8 Tricks and tips to effectively proofread your dissertation
You’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears, along with countless hours into your dissertation and it’s nearly ready for its final hand-in. It’s an exciting time and you are getting closer to your goals. However, you want your dissertation to be the best it can possibly be, and you don’t want to miss any mistakes that you could have corrected. This means you’re going to have to proofread your dissertation. I’ve some easy-to-follow tips and tricks to make your dissertation free of proofread errors. And these tips can easily be applied to proofread your research paper as well. So let's begin!
Preparing to proofread
Before getting your hands dirty, it is important to do some groundwork. So let’s go over what you should do before you get to proofreading your document.
1. Leave time to proofread: The first mistake that many students make is not leaving enough time to proofread their work. Many students tend to procrastinate until the night before the deadline and that leaves no time for editing. Make sure that you leave a good week, minimum, so you can proofread your dissertation properly without any need to rush.
2. Get prepared: Before you start proofreading, you also need to know what your weak spots are. For example, you may be bad at spelling, grammar, punctuation etc. You should also be aware which parts of the dissertation you wrote when you were tired or sleepy since that's when you're most likely to make mistakes.
3. Look for large issues: Go through your entire document and look for any large mistakes that you could have made – leaving a paragraph unfinished, missing a part entirely, etc. This could also mean that you need to delete any redundant or repetitive sentences, structure your information better or make formatting changes.
Tips and tricks to proofread
Once you’re sure that the document you have in front of you is ready for proofreading, here are some tips on ensuring that you proofread it thoroughly.
1. Check your formatting
The formatting of your dissertation is just as important as the content itself. Check to make sure that you’ve broken up your paragraphs properly and you’re using headings and sub-headings where needed. Furthermore, make sure you’ve checked your font, and that all your sources are correctly labelled.
2. Check for consistency
You’ll want to make sure that your dissertation follows a similar style throughout, both in terms of language and tone of voice. You may have been writing your dissertation over the course of several months, in which case, there’s bound to be some irregularities. Ensure the way you’ve used capital letters, sources, and hyphenation are the same throughout your entire dissertation.
3. Use helpful guides and tools
Plenty of blogs and websites offer guidance on proofreading and useful tips on what you should focus on when proofreading. They share some common and less common mistakes that you can stumble upon. Some of the blogs, websites, and resources that I often refer to are: Via Writing (offers great grammar guides that you can use to track your grammar mistakes), Let's Go And Learn and Simple Grad (offer editing guidance which will make your editing job a lot easier), Cite It In (a writing tool to help you out if you need some rewriting done), State Of Writing (a compilation of resources to help with writing), and Editage Insights (a resource for researchers, editors, and journals on journal publishing and academic research).
4. Take breaks; proofread bit by bit
Avoid proofreading your entire dissertation in one go as you’re likely to lose focus or get bored. Your attention might drift and you might end up missing small, hard-to-spot mistakes.
Instead, try breaking down your dissertation in little segments and proofread it bit by bit. This can help you stay focused. This may mean that the process takes several days, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take a break every now and then. If you’re constantly looking at the dissertation you’re going to start to lose focus, and it will take you double the time to proofread.
5. Use Word functions
Microsoft Word is one of the most commonly used tools for creating any kind of document. Along with being great for composing your work, it can also be used for proofreading. Set the language to English US or English UK and use the spelling and grammar option to track down your mistakes. You can also use the search option to look for similar mistakes to the ones you have already noticed.
6. Read aloud
Reading aloud will help you notice the places where your sentences don't work and where they should be changed. This way, you can also notice major mistakes like the ones in the structure of your work, or minor mistakes like grammar and spellings. This is a simple yet effective way to reduce the number of errors in your dissertation.
7. Use a print out to proofread
Another great way to proofread is to do it the old-fashioned way. Print your dissertation out and mark all of the mistakes that you can find in different colors according to the type of mistake. It's much easier to notice your mistakes on paper than on the screen and therefore your proofreading process will be much easier and more interesting with all the colors that you can add.
8. Check for plagiarism
Though this is not a part of proofreading, checking for plagiarism is an extra step you can take to ensure that you have not unintentionally plagiarized someone’s published work. Plagiarism is considered an unethical practice and you may be penalized if caught. Use an online plagiarism checker to scan your work to ensure that it doesn’t match up with any published piece. Try to aim for under 5%.
I hope these tips help you proofread your dissertation thoroughly and without any mistakes and errors.
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Note: All views/recommendations expressed/included here are the author's own and not necessarily endorsed by Editage Insights.