Lecture 9Revising, Editing, Proofreading, and Finalizing Your
Outline1. The Quality of Good Writing2. Making your writing
coherent through revising3. Making your writing clear through
editing4. Proofreading Your Thesis5. Tips for Good Writing6.
Finalizing Your Thesis7. Guidelines for Oral Defense
1. The Quality of Good Writing
The standards of a good thesis are:Clarity in presentation of
the ideas in appropriate grammar and in the use of
vocabulary.Accuracy: To express your ideas precisely and exactly.
Avoid ambiguity.Fluency: smoothly flowing ideas through unity and
coherence. Avoid broken sentences or abrupt switch of
ideas.Correctness in grammatical matters.
Good writers make changes in wording and presentation of ideas
as they write. That is one kind of revision. Another kind of
revision comes after the first complete writing or first draft of a
work. Then you may add, delete, or rearrange words and ideas. Even
if you were writing from a satisfactory outline, you may find that
when the whole research paper is finished, there are parts that
would fit better in place than in another.
Revision is another chance to look at what youve written and
change it, to make it most precisely convey your intentions to your
audience. In fact, writing is often described as a messy process
because of constant revision.
2. Making your writing coherent through revising
When you revise, you should focus your attention on content and
organization of your graduation thesis. Leave language and formats
to editing. Do not expect immediate perfection; and do not try to
accomplish everything all through one reading. When you revise,
check the following questions.
General questions are:Does your graduation thesis focus, and
adequately support your thesis statement?Does your graduation
thesis have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion?Have you
organized your graduation thesis logically and clearly in
structure?Have you used transitions throughout to connect the ideas
into a coherent whole?
Questions about IntroductionWill the introduction engage your
readers attention?Does the introduction present your thesis
statement clearly?Does the introduction include some background
information for your topic?
Questions about BodyDoes the body of your thesis present
evidence from a wide variety of reliable sources?Are materials from
your sources presented in a combination of summary, paraphrase, and
quotation?Are there any gaps in your argument? Are there any points
that are inadequately supported?Have you deleted all unnecessary or
irrelevant materials from your thesis?
Questions about ConclusionDoes your conclusion summarize the
main points that you have presented in support of the thesis?Did
you repeat the major argument, or restate your thesis in the
conclusion of your thesis? Does your conclusion have a satisfactory
sense of completion? (Are all the loose ends tied up? Have all the
parts of the thesis been supported? Have you addressed all those
most likely questions about the topic?)
Questions about StyleHave you achieved variety in style by using
different kinds of sentences?Have you avoided wordiness? Have you
deleted unnecessary words, phrases, or clauses?Have you used clear,
concrete examples? Have you defined key terms?Have you avoided
colloquial language, slang, jargon, and dialect in your thesis?
Have you avoided first-person pronouns in the thesis?
3. Making your writing clear through editing
When you edit, you should focus your attention on language and
format of your graduation thesis. When you work on language, you
should pay attention to word choice, sentences, and writing style.
You should be able to discover the imprecision of your thesis and
make your thesis convey clearly and concisely what you want to
3.1 Word Choice and Perspectives on SentencesThe writing style
and intelligence of your thesis could be indicated through the
wording in your thesis. When you write your thesis, you need to
convey to the reader your expertise in the subject area and your
professional attitude toward it. In word choice, avoid being too
chatty or conversational. Use serious and intelligent vocabulary.
Avoid using Clichs, Jargon, Euphemisms, Pretentious Language,
Sexist Language, and Chinese English.
(2) In sentence structure, try to write sentences that are more
varied and complex in structure. Write with style, but make certain
it is a style appropriate for a thesis.
Avoid sentence fragmentsOriginal: The owner went to chunch.
Leaving me in charge of the store.Revised: The owner went to
chunch, leaving me in charge of the store.Original: Along with
population explosion many problems occurred. For instance, natural
resources, education, etc.Revised: Along with population explosion
many problems occurred, for instance, natural resources, education,
Avoid run-on sentences Original: Human nature is seldom as
simple as it appears hasty judgment are therefore often
wrong.Revised: Since human nature is seldom as simple as it
appears, hasty judgment are therefore often wrong.Original: We had
no lack of entertainment during the time which we spent in the
city, which seemed very gay and attractive.Revised: The city seemed
so gay and attractive that we had no lack of entertainment during
our stay there.
Avoid dangling phrases (A dangler is an error so called because
it is an element unrelated to any word in a sentence. Though it may
appear in any part of a sentence it usually occurs at the
beginning. Since the subject in the sentence with a dangler is not
the subject for the action described by the dangler, the way to
correct this kind of error is either to supply a subject or to
change the dangling phrase into a clause.)
Original: Opening the door, an amusing scene caught my
eye.Revised: Opening the door, I saw an amusing scene.Original
After reading the letter, my heart throbbed violently.Revised:
After reading the letter, I felt my heart throbbing violently. or
After I had read the letter, my heart throbbed violently. Original:
To be admitted to college, the entrance examination must be
passed.Revised: To be admitted to college, a candidate mustpass the
Avoid the comma fault (the use of comma in place of a period, a
semicolon, a colon or a dash.)Original: It was raining hard, they
could not play basketball outside. Revised: It was raining hard and
they could not play basketball outside. or: Because it was raining
hard, they could not play basketball outside.
3.2 Edit your thesisFor clarity in presentation of the ideas in
appropriate grammar and in the use of vocabulary; For variety of
shape, organization, strategy and vocabulary. In writing a thesis,
you may use different ways or methods of development of chapters or
Variety Is the Spice of Writing. To make an essay more
interesting for your reader, you should try to vary your choice of
words as much as possible. You should particularly include
sophisticated vocabulary that indicates your intelligence and
expertise. To help increase the variety of your word choices, you
can use a thesaurus --- a special dictionary that compiles synonyms
of words. When you edit your paper, look for any words that are
repeated many times, especially within the same paragraph. You can
then look the words in the thesaurus and select alternatives.
For symmetry , balance and parallelism. The requirement for
parallelism is not only a grammatical one, but a logical one as
well. The headings at the same level of the outline have equivalent
importance and refer to similar categories of ideas.For economy:
Academic research writing is judged on a standard of economy of
expression: you should use as many words as you need, but no more
than you need to accomplish your goal. Everything should be part of
the main effect. No word should be wasted. Every excessive verbiage
should be eliminated during revision.
3.3 Recognizing ImprecisionTwo major characteristics of
imprecise writing are ambiguity and wordiness. (1) Ambiguity is
often characteristic of and purposeful in literary works:
doubleness or multiplicity of meaning may well be part of the
thematic aim of a poem or story. But ambiguity is not desirable in
research paper, even though a critical essay may be about ambiguity
in a literary text. Simply stated, you dont want you reader to
wonder what your point is or choose among possible or implied
Ambiguity is often the result of vague language --- that is,
references that need specification to make the interpretation
meaningful. No word is inherently vague but words can be used in
vague ways. To make writing more precise, you need to develop an
eye for words and phrases that invite specificity in your
particular interpretive context.
Original: In the article it points out that the air pollution
ofthis city is serious.Revised: It is pointed out in the article
that the air pollution of the city is serious. Or:The article
points out that ....Original: The water supply in this area is
scanty; they should do something to ease it.Revised: The water
supply in this area is scanty; the government should do something
to ease the situation.Original: Jane told her friend Ann that she
had won a scholarship.Revised: Jane told her friend Ann, I have won
Original: The student used some mixed metaphors in his
composition, which the teacher disapproved of.Revised: The teacher
disapproved of the students use of mixed metaphors in his
composition.Original: The novelist spent most of his time writing,
but none of them was published during his lifetime.Revised: The
novelist spent most of his time writing, but none of his novels was
published during his lifetime.
(2) Wordiness is the use of more words than are necessary to get
your point across accurately and efficiently. But wordiness is not
really measured by quantity; a sentence does not become wordy
simply by exceeding a certain number of words. Relatively short
sentences can be wordy, and very long sentences are not necessarily
wordy; it depends on the precision, and therefore the efficiency,
of the language.In many instances, wordy phrases are made up of
several weak or static words that can be replaced by one or two
strong, exact words. The result is more energetic, forward-moving,
and precise writing.
Original: The narrator gives a suggestion to all people as to
their attitude toward and perceptions of the land....Revised: The
narrator suggests that mans attitude toward and perception of the
land Original: Her private world is apparently representing the
season of spring, for the narrator is showing us the image of
flowers.Revised: Her private world apparently represents spring as
the flower imagery suggests.
Original: The niece is told three times by Aunt Minnie about the
major event. Each time her point of view is changed and the event
is thought of differently by her.Revised: Aunt Minnie tells her
niece three times about the major event. Each time her point of
view and therefore her attitude toward the event change.
Original Science can have a way of making the beautiful easily
explained, and by taking the mystery out of something the beauty
can be somehow lessened. Edgar Allan Poes poem, Sonnet: To Science
is written in this vein.Revised Poes poem, Sonnet: To Science
suggests that science easily explains and therefore diminishes the
mysterious and beautiful.
Original: During the final three lines, the poem can be
interpreted on a different level. It can be seen as a foreshadowing
of sorts. It serves as a warning of what happens when man is overly
concerned with the fear of nonexistence. Revised: The final three
lines of the poem possibly foreshadow what happens when the fear of
nonexistence preoccupies man.Original: Her understanding of the
relationship between men and women has changed enough for her to
realize that she doesnt have to lie to herself to keep herself from
feeling guilty for natural feelings.Revised: Understanding the
relationship between men and women enables her to realize that she
need not deceive herself to avoid feeling guilty.
3.4 Writing ConciselyA typical graduation paper is 5,000 words
or more. It will probably be the longest ever written. Unless you
guard against it, you may unconsciously pad sentences, expressing
ideas in as many words as possible in order to reach the prescribed
minimum. Wordiness is a sure way of losing a readers attention.
If asked to read 100 words to find an idea that could have been
expressed in 40 words, your tutor is likely to lose his patience
and you are likely to lose your scores. In editing your draft,
substitute specific words for general ones. Concentrate on the
nouns and verbs, if they are specific, fewer modifiers will be
needed. An especially annoying form of wordiness is the superfluous
modifiers whose meaning is implied by the noun or verb it
a true fact basic fundamentalsa free gift foreign importsfuture
prognosis green in colorunanimous agreement a beautiful morning by
everyone sunrise in the eastin close proximity eight oclock a,m,
that morningreverted back followed behind
Verb-object combinations can also be wordy:made a decision =
decided reached an agreement = agreedexpressed a denial = denied
made a request = requestedventured an attempt = tried granted
permission = permitted
In revising your paper, be alert for bloated expressions like
the following:at no time = never at the conclusion of = afterat the
time that = when at this point in time = nowdue to the fact that =
because during the time that = while
3.5 Check-Questions:Do transitions enable the reader to move
easily from one section of the paper to another and to see clearly
the relationship between the sections?Are the quotations smoothly
woven into the text?Can lengthy quotations be eliminated or
shortened by using ellipses?Can they be clarified by inserting a
few of your own words in brackets?Is the reference information
4. Proofreading Your Thesis
When you finish your first draft after revising and editing, it
is time to proofread it. Proofreading is the process of checking
your thesis for errors in spelling, grammar, usage, level of
language, capitalization, punctuation, and documentation.
Proofreading is a tedious process. However, it is important. A
carefully proofread thesis indicates a professional and serious
attitude to the reader. Therefore, you should make the final copy
of your graduation thesis flawless, without any mistakes or
The following checklist will help you to proofread your
thesis.Spelling errorsMixed up homophones (Words that sound the
same but are spelled differently)Incorrect word usageSentence
fragmentsRun-on sentencesCitation formatAmbiguous references and
pronouns (especially it, that, this, these, and
Comma usageCheck to see that ellipsis points have been used
properly in edited quotations.Check all titles to make sure that
they are properly presented.Quotations (make sure that they are
accurate)Quotation marks (make certain all quotations have
quotation marks at the beginning and end of the quoted
section)Apostrophes used correctly (especially with possessive
nouns and contractions)
CapitalizationPunctuationCheck every sentence to make sure that
it has an end mark. If the sentence contains a parenthetical
citation, make sure that the citation appears before the end mark,
except in the case of a long, indented quotation, which ends with
an end mark followed by the parenthetical citation.Consistent verb
5. Tips for good writing
Respect Yourself and Your Ideas Your ideas are the most
important part of your thesis. You should have spent time and
effort to develop sophisticated, smart ideas. As you write, you
want to work to make those ideas as clear and interesting as
possible. After writing your essays first draft, you should
therefore concentrate on your writing style, aiming to convey ideas
clearly and in an appropriate and interesting style.
Striving for Clarity When you write, try to make your thesis
easy to read by having a well-balanced structure; logical
organization, and coherent writing.
Avoid Common Grammatical Errors In language, avoid sentence
fragments, run-on sentence, ambiguous references, dangling
modifiers, split infinitives, tense choice, wordiness, and spelling
Say It With Style Every piece of writing has its own distinctive
style. The style reflects the manner in which something is written
and depends on such factors as the choice of words, the sentence
patterns, and the way in which ideas are introduced. An essays
style indicates the writers attitude toward the material, and
signals to the reader how to respond.
For example, the style can indicate if a paper is serious,
sarcastic, humorous, or silly. When you write your thesis, you need
to use a sophisticated, intelligent style. In so doing, you convey
to the reader your expertise in the subject area and your
professional attitude toward it. Avoid being too chatty or
conversational. Use serious and intelligent vocabulary and write
sentences that are more varied and complex in structure. Write with
style, but make certain it is a style appropriate for a thesis. Let
your writing indicate intelligence and sophistication, without
being too highbrow or convoluted.
Do It Your Way Developing your own style as a writer takes time.
You need to discover a voice in which you are comfortable
expressing yourself that also conveys a particular impression to
your intended audience. At first, strive primarily for clarity;
work at conveying your ideas as clearly and directly as possible so
that the reader can learn and understand what you have to say. The
more you read and write, the more you will gain a sense of various
writing styles --- and begin to develop your own.
6. Finalizing Your Thesis
After proofreading you can prepare your final manuscript. It is
extremely important that you turn in your thesis by the required
due date. That means you should leave yourself plenty of time to do
all of the writing and printing of the final version at least a day
before the thesis is due. When you finally assemble your thesis
together into its final form, please read and follow the guidelines
6.1 Guidelines for Manuscript Form: Graduation ThesisGeneral
guidelines. Print your thesis, using one side of the paper only.
Use small 4-font size for thesis, and use 5-font size for longer
quotations. Margins. Use one-inch margins at the top, sides, and
bottom. Page numbers. Number the thesis and the bibliography, using
Arabic numerals (1,2,3, and so on). Number the preliminary section,
using small roman numerals. Spacing. Double-space the entire paper,
including headings, titles, quotations, and text paragraphs.
Heading.Do not leave a single line of heading at the bottom of a
page.Indentions.Indent paragraphs in your thesis four spaces from
the left margin.Quotations.If the quotation is three lines long or
less, put it in quotation marks and place it in the text of your
thesis. For longer quotations, indent and set it off from the text
of your thesis.Paragraphs.Do not leave a single line of a paragraph
at the bottom of a page.
Bibliography.Begin on a new page for your bibliography. Arrange
all the entries by the alphabetical order of the family names.
Placement and spacing of bibliography.Double space after the title
and then begin the first entry. Have double space between all
entries and single space within entries. Begin each entry from the
left, and indent subsequent lines 4 spaces from the left
margin.Binding and Presentation.Bind your thesis using the special
covers from your school. Use the paper of the same size with the
cover when you print your thesis. Turn your thesis in before the
required due date.
6.2 Checklist for the final draftBefore you turn in your thesis,
run down the following list of questions. If you make certain to do
everything on this list, you are more likely to turn in a quality
Are my topic, thesis statement, and general approach clear to
the reader?Have I proven my thesis statement beyond the shadow of a
doubt?Have I made my argument fully and persuasively?Does every
paragraph in the thesis clearly relate to the thesis statement?Does
every paragraph in the thesis center on a single point that is
clear to the reader? Do paragraphs and sentences flow together?
Have I included transitions that connect sentences and paragraphs
Have I supplied all of the information a reader needs to
understand all of my points? Have I anticipated any questions a
reader might have and included the answers within the thesis?Have I
cut out any excess words, sentences, or paragraphs that dont
contribute anything substantial to the thesis? Have I varied my
word choices?Have I altered my sentence patterns?Have I used all of
the words correctly and in the right context?
Have I proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation
errors?Have I cited all quoted and paraphrased sections? Have I
used the proper citation format? Have I included a bibliography
written in the proper format?Have I typed up a clean, final copy?
Is it double-spaced and stapled together? Does each page have a
page number and my name? Have I included a title, and other
information on the title page?Have I made an extra copy of the
thesis to keep?
7. Guidelines for Oral Defense
Thesis defense is usually taking place in oral format. Your
thesis will be read by a group of committee members. Then, you are
asked to present your final paper to the committee and answer their
questions. Here are some guidelines about how you can prepare for
your oral defense effectively.
Talk to your tutor and get his/her evaluation and revise your
thesis before you circulate your thesis to the other committee
members.Read your completed thesis after you turn it in and be
familiar with its structure, contents, research method, major
findings and major argument. Usually you will be given 5-10 minutes
to explain your thesis briefly. Ask your tutor how long it will be
and prepare accordingly.
Prepare your presentation either in ppt format or written form.
Your focus should be (1) Define your topic or scope of your paper
briefly; (2) Your research method or perspective of your analysis:
(3) Your major research findings or argument. Be ready to support
your argument with clear, brief and convincing examples or
evidence.Think about the questions the committee will ask and
prepare your answers in advance. Work with your friends or
classmates and see how you will respond to the main objections of
alternative argument or counter-argument.
In the defense itself, be confident and relaxed as best you can.
Listen to committee members specific questions and present your
answers to the point. Please speak clearly and in normal speed and
not to talk too fast. In case you are not clear what they are
asking about, just say Pardon, and let them repeat or explain their
If you do not have the ready answer to the difficult questions,
do not feel panic. You can either say something related to the
issue, or give them a broad smile and say I dont know and you are
ready to learn.Sometimes some committee members may make comments
on your thesis or suggestions for improve your research. You need
not have to defense at this moment and should respond politely with
gratitude for their suggestions.
Finally, Thesis defense is NOT seeking to fail students
graduation thesis. It is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your
understanding of your research topic and share your argument with
your professors and students. Sometimes professors would like to
challenge you with a difficult question or counter argument to
create a mood of debate and argumentation. Then, do your best, join
them and have fun.
Finally, Good luck to your thesis writingGood luck to your oral
defenseGood luck to future studies/workEnjoy your undergraduate
life at Shandong University