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Lecture 9 Revising, Editing, Proofreading, and Finalizing Your Thesis

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  • Lecture 9Revising, Editing, Proofreading, and Finalizing Your Thesis

  • 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 express.

  • 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, etc.

  • 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 entrance examination.

  • 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 paragraphs.

  • 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 meanings.

  • 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 a scholarship.

  • 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 modifies.

  • For example:

    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 presented correctly?

  • 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 incorrect information.

  • 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 those)Pronoun-antecedent agreement

  • 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 tense

  • 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 errors

  • 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 presented below.

  • 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 graduation thesis.

  • 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 together?

  • 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 questions.

  • 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