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Stage 13: Seeking feedback, reviewing, redrafting, and revising your text

Although this stage will probably occur many times during the writing process, make sure to budget sufficient time to return to your manuscript for full scale revision before submitting it for initial approval.

Seeking feedback, reviewing, redrafting, and revising your text helps you to:

  • See your text from a reader’s perspective
  • Examine your overall organization and identify what is no longer relevant, what needs further development, etc.
  • Bring together parts written at different times to create a coherent, connected whole
  • Make your ideas accessible to others, which in turn will result in better reader comments about your content
  • Plan and negotiate your progress in consultation with your advisor and committee members

Step 1: Approach revising as an opportunity

"Re-see" your text and evaluate how well it meets the needs of your audience.

Step 2: Separate large-scale revision from small-scale editing and proofreading

Make sure to make large changes in organization and content first rather than spending hours smoothing out a sentence you’ll end up cutting.

Step 3: Tap into your dissertation support network as well as the members of your committee to receive constructive feedback on your writing.

  • Help your readers help you by giving them a cover letter in which you explain what you are trying to accomplish in the draft and list your specific questions and concerns
  • Consider potential readers’ expertise and skills in giving feedback when deciding which parts of your dissertation you plan to give to whom (e.g., perhaps only people working in your lab can constructively comment on your methods, whereas friends in other disciplines would give useful feedback on your introduction)
  • Because different readers will give you different suggestions for revision, remember it is up to you to decide whose feedback is useful and whose suggestions you will follow
  • Negotiate with your advisor and committee members to establish a process for submitting drafts for their feedback

Step 4: Use a checklist of common errors when you do your final editing and proofreading, or consider hiring an editor to help you identify and fix such problems.

Step 5: Make sure to leave time for checking calculations, visual details, and literature citations for accuracy and validity, and remove sources you are no longer using or add new ones.