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Instructions on How to Proofread Your Paper


Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write your research paper.

Proofreading Your Paper


Proofreading is the act of reviewing, identifying, and correcting errors in your research paper before it is handed in to be graded by your professor. Common errors found within the text of a paper can be both typographical [i.e., an error in typing] and grammatical [i.e., faulty, unconventional use of language]. However, the act of proofreading can also include identifying and correcting problems with the narrative flow of your paper [i.e., the logical sequence of thoughts and ideas], problems with concise writing [i.e., wordiness and imprecise vocabulary], and problems created by word processing software applications [e.g., unintentional font types, indented paragraphs, line spacing, uneven margins, or orphan headings, sentences, or words].

Proofreading Strategies

Proofreading is often the final act before handing in your paper. It is important because most professors grade papers not only on the quality of how you addressed the research problem and the overall organization of the study, but also on the quality of the grammar, punctuation, formatting, and narrative flow of your paper. The assigning of research papers is not just an exercise in developing good research and critical thinking skills, but it is also intended to help you become a better writer. Below are step-by-step strategies you can follow.

Before You Proofread

  • Revise the larger aspects of the text. Don't proofread for the purpose of making corrections at the sentence and word level [the act of editing] if you still need to work on the overall focus, development, and organization of the paper or you need to re-arrange or change specific sections [the act of revising].
  • Set your paper aside between writing and proofreading. Give yourself a day or so between the writing of your paper and proofreading it. This will help you identify mistakes more easily. This is also a reason why you shouldn't wait until the last minute to draft your paper because it won't provide the time needed to step away before proofreading.
  • Eliminate unnecessary words before looking for mistakes. Throughout your paper, you should try to avoid using inflated diction if a more concise phrase works equally well. Simple, precise language is easier to proofread than overly complex sentence constructions and vocabulary. At the same time, also identify and change empty or repetitive phrases.
  • Know what to look for. Make a mental note of the mistakes you need to watch for based on comments from your professor on previous drafts of the paper or that you have received about papers written in other classes. This will help you to identify repeated patterns of mistakes more readily.
  • Review your list of references. Review the sources mentioned in your paper and make sure you have properly cited them in your bibliography. Also make sure that the titles cited in your bibliography are mentioned in the text. Any omissions should be resolved before you begin proofreading your paper.

NOTE:  Do not confuse the act of revising your paper with the act of editing it. Editing is intended to tighten up language so that your paper is easier to read and understand. This should be the focus when you proofread. If your professor asks you to revise your paper, review the text above concerning ways to improve the overall quality of your paper. The act of revision implies that there is something within the paper that needs to be changed, improved, or re-organized in some significant way. If the reason for a revision is not specified, always ask for clarification.

Individualize the Act of Proofreading

Individualizing your proofreading process to match weaknesses in your writing will help you correct errors more efficiently and effectively. For example, I still tend to make subject-verb agreement errors. Accept the fact that you likely won't be able to check for everything, so be introspective about what your typical problem areas are and look for each type of error individually. Here's how:

  • Think about what errors you typically make. Review instructors' comments about your writing and/or set up an appointment to review your paper with a research expert at HAMNIC Solutions.
  • Learn how to fix those errors. Talk with your professor about helping you understand why you make the errors you do so that you can learn how to avoid them while writing.
  • Use specific strategies. Develop strategies you are most comfortable with to find and correct your particular errors in usage, sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Where you proofread is important! Effective and efficient proofreading requires extended focus and concentration. If you are easily distracted by external activity or noise, proofread in a quiet corner of the library rather than at a table in Starbucks.
  • Proofread in several short blocks of time. Avoid trying to proofread your entire paper all at once, otherwise, it will be difficult to maintain your concentration. A good strategy is to start your proofreading each time at the beginning of your paper. It will take longer to make corrections, but you may be surprised how many mistakes you find in text that you have already reviewed.

In general, verb tense should be in the following format, although variations can occur within the text of each section depending on the narrative style of your paper. Note that references to prior research mentioned anywhere in your paper should always be stated in the past tense.

  1. Abstract--past tense [summary description of what I did]
  2. Introduction--present tense [I am describing the study to you now]
  3. Literature Review--past tense [the studies I reviewed have already been published]
  4. Methodology--past tense [the way I gathered and synthesized data has already happened]
  5. Results--past tense [the findings of my study have already been discovered]
  6. Discussion--present tense [I am talking to you now about how I interpreted the findings]
  7. Conclusion--present tense [I am summarizing the study for you now]

General Strategies for Strengthening Your Paper

As noted above, proofreading involves a detailed examination of your paper to ensure there are no content errors. However, proofreading is also an opportunity to strengthen the overall quality of your paper beyond correcting specific grammar, diction, or formatting mistakes. Before you begin reviewing your paper line-by-line, step back and reflect on what you have written; consider if there are ways to improve each section of the paper by taking into consideration the following “big picture” elements of good writing.

Introduction. Look for any language that reflects broad generalizations, indeterminate phrasing, or text that does not directly inform the reader about the research and its significance. This can include unnecessary qualifiers or text, such as, "This study includes a significant review of the literature [what constitutes "significant"?], "There are a number of findings that are important [just state the number of findings; leave it to the discussion to argue the context of their importance], and, for example, "This research reminds me of...." [why does the research study relate to remembering something; is this first person perspective essential to introducing the research problem].

Research Topic. Make sure the topic does not come across as ambiguous, simplistic, overly broad, or ill-defined. A strong research problem and the associated research questions establish a set of assumptions that should be nuanced, yet challenges the reader to think. Place yourself in the position of a reader totally unfamiliar with the topic, then, critically evaluate the research problem, any associated research questions you are trying to address, and the theoretical framework. Ask yourself if there is anything that may not make sense or requires further explanation or refinement. The rest of the paper will build on these elements, but the introduction of these foundational aspects of your paper should be clearly and concisely stated.

Paragraph Transitions. Review the overall paper to make sure the narrative flow is coherent throughout and that there are smooth transitions between paragraphs. Ensure that major transitions in text have a heading or sub-heading [if needed] and that the paragraph prior to the transition let's the reader know that you are about to shift to a new idea. Also, look for text that is overly long or that contains too much description and too little analysis and interpretation. Sometimes you need a long paragraph to describe a complex idea, event, or issue, but review them to make sure they can't be broken apart into shorter, more readable paragraphs.

Discussion of Results. Read over your discussion of the research findings and make sure you have not treated any of the evidence as unproblematic or uncomplicated. Make sure you have discussed the results through a critical lens of analysis that takes into account alternative interpretations or possible counter-arguments. In most cases, your discussion section should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the study's findings and their implications, both positive, supportive findings and negative, unanticipated findings.

Conclusion. Make sure you have done more than simply re-state the research problem and what you did. Provide the reader with a sense of closure by ensuring that the conclusion has highlighted all the main points of the paper and tells the reader why the study was important, what the paper's broader significance and implications might be, and, if applicable, what areas of the study require further research. Also note that the conclusion is usually no more than two or three paragraphs. If your conclusion is longer, look for ways to condense the text and be alert to information that is superfluous or should be integrated into other parts of your paper [e.g., new information].

Specific Strategies to Help Identify Errors

Once you have made any necessary revisions to your paper and looked for ways to strengthen its overall quality, focus on identifying and correcting specific errors within the text.

  1. Work from a printout, not a computer screen. Besides sparing your eyes from the strain of glaring at a computer screen, proofreading from a printout allows you to easily skip around to where errors might have been repeated throughout the paper [e.g., misspelling the name of a person].
  2. Read out loud. This is especially helpful for spotting run-on sentences and missing words, but you'll also hear other problems that you may not have identified while reading the text out loud. This will also help you adopt the role of the reader, thereby helping you to understand the paper as your audience might.
  3. Use a ruler or blank sheet of paper to cover up the lines below the one you're reading. This technique keeps you from skipping over possible mistakes and allows you to deliberately pace yourself as you read through your paper.
  4. Circle or highlight every punctuation mark in your paper. This forces you to pay attention to each mark you used and to confirm its purpose in each sentence or paragraph. This is a particularly helpful strategy if you tend to misuse or overuse a punctuation mark, such as a comma or semi-colon.
  5. Use the search function of the computer to find mistakes. Using the Ctrl F search [find] feature can help identify repeated errors faster. For example, if you overuse a phrase or repeatedly rely on the same qualifier [e.g., "important"], you can do a search for those words or phrases and in each instance make a decision about whether to remove it, rewrite the sentence, or use a synonym.
  6. If you tend to make many mistakes, check separately for each kind of error, moving from the most to the least important, and following whatever technique works best for you to identify that kind of mistake. For instance, read through once [backwards, sentence by sentence] to check for fragments; read through again [forward] to be sure subjects and verbs agree, and again [perhaps using a computer search for "this," "it," and "they"] to trace pronouns to antecedents.
  7. End with using a computer spell checker or reading backwards word by word. Remember that a spell checker won't catch mistakes with homonyms [e.g., "they're," "their," "there"] or certain word-to-word typos [like typing "he" when you meant to write "the"]. The spell-checker function can catch some errors quickly, but it is not a substitute for carefully reviewing the text. This also applies to the grammar check function as well.
  8. Leave yourself enough time. Since many errors are made and overlooked by speeding through writing and proofreading, setting aside the time to carefully review your writing will help you identify errors you might otherwise miss. Always read through your writing slowly. If you read through the paper at a normal speed, you won't give your eyes sufficient time to spot errors.
  9. Ask a friend to read your paper. Offer to proofread a friend's paper if they will review yours. Having another set of eyes look over your writing will often spot errors that you would have otherwise missed.

NOTE:  Pay particular attention to the spelling of proper nouns [an individual person, a place, or an organization]. Make sure the name is carefully capitalized and spelled correctly, and that this spelling has been used consistently throughout the text of your paper. This is especially true for proper nouns transliterated into English or that have been spelled differently over time. In this case, choose the spelling most consistently used by researchers in the literature you have cited so, if asked, you can explain the logic of your choice.

USC Writing Center

HAMNIC Solutions

Should you need help proofreading your paper, take advantage of the assistance offered by research consultants at HAMNIC Solutions and they can help you with any aspect of the writing process. Contact Experts here. You will have to provide a copy of your writing assignment, any relevant handouts or texts, and any outlines or drafts you've written. The blog on HAMNIC Solutions' website provide an opportunity for you to improve your skills related to an aspect of writing that you may be struggling with, particularly if English is not your native language.

Common Grammar Mistakes

Avoid These Common Grammar Mistakes!

Cartoonist Doug Larson once observed: "If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur" [The Quotations Page]. Because the English language has complicated grammar and usage rules and most of those rules have multiple exceptions in how they are applied, there are many online sites that discuss how to avoid mistakes in grammar and word usage. Here are a few that may be particularly helpful:

Listed below are the most common mistakes that are made by writers and, thus, the ones you should focus on locating, correcting, and/or removing while proofreading your research paper.

      1. Affect / effect -- welcome to what I consider to be the most confusing aspect in the English language. "Effect" is most often a noun and generally means “a result.” However, "effect" can be used as a verb that essentially means "to bring about," or "to accomplish." The word "affect" is almost always a verb and generally means "to influence." However, affect can be used as a noun when you're talking about the mood that someone appears to have. [Ugh!]
      2. Apostrophes -- the position of an apostrophe depends upon whether the noun is singular or plural. For singular words, add an "s" to the end, even if the final letter is an "s." For contractions, replace missing letters with an apostrophe; but remember that it is where the letters no longer are, which is not always where the words are joined [e.g., "is not" and "isn't"]. Note that contractions are rarely used in scholarly writing.
      3. Capitalization -- a person’s title is capitalized when it precedes the name and, thus, is seen as part of the name [e.g., President Zachary Taylor]; once the title occurs, further references to the person holding the title appear in lowercase [e.g., the president]. For groups or organizations, the name is capitalized when it is the full name [e.g., the United States Department of Justice]; further references should be written in lowercase [e.g., the department]. In general, the use of capital letters should be minimized as much as possible.
      4. Colorless verbs and bland adjectives –- passive voice, use of the to be verb, is a lost opportunity to use a more interesting and accurate verb when you can. Adjectives can also be used very specifically to add to the sentence. Try to avoid generic or bland adjectives and be specific. Use adjectives that add to the meaning of the sentence.
      5. Comma splices -- a comma splice is the incorrect use of a comma to connect two independent clauses (an independent clause is a phrase that is grammatically and conceptually complete: that is, it can stand on its own as a sentence). To correct the comma splice, you can: replace the comma with a period, forming two sentences; replace the comma with a semicolon; or, join the two clauses with a conjunction such as "and," "because," "but," etc.
      6. Compared with vs. compared to -- compare to is to point out or imply resemblances between objects regarded as essentially of a different order; compare with is mainly to point out differences between objects regarded as essentially of the same order [e.g., life has been compared to a journey; Congress may be compared with the British Parliament].
      7. Confusing singular possessive and plural nouns –- singular possessive nouns always take an apostrophe, with few exceptions, and plural nouns never take an apostrophe. Omitting an apostrophe or adding one where it does not belong makes the sentence unclear.
      8. Coordinating conjunctions -- words, such as "but," "and," "yet," join grammatically similar elements [i.e., two nouns, two verbs, two modifiers, two independent clauses]. Be sure that the elements they join are equal in importance and in structure.
      9. Dangling participial -- a participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject of the sentence.
      10. Dropped commas around clauses–-place commas around words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence. Do not use commas around restrictive clauses, which provide essential information about the subject of the sentence.
      11. The Existential "this" -- always include a referent with "this," such as "this theory..." or "this approach to understanding the...." With no referent, "this" can confuse the reader.
      12. The Existential "it" -- the "existential it" gives no reference for what "it" is. Be specific!
      13. Its / it's--"its" is the possessive form of "it." "It's" is the contraction of "it is" or "it has." They are not interchangeable and the latter should be avoided in scholarly writing.
      14. Fewer / Less -- if you can count it, then use the word fewer; if you cannot count it, use the word less.
      15. Interrupting clause –- this clause or phrase interrupts a sentence, such as, "however." Place a comma on either side of the interrupting clause. An interrupting clause should generally be avoided in academic writing.
      16. Know your non-restrictive clauses –- this clause or phrase modifies the subject of the sentence, but it is not essential to understanding the sentence. The word “which” is the relative pronoun usually used to introduce the nonrestrictive clause.
      17. Know your restrictive clauses –- this clause limits the meaning of the nouns it modifies. The restrictive clause introduces information that is essential to understanding the meaning of the sentence. The word “that” is the relative pronoun normally used to introduce this clause. Without this clause or phrase, the meaning of the sentence changes.
      18. Literally -- this word means that exactly what you say is true, no metaphors or analogies. Be aware of this if you are using "literally" to describe something. The term literally should never be applied to subjective expressions [i.e., "literally the most comfortable meeting"] or to imprecise measurements [i.e., "literally dozens of protesters"].
      19. Lonely quotes –- unlike in journalistic writing, quotes in scholarly writing cannot stand on their own as a sentence. Integrate them into a paragraph.
      20. Misuse and abuse of semicolons –- semicolons are used to separate two related independent clauses or to separate items in a list that contains commas. Do not abuse semicolons by using them often; they are best used sparingly.
      21. Overuse of unspecific determinates -- words such as "super" [as in super strong] or "very" [as in very strong], are unspecific determinates. How many/much is "very"? How incredibly awesome is super? If you ask ten people how cold, "very cold" is, you would get ten different answers. Academic writing should be precise, so eliminate as many unspecific determinants as possible.
      22. Semicolon usage -- a semicolon is most often used to separate two complete but closely related clauses. Consider the semicolon as marking a shorter pause than a period but a longer pause than a comma (this is easy to remember since a semicolon is the combination of a period and a comma). In the same way, semicolons are also used to separate complicated lists of three or more items.
      23. Sentence fragments –- these occur when a dependent clause is punctuated as a complete sentence. Dependent clauses must be used together with an independent clause.
      24. Singular words that sound plural -- when using words like "each," "every," "everybody," "nobody," or "anybody" in a sentence, we're likely thinking about more than one person or thing. But all these words are grammatically singular: they refer to just one person or thing at a time. And unfortunately, if you change the verb to correct the grammar, you create a pedantic phrase like "he or she" or "his or her."
      25. Split Infinitive -- an infinitive is the form of a verb that begins with "to." Splitting an infinitive means placing another word or words between the "to" and the infinitive verb. This is considered incorrect by purists, but nowadays it is considered a matter of style rather than poor grammar. Nevertheless, in academic writing, it's best to avoid split infinitives.
      26. Subject/pronoun disagreement –- there are two types of subject/pronoun disagreements. Shifts in number refer to the shifting between singular and plural in the same sentence. Be consistent. Shifts in person occurs when the person shifts within the sentence from first to second person, from second to third person, etc.
      27. That vs. which -- that clauses (called restrictive) are essential to the meaning of the sentence; which clauses (called nonrestrictive) merely add additional information. In general, most nonrestrictive clauses in academic writing are incorrect or superfluous. While proofreading, go on a "which" hunt and turn most of them into restrictive clauses. Also, "that" never follows a comma but "which" does.
      28. Verb Tense Agreement -- this refers to keeping the same tense [past, present, future] throughout a clause. Do not shift from one tense to another if the time for each action or event is the same. Note that, when referring to separate actions or events, the tenses may be different.
      29. Who / whom -- who is used as the subject of the clause it introduces; whom is used as the object of a preposition, as a direct object, or as an indirect object. A key to remembering which word to use is to simply substitute who or whom with a pronoun. If you can substitute he, she, we, or they in the clause, and it still sounds okay, then you know that who is the correct word to use. If, however, him, her, us, or them sounds more appropriate, then whom is the correct choice for the sentence.

      Writing Tip

      Grammar and Spell Check Programs Are Not Infallible

      A basic proofreading strategy is to use the spelling and grammar check tools available from your word processing programs. This can be a quick way to catch misspelled words, unintentionally repeated words [e.g., "the the"], different spellings of proper nouns, or identify incorrect grammar and sentence construction. These tools, however, are not perfect. Always proofread what has been “corrected” after running a spell or grammar program for the following reasons:

      Spell Checkers: There are several limitations to be aware of. Research has shown that “spell checkers alone cannot eliminate the written expression deficits of many students with learning disabilities” [Montgomery, 2001: 28]. Examples of this can include identifying contextual errors, such as, writing “then” for "than" or misusing homophones, such as, “to,” “too,” or “two.” If you have a learning disability, be extra aware of these issues when running a spell checker. Also, the level of a mismatch between a misspelled word and the target word provided in the list of suggested words determines whether the target word is available to choose from [or whether there are no suggestions]. In these cases, correct the word as best you can and rerun the spell checker to see if the target word appears or use a different word with the same meaning. Finally, if computer-assisted spell checking identifies two or more spellings of a proper noun in your paper [e.g.,  Allison, Alison ], then you will need to independently confirm the correct spelling. This is particularly important for proper nouns of people, places, or things derived from languages other than English if that is your first language.

      Grammar Checkers: Beyond correcting obvious errors, these tools will suggest how to rearrange text based on the preferred way of writing a sentence. This, however, does not necessarily mean the sentence was grammatically incorrect to begin with; the program's algorithm may have been tagged it as “awkward.” The word structure of English can be arranged in different ways while retaining the meaning of a sentence. Therefore, if you accept a grammar checker’s changes, review the new sentence and determine if the auto corrected text still reflects the context of what you want to say and how you want to say it. Also, check the narrative flow of the paragraph. Does the preceding and following sentences around the new text still retain the narrative flow that you originally intended [i.e., the author's voice]? If not, you may need to further edit the paragraph.

      Writing Concisely

      Academic writing in the social sciences often examines abstruse topics that require in-depth analysis and explanation. As a result, a common challenge to writing college-level research papers is expressing your thoughts clearly by utilizing language that communicates essential information unambiguously. When you proofread your paper, critically review your writing style and the terminology you used throughout your paper. Pay particular attention to identifying and editing the following categories of imprecise writing.

      Problems with Wordiness – the use of more words than is necessary to communicate a thought, concept, or idea.

      • Cliches – these are phrases that have become bland and ordinary through overuse. Besides indicating lazy thinking because they are often used as a substitute for carefully considering what to say, cliches should not be used due to the fact that they're often embedded within a specific cultural context. For example, if you say, "The Iraqi diplomat is going out on a limb if he does not protect his country's economic interests during negotiations with the United States." Americans may understand what it means to be “going out on a limb” [this reflects the act of being vulnerable derived from the sport of hunting–get it?], but would someone from another culture know what this means?
      • Intensifiers – these include modifying words, such as, very, literally, radically, definitely, significantly, greatly, extremely, moderately, basically, exceptionally, obviously, really, uncommonly, etc. Intensifiers create the illusion of accentuating words but, in academic writing, intensifiers actually have the opposite effect because they do not covey anything measurable. And editing intensifiers does not imply exchanging the term “extremely large” with the word “huge”; if something is unusual or it needs highlighting, quantify its uniqueness and place it in a comparative context [e.g., instead of saying, “ extremely large increase in hospital visitations,” state as, “...a 45% increase in hospital visitations since 2010”]. If there is no data to quantify the phenomena, then describe its significance using precise language [e.g., "Evidence that hospital visitations are increasing may impact the quality of patient services because there are no indications that staffing levels will be increased in the foreseeable future"].
      • Nominalizations – this refers to a verb, adjective, or adverb that has been converted into a noun or noun phrase. Although this practice is not grammatically incorrect, overuse of nominalizations can clutter your writing. Examples include: "take action," "draw conclusions," and "make assumptions." These phrases can be reduced to: "act," "conclude," and "assume." Other nominalizations take the form of adding derivational suffixes to a verb, such as, --ance (deliver to deliverance) or -ize (modern to modernize). Editing the action of the sentence back into a bare infinitive verb [the most basic form of a verb] will undo the nominalization, making the sentence more succinct and easier to read.
      • Stock phrases – this refers to phrases that compromise clarity in your writing by adding unnecessary complexity to the sentence; stock phrases are similar to cliches in that they are overused terms. Examples include: “has the ability to,” “due to the fact that,” “regardless of the fact,” or “at this point in time.” Stock phrases often can and should be reduced to one word. Therefore, the above phrases can be reduced to “can,” “because,” although,” and “now.”
      • Verbal phrases– these are also phrases that contribute little or no meaning to the overall sentence. They are similar to stock phrases but can be reduced to a single action verb. Examples include: “to come to a conclusion,” "to take into consideration," or “to make a determination.” The above phrases can be reduced to “conclude,” "consider," or “determine."

      Problems with Redundancy – the use of words or phrases that possess the same or almost the same meaning.

      • Implied modifiers (similar meaning) – implied modifiers can refer to the meaning of a word or phrase possessing the same or very similar meaning of the modifier. These types of modifying words can be subtle and difficult to locate but eliminating them will help clarify your writing. There are two ways to edit these modifiers. For example, if you say, “The next decision of the Supreme Court is difficult to anticipate in advance.” Think about the implied meaning of "anticipate in advance"; if something is expected to happen in advance, it is inherently going to be next and be anticipatory. Restate the sentence using only one of those words [e.g., "The next decision of the Supreme Court is difficult to anticipate" or "It will be difficult to anticipate the next decision of the Supreme Court"].
      • Implied modifiers (incomplete thought) – implied modifiers can also suggest an incomplete thought about the subject of the sentence. Consider the following statement: “The maritime negotiations between Japan and China remain a difficult challenge.” It can be implied that any type of challenge is difficult. However, by inserting an explanation [“because”] within the sentence, you expand the thought more completely. Therefore, you can either say, “The maritime negotiations between Japan and China remain a challenge because it is difficult to...,” or you can say, “The maritime negotiations between Japan and China remain difficult because the main challenge is....” 
      • NOTE: This form of implied modifiers demonstrates that the act of writing concisely isn't simply about reducing the number of words you use; it is also an act of effectively expressing specifically what you mean to say.
      • Paired synonyms – words paired together that have the same basic meaning may sound appealing when read aloud but they are unnecessary. Examples include: each and every, peace and quiet, first and foremost, alter or change, true and accurate, true and correct, always and forever. Choose only one word from the pairing that reflects the meaning you are trying to convey or use a thesaurus to find a word that more accurately reflects your thoughts. Other word pairings are over-used catch phrases, such as, “first and foremost,” "end result," "various differences," "sudden crisis," or “completely eliminate.” They are redundant and re-state the obvious; choose only one word or eliminate them altogether.

      Problems with Unclear Sentence Constructions -- short, declarative sentences are easier to comprehend than lengthy narratives.

      • Active voice – some professors, particularly in business, technical, or scientific writing courses, may prefer that you write papers using a passive voice because they want you to convey information objectivity by using an authoritative tone that focuses on the main idea or recommended action rather than the conscious intent underlying the idea or action. However, the passive voice frequently requires more words than is necessary to covey a thought or idea. Unless instructed not to do so, write using an active voice. Here is an example: Passive–"It is believed by the state legislature that a person’s picture on their drivers license must be updated every five years" [21 words]. In the active voice, the sentence would read: "The state legislature believes that a drivers license picture must be updated every five years" [15 words]. Note here as well the phrase, “a person’s drivers license”; who else would own a drivers license but a person? The word “person’s” is redundant and can also be deleted.
      • Combining sentences – it is often true that writing shorter, declarative sentences helps the reader better understand the content and meaning of each thought or idea. However, it is also the case that two or more sentences may be combined to convey the information more effectively using fewer words. Review your paper and look for paragraphs that appear wordy. This may indicate opportunities to condense sentences. Here is an example: “The BP oil spill occurred in 2010. This oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico prompted greater attention to regulating offshore drilling. Among these regulations was a rule governing procedures for capping wells.” These three sentences can be combined to read: “The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico prompted greater attention to regulatory procedures for capping offshore drilling wells.” All of the essential information remains, but it is stated more concisely.

      Access to a wide variety of free tools, research templates, and guidelines can be obtained by visiting our website, which can be found here. We are always ready to provide you with comprehensive research guidance and project support in the event that you ever need assistance with writing your research project, review journal, article, or dissertation. At HAMNIC Solutions, our team of professionals and research experts is always ready to guide you through your research journey.

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