Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Down to the Wire

All right, folks. Eight days left of classes and a week of finals.

For some of us, finals means cramming for examinations and avoiding sleep like you're in A Nightmare on Elm Street. For the lucky rest of us, that means just papers, big ol' eight-to-ten page monsters with two pages of sources listed adhering to the strict rules of MLA or APA citation. We crawl to the ends of the paper, unsure if our professors want eight full pages or seven pages with two lines on that eighth page.

Sound familiar?

Because it's getting to be that DOWN TO THE WIRE time, the smell of procrastination will be thick in the air. Thankfully, most people (including myself) will be procrastinating as well, so we'll get used to the smell.

Aromas aside, because time will be a scant resource, certain aspects of the writing process may be neglected, namely revision and proofreading. I'm guilty of it myself, but when I luck out (i.e. when I work on things early) and have time to revise, I feel better for it. Not only that, but so also feel my grades.

But "revision" can be seen as this nebulous term that isn't quite clear to students. Does it mean checking for grammar? Does it mean rewriting the sucker? Here at EIU, we've got a handy handout that might assist in clearing up just what we talk about when we talk about that final stretch of the writing process.

Basically, we're talking about two things: "deep revision" and "editing/proofreading." The latter is where we go through and clean up those grammatical issues like tense shifts and spelling errors.

The former, on the other hand, is where we dig deeply into what larger concerns might lie beneath the surface of your paper. I like to think of it like we're trying search for problems under the surface, so something like this doesn't happen:


As perfect as your paper might feel by the end of it, it's important to make sure you don't have any structural problems beneath. Let's focus on that for a bit with a few questions to ask yourself:
  1. What's your big picture? What's your point?
  2. Do you yourself pose any questions that you maybe didn't consider as you wrote it?
  3. If someone else reads this, can they tell you your main points back to you?
  4. What does each paragraph do in your paper?
You'll want to read your paper slowly and likely more than once if you want to fully grasp what these questions will help you figure out. If you don't do any of this, there is that possibility that you might've been okay.

But sometimes it's a crapshoot--you just might've built your paper on a structure that'll give you this later:

Moar Sinkholez

1 comment:

  1. You'll want to read your paper slowly and likely more than once if you want to fully grasp what these questions will help you figure out.