One may think that a couple of typos and punctuation mistakes are not a big deal. After all,
if you have done the right research, expressed your findings in a proper way, and provided
sufficient proof, are these small things really so important? Unfortunately, yes, they are. Not
all teachers and professors are very particular about this requirement, but the majority of
them are really strict about your adhering to all the rules and requirements of proper
grammar and punctuation. This means that you simply cannot afford to forgo the
proofreading stage of your work. It would be a shame if all your hard work were in vain just
because you did not feel like spending an extra hour checking for potential mistakes. So,
how does one go about it?
Do All the Editing Beforehand
You should understand the difference between editing and proofreading and avoid mixing
them up in a single process. Editing means introducing large-scale changes to your paper:
removing entire paragraphs and sentences, rearranging chapters, adding new material, etc.
Proofreading is about making smaller changes and correcting smaller mistakes in spelling,
grammar, and punctuation. It does not mean that the latter is less important than the
former – they both have their own functions. It simply means that you should do these two
things separately. Start with editing and make sure you are done with all the big changes
before you start proofreading. It does not mean that you should not correct a blatant
mistake if you see one when you edit, but it should not distract you from your main task.
Go from Larger to Smaller Parts
When proofreading research paper writing, start with analyzing the structure of paragraphs,
move on to sentences and finish with words. Check if all sentences within a paragraph are
logically connected. Make sure all the sentences are grammatically correct and use proper
punctuation. Then move on to checking individual words for spelling mistakes.
Check the Meaning of Individual Words
You have to make sure that the words you use are not just written correctly, but also mean
what you think they mean. Quite often, we use words without checking their meaning in a
dictionary, simply because we believe they should have the meaning we think they have. It
is an easy way to feel embarrassed, especially in a serious research paper. Therefore, if you have even the slightest inkling of doubt concerning the meaning of a particular word, either
use another expression or look it up in a dictionary.
Pay Attention to Spelling
You may think that your word processor is more than enough to ensure that you do not
make spelling mistakes, but you should not rely on it too much. Do not forget that English is
rife with homonyms and homophones, and word processors are not very good at
distinguishing between the words with the same spelling or pronunciation. As a result, the
spelling of the word you used may be correct, but you may be using the wrong word
altogether. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check dubious words in a dictionary.
Make Sure You Consistently Used Your Referencing Style
Formatting and referencing may seem like a small matter when you compare them with
things that are really important for a research paper, such as using proper evidence and
proving your point. However, academia tends to take an extremely poor view of papers that
do not use proper formatting. In fact, even an otherwise perfectly written assignment can
be fully dismissed simply because its author failed to stick to all the rules and regulations.
You do not want it to happen with your paper, so make sure you have a good command of
your referencing style. Check every quotation with the style guide or hire a specialist who
will go through your paper and make sure it follows all the conventions. Proofreading is the last thing you do when writing an academic paper, but it is certainly not the least in its importance. By properly proofreading your assignment, you make sure you do not make any silly mistakes that may harm your chances of getting a good grade, and polish your paper to make a good impression on your professors. Do not forgo this stage – it easily can mean all the difference between success and failure.