Reading a research paper is an easier task than writing it. So your professor already has the edge over you. And to add to this, he gets to evaluate and rate your research paper. Not the other way round. Easy job one would imagine. But remember, he perhaps has tens, if not hundreds of research papers to evaluate. Now, that's not easy, is it? So practically, your professor will only manage to skim through your paper and because he's the professor, he will probably know the content really well anyway. This means he doesn't really need to concentrate on the content to validate it. Even though it is your research paper, let us admit, he might have a better idea on how the perfect research paper
on your research would look like.
Here begins your problem. When someone knows the content so well, the little faults creep up through the cracks - lack of proper flow, missing content, wrong sources quoted, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and redundancy will stare right out. To ensure these are sorted out, it becomes imperative that you edit your research paper after you finish writing it.
Through this article, I wish to give you eight tips, on how to do the editing better, so that your research paper stands out among the crowd.
Tip 1: Finish writing much before the deadline
Finishing to write your research paper much in advance, gives you ample time to edit. And trust me, editing
requires a lot of time and effort. Most students believe editing to be a boring job. It isn't, if anything, it can be fascinating once you understand how to go about it. Firstly, you got to forget what you wrote. Sounds a little strange, but unless you read your research paper from a third party perspective, you will never find those little faults. And to forget, you need time. So take a long break, a few days even, before you start editing the research paper.
Tip 2: Read and make notes
The tendency is to correct every mistake you find, whether it is around the context setting or the central idea or a simple spelling error, the first time you come across it. This is regarded as a reaction than a response. Do not break your flow till you are through with the paragraph. Then make quick notes on what seemed odd to you - do this in crisp bullet points than long sentences. And consciously ensure you are only noting down the issues, not the solutions or corrections. Where possible, just highlight the word, phrase or sentence that seemed incorrect. Follow the same methodology till you reach the end of the research paper.
Tip 3: Organization of Ideas
Now that you have read through the paper, check if your ideas are organized in the right way throughout your work. Since it is a research paper, you would've followed the scientific approach of fact and evidence, and wherever possible, an analogy to explain the concept better. This can often leave the ideas disconnected and in a disorganized state that it becomes difficult to the reader or the evaluator to follow your paper. Ensure the central idea of the paper is stated clearly and the supporting ideas are following the central idea.
Tip 4: Continuity
Having verified that the ideas are well organized, the next step is to ensure a good flow is maintained from idea to idea, from evidence to evidence, from paragraph to paragraph. If ideas are broken and disconnected, it breaks the flow and the research paper looks clumsy. The ending sentence of one paragraph must transition smoothly into the first sentence of the next. If you ensure this, then the meaning will flow through to the reader and the pace of grasping the content will be uniform, which will make the paper easy to understand and follow.
Tip 5: Keep it concise
It is a misconception that bigger papers earn better grades. The purpose of a research paper is to present your work to the reader by putting across the concepts, facts, evidences and illustrations in a simple and crisp manner, so that the idea drills into the mind and the reader is not lost in a deluge of words. Check for redundancy, as its presence can confuse the reader and break the flow easily. The reader can also lose interest if there is too much redundancy, which, in your case can mean a bad grade.
Tip 6: Grammar, Spellings and Syntax
There is nothing more annoying to the reader than a glaring spelling error or a silly grammatical blunder, there is nothing more annoying to a professor than an incorrect formula or a bad illustration. Text editing tools like Microsoft Word and Google Docs will help to a large extent on spelling and grammatical errors but don't rely on them completely. Check for spelling errors manually because in your context the use of word 'life' may mean the purpose explained, while the word 'wife' used in its place can lead to a total disaster, the difference being just a single character spelling error. Also, look for areas where wrong punctuation can change the entire meaning of a sentence as with 'Kill him, not spare him' versus 'Kill him not, spare him'
Tip 7: Document Sources
It is important and crucial to mention your document sources. It is understood and totally acceptable that you utilize the research work already done on the topic to leverage the basis for your research and hence it is expected that you will quote some of the information from earlier researches done. However, not quoting the sources can lead to trouble, if the evaluator spots a complete idea taken from elsewhere and doesn't find the source mentioned, worst case being, the evaluator himself or herself, is the original contributor to the source.
Tip 8: Read Again
Once all the changes are completed, it is a good idea to take a longish break and read through the research paper one final time. You can now enhance on the material by adding little finishing touches like adding a quote or a fancy illustration or an analogy where you feel, can add a little more depth to the content.
These eight tips form a good framework on how to edit a research paper, however, they stand for nothing on their own if the content is not good. Good content, great research, crisp writing and smart editing can define an excellent research paper that your professor will love to evaluate and perhaps even showcase on his desk.