Revision as a Phase of the Writing Process

What Revision Is

There is no single definition of revising in academic writing. Some scholars consider it to be just another stage of the writing process. In fact, there are three of them, and revising is the final one, while the other two are prewriting and writing. Others treat revision as any changes made by an author to the draft with an aim of ensuring the text meets certain criteria, for example, the author's personal expectations or, which is more objective, professor's paper requirements.

How to Revise

Many students think of revising as of editing and proofreading. It means that in case of a necessity to revise, a student is likely to just improve grammar, correct punctuation, verify spellings, and refine some sentences. At the same time, revising requires more efforts and a higher degree of changes, in particular, rewriting of some passages, adding and deleting some sections, deepening research, replacing sources, introducing new ideas, etc.

How Students' Revising Skills Can Be Developed

There are a number of strategies that professors might apply in order to cultivate revising skills in their students. First, a professor should not make students spend more time on revising as it is useless, but he/she definitely needs to get involved. Second, guiding questions, not specific comments with the instructions of what to replace with what are indeed useful and lead to the desired outcome. The comments, in turn, are distracting and make students focus on a grade rather than the primary purpose of writing. So, questions or, for instance, writing activities targeted at elevating specific skills and solving concrete problems should be applied.

Furthermore, positive criticism, publication, and flexibility could help. Concentrating on good and well-articulated ideas could give a student a taste of what he/she does well and what is expected of him/her. Next, a publication of a work in a newspaper, magazine, blog, newsletter, etc., or its oral presentation motivates students to provide a more high-quality works because of the potential exposure and thus revise paper more thoroughly. A publication is an extremely helpful tool in this regard. Finally, the absence of rigid deadlines when it comes to revision is beneficial since it encourages students to increase the extent of the revision.

 

Applying Software for Revising

Even though revising might be a lot easier when the text-to-be-changed is in electronic format rather than written down in handwriting, there is no scientifically proven correlation between the quality of revision and the application of a computer. At the same time, a vast usage of computers indeed increases the instances of revising. Still, neither a computer in general nor specific software will assist a student in revising well and going beyond mere correcting of obvious mistakes unless he/she is guided by a teacher who talks not about problems in certain parts of the text but rather the paper as a whole. Such an approach prompts students to deal with papers holistically and thus reveals them the idea behind the writing process.

Revision – What Is It?

A revision is not a problem, if you know what it is. Usually, it is one of the last steps in writing: you will create an outline, a draft, and then a revision of the draft. A revision can also be described as a process of refining the initial draft to meet the original requirements for the paper.

What Does It Mean?

It is better to explain what a revision is not. It has nothing to do with editing. If you are correcting grammar and spelling mistakes, it is not revising. If you are using a spell check in your word processing software, you are not revising the paper. You are editing it. You are proofreading the draft.

Now stop and think about what a revision actually is. It is a long and enduring process, when you review what you have written (or someone else has) and redesign the text to make it more congruent, coherent, logical, and so on. If you go to the library and find textbooks on academic writing, you will find their advice on making revisions to be empty and useless. For example, you may read something like “avoid redundancy”. What is it? How does it look? You cannot know. However, you can know how to make your text better, clearer, and more understandable for the reader.

So, to revise your paper, one of the first things is to take a break. Keep at a distance from your text. Take yourself away from it. You need to come back with a fresh look. For example, you can finish the draft in the evening and start revising it in the morning. If you can, you can leave your draft behind for a few days. Focus on something different. Forget about it. Do not think about it all the time. When you are back, you will see what needs to be revised to make the text better. You can do it as many times as needed, until the text looks perfect.

It is difficult to teach people how to revise texts. Writers may have difficulty revising their own texts, because they stick to words and sentences. They may be reluctant to get rid of the things that they think a perfect, even if they are unnecessary and redundant. Still, it is an inevitable part of the job. Cutting sentences, removing and replacing words and word combinations with better ones, redesigning sentences to make them great again, and so on – everything is okay, as long as it helps you in creating a brilliant text.

Why Is It So Important to Revise Texts?

When writing a text, you will almost certainly need to refine and improve it, after the first draft is finished.

Therefore, take revision as a chance to understand

  • If everything you have written relates to the topic
  • If the words and sentences in your text express what you meant to say
  • If the text is understandable to your reader.

Now, how do you revise the text?

  • As mentioned previously, take a distance. Put the text aside. This way, you will be in a better position to look for inconsistencies and misconceptions in your writing.
  • Ask someone else to provide their feedback. You are the writer, and you are not the most objective person to evaluate the quality of your text. Why not ask someone else to look into it? Imagine that this is your target audience. Take the reaction seriously and follow advice to revise the text.
  • Develop an outline for your paper. What is the main idea you are trying to articulate in each paragraph? How do they flow? Do you use transitions as a link between your ideas?
  • Look at your thesis. Is it brief and informative? Do you see how it is supported throughout the paper, or maybe you need a different thesis? Do you restate the thesis in the concluding paragraph? Check it.
  • Now that you have refined the argument and thesis, you need to look better into the introduction and conclusion. Do you see any unnecessary information there? Do you need any additional evidence or background information to support the point?
  • Finally, you can proofread the draft. Check the language you are using. Ask someone else to read the text aloud. Your revision is completed!

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