How to Edit a Paper | Academic Research Edition
Academic papers are a staple in every academician’s and researcher’s life, helping them write better, enhancing their research competencies, and helping them come up with logical arguments and explanations to support their ideas and research.
Editing, on the other hand, helps researchers introspectively look at their academic papers and how they present their information. Additionally, editing makes the paper easier to understand, allows researchers to tailor it to the specific audience or journal of their choice, and ensures they remain organized in their writing.
Find out how to prepare your academic paper for editing with a simple checklist, and follow five detailed steps to correctly edit your paper below. Stick around until the end, where you’ll learn about how Orvium steps in to make editing a breeze.
Simple Checklist for Assessing Your Paper
Once you complete a draft of your academic paper, you need to review the draft. It can sometimes be challenging to assess what you wrote because you spent so much time researching and working with your text. However, you must ensure that you communicate intentionally and present your ideas in a logical way, going beyond simply checking your work for spelling mistakes or grammar issues.
Furthermore, academic papers are often rejected for various editorial reasons, such as not conforming to the writing style of a particular journal or incomprehensible writing. To (hopefully) avoid rejection and submit an error-free paper, it’s crucial that the editing process is smooth and thorough.
Follow this simple checklist to ensure your paper is ready for editing:
- You wrote the thesis in one clear statement
- You provide enough adequate background information on the topic of your paper
- Each paragraph links back to the thesis in some way
- You introduce, state, support, and discuss within each paragraph
- You use a variety of reliable resources to support your ideas
- The conclusion summarizes the main ideas of your paper and lets readers know there’s more to come
- You use a professional, straightforward tone throughout the paper.
5 Detailed Steps for Editing Your Paper
Important note: editing is not a “one-and-done” type of process; you want to read through your paper multiple times before you can consider it being done.
1. Give Yourself Time Before Editing
By giving yourself some time away from your paper after you’ve finished writing, you’re allowing yourself to reset and refocus to make your next read-through more effective. When you return to your paper, you’ll be able to see it with a pair of “fresh eyes” to pick up on areas that need editing, areas that you may have missed had you not waited.
Ideally, you’re waiting at least an hour between finishing your paper and editing; a day or two is better, depending on any deadlines.
2. Start with the Structure
The first time you read through your paper, be very intentional in looking over its overall structure, organization, and flow. Ask yourself important questions, such as:
- Are sentences clear and uncluttered?
- Do you have transitions that help paragraphs flow smoothly and logically?
- Do you have a structured flow to each sentence within each paragraph?
- Does each sentence have a consistent tone and style?
Additionally, ensure you don’t have run-on sentences and that paragraphs are easy to follow. They must be packed with information, but not volume. Another crucial step in editing is avoiding fluff, especially if you have a specific word count. In this case, it’s better if you have less writing that’s substantial than more writing that’s repetitive or filled with fluff.
3. Eliminate Unnecessary Wording
Unnecessary words can include
- “Big” words
- The wrong adjective, synonym, etc.
- Overly complex words
- Words that provide no additional meaning to your sentences (totally, like, very, etc.).
Avoiding or eliminating unnecessary words can elevate your paper, won’t confuse the reader or editor, and helps you watch out for similar mistakes in future papers (and even become a better peer-reviewer for others).
Additional tips to keep in mind while editing:
- Use strong verbs in your sentences to entice the reader to read more
- Use active voice instead of passive voice
- Use commas correctly
- Don’t use exclamation points (or use very few only if it’s vital)
- Provide attribution when using quotes (or ask for permission to use them)
- Ensure citations are formatted correctly
- Use appropriate vocabulary for your topic
- Maintain the appropriate verb tense throughout your paper.
4. Read Aloud
Don’t rely on a spell-checker for your academic paper because it may be unreliable. It’s best to read your paper aloud at least once or twice, as you may be able to catch misspellings or things that you missed in the first few rounds of editing. Consider asking a friend or colleague to read it out loud for you.
If you want to take your paper through a spell-checker after, try Grammarly.
5. Involve a Friend or Colleague
You’ve already written, re-written, read, and reread your paper; it’s time to reach out to a friend, mentor, advisor, colleague, or another researcher in your field to read over your paper. Peer review can highlight any additional misspellings or mistakes within your paper.
Pro tip: it’ll save your editor some time if you complete the four previous steps prior to handing them your nearly finished paper.
Encourage your editor to go through a small list of questions, similar to those you went through in the first rounds of editing:
- What are the author’s main points or topics of the paper?
- Does each point provide sufficient support?
- Is the paper easy to follow and read (are the tone and flow appropriately)?
- Are there any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors?
Remember not to be discouraged if your reviewer returns your paper with many revisions; they’re trying to help you succeed and become a better writer. However, not all of their suggestions may apply or be accurate, so take the necessary time to review their suggestions.
Orvium Helps Your Editing Skills
There aren’t shortcuts to a well-written paper, and a well-written paper isn’t a promise that it’ll be published in a journal. However, one thing is for sure, and that is that editing is always worth your time.
Orvium helps make editing even more worth your time by simplifying the entire publication process and helping you engage with a whole community of researchers that can further assist you in the editing process. Additionally, if you decide to become a reviewer, you can get economic and profile incentives on our platform.