Revising

Revision is the process of rereading and changing your work to make it more readable and logical. Revision relates only to ideas, not to punctuation and grammar. It is not proofreading. Proofreading and editing occur once the ideas in the paper are clear. Follow these suggestions:

  • Take a step back from your draft by putting your paper away for a day or two.
  • With fresh eyes, reread and criticise your entire paper. Assess the effectiveness of the thesis statement, topic sentences, support, transitions and the conclusions that you are making.
  • Consider the appropriateness and placement of your ideas:
    • You might remove entire sections that do not sufficiently support your position.
    • You may move your paragraphs around to create a logical transition between your ideas.
  • Revise your ideas, filling in the gaps in your logic.
  • Have a partner read over your work. If you are on your own, you can use a revision checklist.

Revision Checklist

Consider Your Purpose

  1. What was the original assignment?
    • Ensure that your paper relates to the topic you were assigned.
  2. Does it meet the target or objective?
    • Review the marking requirements provided by your instructor.

Consider Your Position

  1. Is your thesis easily identified?
    • Test your thesis statement using a simple phrase, such as “I will prove that…” and consider whether or not your paper proves that point. If it does not, the thesis may need to be rewritten. (Note: Do not leave this test phrase in your thesis statement)
  2. Do your topic sentences (main ideas) connect to your thesis?
    • Can you identify how the topic sentences connect to the thesis statement? If you cannot, the topic sentences may need to be rewritten to make the connection clear.
  3. Does each paragraph contain support that directly relates to the topic sentence?
    • Within each paragraph, there is a topic sentence that acts as the map for the paragraph, just as the thesis acts as the map for the entire paper. Therefore, each sentence must support the topic sentence.
    • When integrating research into a paragraph:
      • make a statement that relates to the topic sentence,
      • provide support in either the form of a paraphrase or direct quotation, and
      • explain how the support connects to the statement.
    • This pattern can be repeated as necessary throughout the paragraph.
  4. Are your paragraphs in a logical order?
    • You need to also consider the order of your paragraphs. Would they make more sense if you changed the order? If so, this is the time to make the move.
  5. Do you have logical transitions between your main ideas?
    • Transition sentences come at the end of a paragraph and provide a link between paragraphs. Effective transitions create fluidity in the writing. Consider the transition sentence like a bridge across a river. The bridge allows your reader to go quickly from one idea to the next, like the bridge allows you to go from one side of a river to the other.
    • When considering transitions, you need to look at whether your ideas are logically connected. If some paragraphs do not link logically to the preceding and following paragraphs, you need to make the connection clear and explicit by adding a transition. You are responsible for moving your readers logically through your paper and “across the bridge.”
  6. Does your conclusion summarize your main points and connect back to your thesis statement?
    • Read your conclusion as if it were your introduction. Consider whether or not your thesis statement is clear and your main points are evident. The purpose of your conclusion is to retell the audience the main ideas. There should be no new information in your conclusion, and it should be unforgettable!

Consider Your Audience

  1. Is your word choice interesting?
    • Word choice is key to making your message clear and appropriate for your audience. Reread your paper, and evaluate the following:
      • Which words create a strong response?
      • Which words are confusing or vague? Add in strong, concrete words. Omit or change unfamiliar words.
      • Which verbs are written in the past tense? Ensure that you are writing in the present tense.
  2. Are your sentences interesting?
    • Evaluate the quality of your sentences:
      • Highlight powerful sentences. This is the impression you want to make in the majority of your sentences.
      • Underline boring or weak sentences. Revise them by varying the length, changing the structure or word order, or modifying how you begin each sentence.
  3. Is your tone appropriate?
    • Tone is the attitude you have about your subject. For example, your tone may be persuasive, light-hearted, serious, or compassionate. It is important that your tone matches your audience and purpose.If you are writing a letter to a friend, you might choose to use slang, abbreviations and a joking tone. However, in a research paper written for your college instructor, your tone might be analytical and formal. In this instance, slang and abbreviations would be inappropriate. If your tone is not appropriate for your audience and purpose, look at revising your word choice and sentences to make your language choices more appropriate. This revision will improve the overall impact of your writing.
  4. Is your paper logical?
    • Your paper should be logically organized to take your audience from your thesis to your main ideas and support then to your memorable conclusion. Consider the following questions:
      • Does your introduction capture your audience’s attention? If not, how could you grab their interest? Maybe you could use a startling statistic, a thoughtful quotation, or a probing question.
      • Do the body paragraphs clearly relate to the thesis and each other? Revise to ensure there are no connections missing.
      • Is your conclusion memorable? If it ends abruptly or just vaguely touches on your main ideas, it is not effective. Compare it to your introduction and ensure that it follows through on the promise in your thesis statement and captures all of your main points. Leave your audience with something to think about after they finish reading your paper.


Sample Student Paper

Explore three revisions of a student paper on the following topic:

  • What is the impact of traditional ecological knowledge on environmental management?

Revisions are accomplished by reading through the paper out loud, multiple times.Observe how ideas in the introduction and first paragraph are elaborated upon, deleted, and moved. Also notice how changes are made to ensure that the message of each paragraph is well-supported and flows logically.

Revision #1

The first revision of the draft, may consider:

  • Is your thesis easily identified?
  • Do all of your paragraphs connect to your thesis with topic sentences?
  • Does each paragraph contain support that directly relates to the topic sentence?
  • Do you have logical transitions between your main ideas?

Introduction (with revisions highlighted)

The use of fire by native peoples to change ecosystems or portions thereof is almost universal [D1] (Steven Pyne World of Fire: The Culture of Fire on Earth from blm.gov website) When I watched the two videos Fires of Spring and Second Nature: Building Forests in West Africa's Savannas provide it portrayed two contrasting examples of how communities use fire .

In North America [D2] First Nations communities have long used landscape burning to clear land, enhancing the growth of desired plants and encouraging the presence of animals (Turner 1999, 185). Across[D3] all Canadian ecosystems there are concentric arcs of fire climate zones stretching from the Hudson Bay (Pyne 2007, 18) There are carbon deposits n lace sediment showing the impact of fire on the landscape after the most recent glacial period (Murphy 1985, 33) Pyne makes note of how fire relies on and shapes the landscape, the same as the landscape relies on and shapes fire behaviour (Pyne 2007, 21)[D4]

In Africa, [D5] savannah grassland is another ecological zone prone to wildfires.  People and fire, plants and animals co-exist in complex and sometimes misunderstood relationships.  Wild fire affects grazing animals when fresh growth springs up after an area is burned (Archibald et. Al. 2005, 95) The savannah is often considered “patchy” because of the role of fire; the young trees that are most likely to survive wild fires are those closest to clumps of older trees (Hochberg et al. 1994, 225)[D6]

In Europe and western societies[D7] , fire has been viewed mainly as a destroyer (Murphy 1985, 33), as did French colonizers in Guinea (Fairhead and Leach 1996, 29).  In 1982, Henry T. Lewis acknowledged the shortcomings of researchers, saying that "No aspect is quite so dismal as anthropologists' lack of knowledge of indigenous uses of fire for transforming and maintaining natural environments." [D8] (Lewis 1982, 3) As George Wuerthner points out, each ecosystem responds to fire in its own way (Wuerthner 2006, 89).  [D9] In the past, researchers have tended to minimize or dismiss the effects that communities being studied exerted on the land they inhabited, particularly hunting and gathering societies because it was argued that these communities do not produce or control resources (Lewis 1982, 4).  In the last few decades, this has begun to change, although debate continues with some researchers continuing to assert that lightening strikes are responsible for the majority of wild fire evidence (Wuerthner 2006, 9)[D10]


[D1]Is this the thesis statement?

[D2]This is the start of a topic sentence for this paragraph.  This paragraph will discuss North America.

[D3]Explain the role of fire in the Canadian landscape – What does the evidence suggest?

[D4]What is the transition to wildfires in Africa, the topic of the next paragraph?

[D5]What is the role of fire in the African landscape – What does the evidence suggest? Show the contrast between the two ecosystems.  This is the start of a topic sentence for this paragraph.  This paragraph will discuss Africa.

[D6]What is the transition to European and western views in the next paragraph?

[D7]This is the start of a topic sentence for this paragraph.  This paragraph will discuss the different European and western views on fire.

[D8]This belongs later in the paper, since it is a key piece of evidence for the argument about lack of information about how fire has been used for land management.  It does not add to the discussion of European and western societal views.

[D9]This doesn’t fit here.  Maybe move it to a different section, since this paragraph is about European and western societies, as indicated by the topic sentence, not how the ecosystem responds,

[D10]This seems to be a sub argument that is not central to the ideas of the colonizers and should be removed from this paragraph.  Instead, there should be a sentence here about how these new arrivals ignored the knowledge of the native inhabitants and lead to fire prevention practices and land management policies that were not effective

Revision #2

The second revision of the draft may consider:

  • Is your word choice interesting?
  • Are your sentences interesting?
  • Is your tone appropriate?

Fire Control or Fire Prevention

Introduction

The use of fire by native peoples to change ecosystems or portions thereof is almost universal (Steven Pyne [D1] World of Fire: The Culture of Fire on Earth from blm.gov website) When I viewed [D2] the two videos Fires of Spring and Second Nature: Building Forests in West Africa's Savannas, it illustrated [D3] the use of fire as a land management system in two different communities.  [D4]

In North America, First Nations communities have long used landscape burning to clear land, enhancing the growth of desired plants and encouraging the presence of animals (Turner 1999, 185). A variety of landscapes, [D5] from tundra in the north, to muskeg and the boreal forest which stretches south to the prairie grasslands and west to subalpine and montane forests in British Columbia, researchers have identified a series of concentric arcs of biotas and fire climate zones emanating in rings from the Hudson Bay (Pyne 2007, 18). Evidence of natural occurring fire, from carbon deposits in lake sediment, shows that fire was shaping the landscape as soon as vegetation appeared after the most recent glacial period (Murphy 1985, 33). Pyne[D6] notes that even before humans, fire relied on and shaped the plants and landscape as much as the landscape and plants relied on and shaped fire behaviour [D7] (Pyne 2007, 21).

In Africa, savannah grassland is another ecological [D8] zone prone to wildfires[D9] . Here to there are signs that fire, people, plants, and animals co-exist in complex and sometimes misunderstood relationships.  Wild fire affects the behaviour of grazing animals, altering foraging patterns as fresh growth becomes available in burned areas (Archibald et al. 2005, 95) and also promotes the "patchiness" of the savannah, as the young trees that are most likely to survive wild fires are those closest to the protection of existing clumps of older trees (Hochberg et al. 1994, 225). The role people play in this ecosystem is just beginning to be understood.[D10]

Early European arrivals in the area that is now Alberta viewed fire primarily as a destroyer (Murphy 1985, 33), as did French colonizers in Guinea (Fairhead and Leach 1996, 29). The views of the new arrivals, often neglected to fully appreciate the extensive knowledge of fire-ecology of the native inhabitants, which was particularly suited for the local regions. This lead fire prevention [D11] practices and land management policies that have met with mixed success.


[D1]Create a proper in-text citation here!

[D2]The use of the personal pronoun here is inappropriate for a research paper.  Personal pronouns are more appropriate for an informal audience, such as friend; not your college instructor.

[D3]Instead of using the past tense of the verb, omit, “it” and use “illustrate” instead.

[D4]So what?  Why does my reader care???  Add, a comment about how government officials and policy makers have viewed the traditional use of fire.  The thesis statement requires both a topic and position.

[D5]Does this transition to the idea in this sentence, or can it be omitted?  Would the sentence be stronger without it?

[D6]Transition?  In addition, Pyne notes that. . .

[D7]There needs to be a transitional sentence here; what is the connection between fire behaviour and the next topic sentence about African wildfires?  Maybe, it should read:  In addition, Pyne notes that even before humans, fire, in the form of wildfires, relied on and shaped the plants and landscapes as much as the. . .

[D8]This works well to transition from one ecological zone in the previous paragraph to the ecological zone of Africa.

[D9]Now, there is a connection between the wildfires that shaped the Canadian landscape, before humans and the wildfires that affect Africa.

[D10]Says who?  Researchers are just beginning to understand the role of humans in this ecosystem.

[D11]These lead to fire prevention practises – multiple ideas here, need to tie them together!


Revision #3

The third revision of the draft might consider:

  • Is your paper logical?

Fire Control or Fire Prevention

Introduction

Fire was shaping the earth long before humans made their appearance. Communities around the world have also adapted to fire and adapted fire to their means for thousands of years. Traditional ecological knowledge is beginning to inform modern land management strategies as demonstrated through the two case studies Fires of Spring and Second Nature: Building Forests in West Africa's Savannas which show the shift from colonial government officials who misunderstood the traditional use of fire, toward policy makers who implement traditional fire knowledge into current practices to better protect the environment.[D1]

In North America, First Nations communities have long used landscape burning to clear land, enhancing the growth of desired plants and encouraging the presence of animals (Turner 1999, 185)[D2] . From tundra in the north, to muskeg and the boreal forest which stretches south to the prairie grasslands and west to subalpine and montane forests in British Columbia, researchers have identified a series of concentric arcs of biotas and fire climate zones emanating in rings from the Hudson Bay (Pyne 2007, 18). Evidence of naturally occurring fire, from carbon deposits in lake sediment, shows that fire was shaping the landscape as soon as vegetation appeared after the most recent glacial period (Murphy 1985, 33). In addition, Pyne notes that even before humans, fire, in the form of wildfires, relied on and shaped the plants and landscape as much as the landscape and plants relied on and shaped fire behaviour (Pyne 2007, 21).[D3]

In Africa, savannah grassland is another ecological zone prone to wildfires. Here to there are signs that fire, people, plants, and animals co-exist in complex and sometimes misunderstood relationships.[D4] Wild fire affects the behaviour of grazing animals, altering foraging patterns as fresh growth becomes available in burned areas (Archibald et al. 2005, 95) and also promotes the "patchiness" of the savannah, as the young trees that are most likely to survive wild fires are those closest to the protection of existing clumps of older trees (Hochberg et al. 1994, 225). Researchers are just beginning to understand the role of humans in this ecosystem.[D5]

Early European arrivals in the area that is now Alberta viewed fire primarily as a destroyer (Murphy 1985, 33), as did French colonizers in Guinea (Fairhead and Leach 1996, 29). [D6] The views of the new arrivals, often neglected to fully appreciate the extensive knowledge of fire-ecology of the native inhabitants, which was particularly suited for the local regions. These lead fire prevention practices and land management policies have been met with mixed success.[D7]


[D1]This thesis statement now deals with both the topic which is the use of fire as a land management system and the position which is how government officials and policy makers have viewed the traditional knowledge of two different communities.

[D2]Topic Sentence #1

[D3]Transitional Sentence #1

[D4]Topic Sentence #2

[D5]Transitional Sentence #2

[D6]Topic Sentence #3

[D7]Transitional Sentence #3