- Prove. An academic paper should not contain sentences that provide no useful information as well those that have unsupported claims. Ungrounded assumptions are not what professors are looking for. They want to see that students are able to prove own views. So, delete everything that seems baseless.
- Passive voice. Scan the paper and check all the instances where the word “to be” is used. It might mean that you have used the passive voice, which is not well perceived in academic writing. The reason for it being disliked is that constructions employing it sound unconvincing. Passive voice creates the atmosphere of uncertainty and impression that the author is incompetent. Simple sentences “Leg was injured” and “She injured her leg” illustrate the point. Although both phrases are similar in meaning, only the second sounds persuasive as it is clear what happened.
Find more useful information in article "Formatting"
The first editing attempts might be not very successful as it always takes time to become good at something. However, practice makes perfect, and, in this case, these are your papers that become as such. You will see and feel that your essays and research papers are better, and high grades and positive feedback from professors will prove that your efforts were not made in vain. Eventually, you will start enjoying editing as much as the audience will take pleasure in reading your edited texts.