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Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 1 CS5014 Research Methods in CS Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid Computer Science Department Virginia Tech Revising Drafts
© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 2 Outline Revising Drafts Techniques and Tips Strategies for Successive Drafts Check-list for Revising Some of the material is based on Dr. Cliff Shaffer’s Notes for CS5014. Department of Computer Science, Virginia Tech
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 3 Tips for Revision 1/2 “Simply go through what you have written and try to curb the length of sentences, question every passive verb and if possible make it active, prune redundant words, and look for nouns used instead of verbs." “Every single word that I publish I write at least six times."
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 4 Tips for Revision 2/2 Effective revision is a skill that is acquired through practice A person can look at something “fresh" only so many times Time can help... let it sit a couple days if schedule permits Don't give it to coauthor/advisor/helper prematurely. If you do, they will merely tell you what you would have discovered yourself on the next proofreading You would normally go through several drafts! Can you produce first drafts that need no revision For research paper write-ups, the writing should not all wait until the end!
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 5 Strategies for Successive Drafts 1/3 Try for content and organization in initial drafts Just get all of your thoughts and materials down in your first draft. Postpone editing and revising for later. Don't use your time and energy on careful editing for spelling, grammar, and choice of the right words. Try to write the entire first draft in one day. You can do this if you start with a detailed outline.
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 6 Strategies for Successive Drafts 2/3 Try for content and organization in initial drafts. When you think you have finished the first draft, ask yourself: Have I covered my major points? (Return to your outline and make sure you have actually developed all your major arguments.) Have you included the necessary figures and tables? Do you have a conclusion, or did you leave it to your reader to infer the conclusions from the data or mathematics?
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 7 Strategies for Successive Drafts 3/3 Let the document rest for a few hours or days before you revise for organization. Work a section at a time in the first drafts. This will help you focus on one or two ideas at a time. It avoids your getting bogged down by trying to think about too much at once. Try to work on one section at one sitting. If you read through the section, and stop to spend 30 minutes finding the right words for a sentence, then you'll have to finish the next day, which interrupts your train of thought.
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 8 Distinction between Revising, Editing, and Proofreading 1/5 Revise before editing Many writers discover what they are going to say during the actual process of composition. Exploratory writing is perfectly valid to use. However, in the first draft you may omit the main point of a passage omit transitions or bridges from one section to the next omit essential information, or give too much detail omit context or background information repeat information
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 9 Distinction between Revising, Editing, and Proofreading 2/5 To revise is to move the text around so that the order is logical delete unnecessary information add essential information As you revise, ask yourself: Have I introduced main points before detail? Are the details complete and correct? Is the information in the headings and subheadings consistent with the information below them? Did I add transitions between arguments, between paragraphs, and between sections?
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 10 Distinction between Revising, Editing, and Proofreading 3/5 Edit before proofreading At this point (after revision), all important ideas should be in your paper and in the correct order Run the spell checker. Manually search for spelling errors that the spell checker does not catch. See if you can shorten sentences: avoid needless words. Verify that you have defined all terms, notation, mnemonics, and abbreviations before use. Check for paragraph length and unity. Do you have one idea to a paragraph? Check for opportunities to use displayed lists and indentations that emphasize key points.
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 11 Distinction between Revising, Editing, and Proofreading 4/5 Edit before proofreading Check for grammatical lapses such as subject-verb agreement, misplaced modifiers, pronoun-antecedent agreement, parallel elements, and tense switch. Check for stylistic touches: remove redundant expressions, vary overused words, strengthen verbs. Check for word choice. Check for special problems. For example, if your first language has different rules for definite and indefinite articles, check each sentence for proper use of definite and indefinite articles.
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 12 Distinction between Revising, Editing, and Proofreading 5/5 Proofread last Print an unmarked copy of the manuscript on your desk at home. At the time in the day when you reach your intellectual peak, reserve a block of several hours, and sit down and carefully read without interruption. Ask a friend to proofread your manuscript. Run the spell checker again.
Revising Drafts© Dr. Ayman Abdel-Hamid, CS5014, Fall 2006 13 Check-list for Revising Delete any word, phrase, sentence whose loss does not change the force or meaning Replace unnecessary long words with shorter ones (utilize use) Re-factor sentences and paragraphs to put similar parts together Look for ambiguous phrases, unnecessary repetition, passive voice Are all claims supported? Check the math, then do it again Is the notation as simple as possible? Is it consistent? Did you cite enough? Too much? Reference list properly numbered? Cross-references and bibliographic citations correct?
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