How to Revise an Academic Essay - Part 1

How to Revise an Academic Essay - Part 1

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My name is Beth Severy-Hoven and I teach Classics here at Macalester College. I’m going to describe a process for revising an academic essay that I first learned about in a book called The Craft of Research by Wayne Booth and his colleagues. I like this technique because it helps you see your paper from a reader’s point of view and it focuses on the larger structures of your paper first. Physically, take your introduction and your conclusion, and in each one, find the one sentence that states the main argument of your paper. If you can’t find that sentence, then your paper doesn’t have a thesis and you know where your work lies. If you do have a thesis statement in both your introduction and conclusion, read them together. Are they making the same basic argument? Often they’re not, and this is because the process of writing your first draft actually helps you clarify and refine your ideas which is great but you need to take that new thesis from the conclusion, bring it back into the introduction, and revise to make sure you’re introducing that new, richer, more sophisticated thesis. Go ahead. I’ll wait.