Barry Mauer and John Venecek

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revision is a rethinking and reorganizing of your research paper at a macro level. Revisions are different from proofreading, in which you clean up smaller things like any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. A revision involves a big picture review of two things: content and form.


Content refers to the various elements that are combined to create a fully realized research project.

Components of Research Contents

  • topic
  • research question
  • thesis statement
  • theory
  • method
  • major supporting arguments

Reread your work and determine whether you made the best choices in each of these categories. Gather feedback from others, especially experts in the discipline. Professional scholars frequently count on feedback when they write. Constructive feedback, if you are able to receive it, is the highest form of flattery and can be extremely helpful in revisions. Sometimes your revision process will lead you to a total rethinking of the research project with a new topic and research question. That’s ok; no matter how far down the wrong road you go, it’s always a good idea (if you’ve left enough time) to turn around and find the right road.


Form refers to the chosen structure of your paper, the order of presentation, logical connections, use of examples, etc.

Researchers typically organize their presentation using one or more of the modes of writing. These modes include

Writing Modes

  • Cause and effect
  • Process analysis
  • Case study
  • Comparison/contrast
  • Classification and division
  • Definition
  • Analysis
  • Argumentation
  • Narrative
  • Description

If sections of your writing seem disorganized, try using one of these modes to help get your ideas into shape. To learn more about modes, download Modes of Writing by John C. Hodges.

During revision, consider whether you need to move paragraphs, add or remove examples, eliminate redundancies, provide transitions between paragraphs, strengthen your conclusion, etc.

Professional writers often go through many revisions before they are ready to submit their work for publication. Publishers then review the work and may accept it as is, reject it, or accept with revisions. Accept with revisions is a common outcome; the publisher will specify what needs to be revised, with the understanding that the paper will be published if the requested changes are made.

For more advice and information on Revisions, click on the following links from

Revisions [Refresher]

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