How do we do it? While each paper is different and requires a unique approach, we have found that our work adheres generally to the following five tips.
Tip 1: Answer the Question
Every paper must respond to a prompt. This could be an argument, a statement or an inquiry, and in responding to it the paper seeks to answer a question. Most students understand this, but what many miss is answering the question in a balanced, comprehensive manner.
Take for example a prompt to analyze the development of a particular health care policy and its effect on low-income rural populations. While this prompt is simply stated, it is relatively complex. It is balanced equally between the development of the policy and the effect it has had, but to respond adequately to it requires deeper thinking. For example, what was the intended goal of the policy? What problem did it seek to address? Who were the intended beneficiaries? What would be the costs involved? How would the costs be covered? Who would be paying for them?
The paper also needs to analyze the policy’s effect on low-income rural populations. What exactly were those populations, and what was their relationship to the policy. Were they the intended beneficiaries of the health care policy? Did they benefit completely, partially or not at all? How so, specifically?
Tip 2: Follow the Instructions
However, it is not enough simply to answer the question. It is also necessary to follow all instructions given for the paper. For example, was the paper required to use at least five references? Was it required to adhere to a particular style guide like APA? Has a rubric been provided detailing guidelines to be used for the paper? If so, all of its rules need to be followed
Tip 3: Get to the Point
Knowing what information to include in a paper is important, but just as important is knowing how to present it in an efficient and effective manner. The best writing starts from a clear, distinct point and progresses efficiently along its path. Every phrase, sentence and paragraph is carefully considered; no word is wasted. The challenge for many writers is to know where exactly more is needed and when less would serve the paper better. An experienced paper editor can address these concerns, and in doing so explain exactly which changes to make and why.
Tip 4: Don’t Commit Plagiarism
Everyone knows that copying someone else’s work and pretending it is your own constitutes plagiarism. Those who do this do not realize how obvious it is to both their professors and experienced paper editors. While this is the commonly known form of plagiarism, it is not the only one, and the other forms are just as likely to have a detrimental effect on the paper.
A more comprehensive view of plagiarism includes not paraphrasing correctly, not quoting others when appropriate, and not adhering to the required style guidelines when citing a source and listing the references. The paraphrasing needs to be entirely in the author’s own words and fit the tone and style of the paper, material that is not commonly known and not the author’s original needs to be cited, and references need to contain all the information required by the style guidelines. Any deficiency in any of these areas falls under copying someone else’s work and constitutes plagiarism.
Tip 5: Correct All Proofreading Errors
While one or two proofreading errors may not make a difference, if a paper accomplishes all the above but has too many typographical, grammar or punctuation errors, it will communicate that the author has been lazy in writing it. Either consciously or subconsciously, the person reviewing the paper will think, “If the author has not bothered to correct these errors, then why should I bother reading it?” Inevitably this will affect his or her opinion of the paper.
How Professional Paper Editing Can Help
The above tips represent common ways in which an author can fall short of the goals for a paper, and in many cases it is not the author’s fault. As with any writing, because the author is too close to the material, it can be difficult for him or her to evaluate the paper objectively. This is where professional paper editors like the ones at DLA Editors & Proofers can help. We can tell you exactly where the deficiencies lie and specifically how to address them, before you hand it in to your professor.