We know how hard postgraduate PhD and Master students work to on their thesis and on their journal papers. This is why we have prepared a detailed guide that includes 101 tips for proofreading and editing your academic writing – be it your thesis or your journal paper. Peer reviews are strict, and have no mercy for those who speak a native language other than English. You can try the following tips to help you self-proofread your thesis or paper and get it accepted by peer reviewers. This involves spotting and fixing as many English errors as possible, so that when reviewers read it, they would give it a pass in terms of the English writing.
Leave it alone for a while.
Yes, that is right. Just sleep on it for a while. When you spend a long time writing a paper, you lose the element of objectivity, and sometimes just read it without even actually ‘reading’ it, since it is practically memorized in your mind. This is a very common mistake. To avoid this, just leave the paper for a day or two. Go take a break and do something to relax your mind. Then when you are back, you can look at the paper in an objective way and actually read it sentence by sentence, and fix any English errors you find.
Print a hard copy of the paper.
Yes, a classic tip is to print the paper and read it off-screen. This way, you would be forced to read it in a different way than your mind is accustomed to. The benefit of this is that you would force your mind to intake the information in a new way, and thus have a better perspective, making it easier for you to spot any errors.
Read the paper in a slow, loud voice.
This can be effective, since when you are forced to say the words you read, you will read them in a slower manner. This will allow you to have more time to focus on each sentence word-by-word. With doing so, you can detect more errors.
Do not use any automated proofreading or paraphrasing software.
This is the worst thing you can do when it comes to proofreading your own paper. These tools are good for simple adjustment to your paper. But in general, these tools tend to cause more errors than they solve. They are not able to realize which terms are verbs and which are adjectives, for example. So they may change “let’s get the show started” to “let’s get the demonstrate started”. You would end up with more errors than you started with!
Give your work to a friend to read.
Sometimes you can lose objectivity when you read your own writing. It would be effective if you hand your paper to a friend and get his or her opinion on the writing.
Check for any common errors that you typically make.
Sometimes it is good to go over the paper briefly and try to catch any errors that are very common first. Then you can read it another round with less distraction by common errors, which tend to be more frequent.
Read the paper backwards.
Yes, this sounds strange, but it is a good way to force your mind to read the sentences starting from the end to the beginning. This way, you would make more effort to focus on each sentence individually, potentially spotting more errors.
Use a ruler.
You can use a rules or anything that can cover the rest of the paper, and only focus on the sentence you are reading. With more focus, as previously mention, this would allow for catching errors that would otherwise be missed.
The final stage should be using a spell checker.
Microsoft Word offers a free and reliable spell checker tool that you can use to check for any spelling or typographical errors. Using this would be vital, as even after intense concentration, you would still miss a few typos here and there. This is very normal. So relying on an automated spell checker that you can guide to change each typo would be the perfect ending. Try it out, I am sure you would find a few types and thank me later!
Finally, avoid any external distractions while reading.
Yes, even music counts as a distraction! It is better to remove all distractions from around you, and sit in a quiet area where you can concentrate fully on proofreading your paper.