Proofreading is essential for any written work. An otherwise excellent research publication can be ruined by multiple typos. Below are effective strategies for proofreading your research articles.
- Decide which medium you would like to work with. Some people prefer working from a printed copy. Others enjoy the ease of access the computer allows for proofreading. You may want to use a combination of both. Whatever you choose, do what feels right for you.
- Read for one type of a problem at a time. When dealing with a large written work, getting overwhelmed is easily done. However, by looking for one type of a problem at a time — content, structure, clarity, style, and finally citations — proofreading becomes more manageable.
- Read out loud. This will help you hear problems that you may not have been able to see. Reading out loud will also slow you down, and highlight the difference between what you wrote and what you meant to write.
- Ask for help. It helps to have a second set of eyes. Ask a colleague or friend to proofread for you.
- Read your text backward. This forces you to read word by word, slowing down as you double check spelling and grammar.
When proofreading, you’ll want to use the techniques above while at the same time being mindful of the levels of proofreading:
- Content. Consider all of the claims you’ve made. Are your claims consistent with your data? Are they adequately supported by your data?
- Structure. Look for flow in your research article. Do you have an introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion? Is your purpose clearly stated? Writing relate back to your purpose?
- Clarity. Here is a good section to ask for help. Peers and colleagues who are unfamiliar with the subject matter are good choices. They will be able to tell you if you’ve left any keywords undefined or if there are any unclear sentences. Is it clear what each pronoun refers to?
- Style. Your personal voice shines in the style section. It reveals your opinions and voice, as well as how you view your audience. Have you used an appropriate tone in your research article? Are your sentences varied in length? Is there passive voice or active voice?
- Citations and facts. The journal will determine the citation style (MLA, APA, etc.), and it is essential to follow their guidelines. Research articles will be sent back for revisions if the journal guidelines are not followed. Also double check to make sure the references you are using are correct.