In this Issue
Letters to the Editor
Write to Us
Spread the Word
word of the month
Tips for the CD-ROMs
Academic Writing: Editing Your
Writing and Seeking Feedback
Academic Writing tasks aim to find out how well you can research a topic, argue a point of view, evaluate evidence, and organize your thinking. In this series on Academic Writing I would like to provide general advice about different aspects of academic writing and what resources you can use for more specific advice.
Editing is the process you go through when revising drafts of your essay. It can take a long time so you need to include proofreading and editing in your timetable. All essays need revising at least once. It is easier to proofread a printed page than text on a computer screen.
One way you can check your sentence structure is by reading the text from the bottom up to the top. This may help you focus on the sentences rather than on the content of your essay. Read your text aloud to yourself or to a friend to find errors in sentence structure, word choice, and logic. When you want to rephrase a sentence, you could try writing three versions of the same sentence to help clarify what you want to say. For example:
To avoid overusing words and expressions and to ensure variety in your writing, note expressions as you read that you can use and then consult your dictionary to find out what they mean.
Look at these sentences. What is wrong with them?
The words in bold type are incorrect. The first should have the verb manage in the gerund form managing, while the second should read would have had.
Develop a checklist of mistakes you commonly make when
writing an essay and use this list to help you check though your essays,
concentrating on one problem area at a time. There are many books that
deal with grammar problems. A couple of these are listed in the Further
What is wrong with these two sentences?
In the first sentence, musuem should read museum. In the second, instructors should read instructor's. Spelling and punctuation errors distract readers. Computer spellcheckers can be useful tools but look out for differences in American/British spelling, words such as there/their and its/it's, and words that are not in the computer's dictionary. Double-check your essay for errors yourself.
Having drafted your essay, ask one or two people to read it and tell you what they think. Make sure that they know your essay topic, are aware of what kinds of comments you want, and are prepared to be honest.
When you receive feedback:
When you receive a piece of writing back from being marked, go through and look at any of the written feedback and note points that you think will help you with the next piece of academic writing you do.
Here is a selection of Web sites and books that will tell you more about academic writing and grammar.