Proofreading academic papers is the last touch you put to your document before submission. It's like the final strokes an artist puts on their drawing to refine the rough edges or make the foregrounded parts more profound. When you fail to proofread your work, you are risking embarrassment from your supervisor or teacher and lowering your overall grades.
Contrary to popular belief, proofreading is not an activity you do in passing but rather an essential process in the academic writing process. As such, you should set aside time to proofread your work, just as you do with research for materials, writing, editing, among other parts of the academic writing process.
Why Should You Proofread Your Academic Work?
Proofreading creates the difference between a well-written piece of academic paper that scores highly from a poorly written one that scores low grades. Here are a few reasons why you should proofread your work:
- Proofreading enhances the clarity of your academic work
- Proofreading helps you catch embarrassing grammatical and logical mistakes
- Proofreading is an opportunity to improve objectivity in your academic paper
- Proofreading enhances the consistency of punctuation, spelling, and style
- Proofreading helps you to ensure that your work is well cited
- When you proofread, you make sure that all parts of you have included all aspects of your paper as you had intended
- A well proofread paper shows that you are a serious student
- Proofreading gives you peace of mind after submitting your paper
The benefits of proofreading are many, and it would take a long time to list them down. But of course, you get the point; you can only ignore proofreading at your peril. Now that you know the benefits of proofreading, you are probably asking yourself, what does a well-proofread paper entail?
What to Evaluate When Proofreading
Proofreading is not the same as academic editing. Editing comes at the earlier stages of writing, just after your first draft. Editing helps you remove fluff, false statements, poorly spelled sentences, among other loud academic errors. On the other hand, proofreading refines the already completed document, and it is done on the final draft of your paper.
You should look out for the following areas as you proofread:
In addition to the standard grammatical correctness of a text, you should look out for the following levels of academic language:
- Discipline-Specific language requirements: Each subject has its academic register. Any person reading your paper will find you knowledgeable in your field when you use terminology specific to your area of study. As you proofread your work, therefore, look out for and make use of opportunities to enhance your academic language.
- Language as an enhancer of objectivity: Objective language creates a distance between you and the text in your academic paper. As such, academics should focus primarily on the subject and refrain from referring directly to the reader or yourself. You should, therefore, eliminate all instances of 1st and second perspectives of writing.
- Language and Sensitivity: You cannot limit who will access your academic paper. Consequently, your paper will be read by people from all walks of life. It would, therefore, help if you proofread your work to ensure that your work is gender-sensitive, politically correct, does not discriminate against people based on their race, social class, physical (dis)abilities, among other considerations.
Language of one of the most challenging elements of proofreading. It is also the most critical part because language is the medium that communicates your thoughts. If you have difficulties with language, you can engage an experienced proofreader to check your academic text.
Consistency helps your readers to follow your thoughts easily. However, when you keep changing various elements of your writing, readers may get confused. You should evaluate the following levels of consistency in your academic work:
- Consistency in Spelling: Some words can take multiple or alternative spellings, and whichever spelling you choose, you are grammatically correct. Take words like set-up and setup, adviser and advisor, or t-shirt and tee shirt, among other words. Inasmuch as you are at liberty to choose which spelling to choose, it would help if you decided one way of spelling and sticking to it.
- Consistency in punctuation: Punctuation spans hyphens when spelling words; for example, e-commerce and eCommerce, capitalization of words; for example, WIFI and WiFi, acronyms; for example, UK and U.K among others.
- Consistency in how you write dates: Choose and stick to one style of writing dates. Your academic paper should not have 14th February 2021 on one paragraph and December 31, 1999.
Consistency is easy to attain since most referencing styles dictate how you spell words with an alternative spelling, which words are spelled with capital letters, and how to write dates. If you find that your text has multiple shortcomings, there is a high probability that you have ignored other referencing rules.
3. Word or Phrase Breaks that May Come Out as Offensive
When you type your work, some words come at the margin's edge but cannot fit on the same line. As such, your word processor breaks the word into two and puts a hyphen at the end of the first part to indicate that the word or phrase will continue in the next line. Sometimes, however, one or both split parts can sound vulgar or offensive if you read them separate from the second part.
When proofreading, you should look out for words like the-rapist when you meant 'therapist,' among other disastrous sounding words when split. When you find such words, you can move the entire world to the next line or look for a shorter synonym that will fit on the same line.
4. Ensure that Your Paper Has Everything You Intend It to Have
Sometimes, you can erroneously delete a part of your text and fail to realize until your academic paper comes back with an "incomplete work" from your supervisor or teacher. Also, it will help if you evaluate your academic paper vis a vis the question you are answering or your outline to be sure that you have conclusively handled all the parts of your academic paper. The other method to evaluate whether you have everything is going through your pages from the beginning to the end or considering your academic paper's number of words.
Catching all the above areas can be time challenging to an untrained eye. You can, therefore, miss notice of an essential proofreading requirement and end up embarrassed or fail to score a good grade. It would, thus, help if you let an experienced proofreader look at your work.
5 Tips for Quick and Thorough Academic Paper Proofreading
The sheer number of elements to look out for when proofreading can scare you to feelings of hopelessness. However, proofreading will be more comfortable if you make use of these five proofreading tips:
1. Let Your Work Rest Before You Start Proofreading
When you finish your academic paper and start proofreading immediately, you may end up failing to catch all the errors. Have you ever read your work a few days after submitting it for evaluation and found that you missed very embarrassing mistakes?
If you have the time, you can give your paper a few days to rest or a night. However, if you have limited time, you can put the paper aside, take a walk or do any other relaxing activity before starting the proofreading process.
2. Proofread Your Work when Your Mind is Most Alert
If you proofread your work when you are least productive, you will likely miss crucial details in your paper. Therefore, if you are most productive in the morning, then proofread in the morning. If you are a night person, you should consider burning the midnight oil proofreading your academic paper.
3. Read Your Paper Out Loud
Reading your paper aloud allows you to listen to how your content and language sound outside your brain. You will catch more errors if you invite someone else to read the paper out loud as you listen.
4. Proofread for One Error at a Time
When you proofread for everything at once, your mind is all over the place. In addition to losing focus, proofreading for multiple errors at a go can drag you or even discourage you from undertaking the activity.
However, when you focus on one error at a time, you are more likely to find the errors since you are looking specifically for the error and not any other thing. You can, for example, start with more straightforward errors like inappropriate hyphenation or inconsistent capitalization as you go towards more complicated areas like illogical assertions or enhancing academic language.
5. Let a Professional Proofreader Help You
Finding errors in your academic work can be challenging, mostly because your mind wrote the piece believing that it is correct. Additionally, proofreading your work by yourself can deny you the distance and objectivity needed for academic proofreading. Asking your friend to proofread your work may sound like a good idea, but they may let a mistake pass for fear of hurting you.
On the other hand, a professional proofreader has the knowledge and tools they require to effectively proofread your work and make unbiased, objective correction suggestions for your academic paper. It would also help if you choose a professional proofreader with a similar educational background as yours and has edited multiple documents in the past.
Are you looking for an experienced proofreader for your academic paper? Homework Village has trained, experienced, and thorough proofreaders in all subjects, who will proofread your work for grammatical mistakes and help you catch any illogical assertions in your academic paper.