How to Write Your Thesis (4/4): Editing

The most important part of thesis-writing is to check for errors and make amendments before publishing it. Here are some techniques brought to you by postgradasia.com.
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Editing

Read

Read your thesis out load as hearing it helps you capture mistakes that you otherwise might have missed. Also, do not re-read too often in a short amount of time as your eyes will grow accustomed to some of the mistakes. Instead, it is better to re-read after some time has passed as you will then be able to spot the errors and generate new ideas. 

  • Read the whole thesis
    To get an overview of your writing. Reading it from the beginning to the end gives you a better picture of your thesis and a grasp of the flow of your writings. You will also notice if certain points are repeated or better placed elsewhere. 
  • Read each section
    To see if you have covered all the relevant points. Each section should be written in a logical sequence that connects smoothly with other sections. Trim down some overly descriptive segments or add on to those that require more elaboration. 
  • Read each paragraph
    To understand the smaller ideas that are presented and see if it fits into the overall progression of your thesis. The first sentence of eah paragraph should introduce an idea while the following sentences should 1) elaborate the idea; 2) provide a quote which supports it; 3) give an example which further reinforces the idea. 
  • Read each sentence 
    To spot minor mistakes, review grammatical errors and should improve sentence structures. A complete thesis is usually no shorter than 100 pages and there is always the risk of errors. Pay special attention to the spelling of names and theories, the capitalisation of words and the usage of proper punctuations. 

Review

Your next step after proofreading is to seek for external reviews. Approach your supervisor and peers from the same field of study for honest feedback. In fact, you might even want to have a friend of family member look through it to see if it is accessible to the layman. There are also professional proofreading servies available for those who are less confident with their language skills. 

Sometimes, the feedback that you receive may sound harsh but do not take it too personally and let it get to you. Take it all in stride with a positive outlook. After all, it is better to take the blow now than to face the possibility of having your thesis rejected by your committee or journal publishers. 

Rewrite

Now that you have compile your feedback and are done gaping in horror at the read markings strewn haphazardly all over your paper, it is time to correct your mistakes. Revise and rewrite as much as you deem necessary, if you think that it will improve the quality of your thesis. If the changes affect the flow of the thesis, you will have to restructure it to maintain cohesion. However, do discuss with your supervisor if you find the suggested changes too much or if it is disruptive to the flow of your thesis. 

Otherwise, if certain lines or sections seemed weak, elucidate or extend it with more supportive data. At this point, additional research may be needed to supplement the changes that are being made. Also, remember to update your bibliography after rewriting or adding a new data. 

Tip

Never hand in your first draft as your final submission as that would be equivalent to airing your dirty laundry to a crowd. Your thesis has to be as perfect as it could possibly be - as your examiners expect nothing less from you, and you are responsble towards your readers as an academician.