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One of the most important steps in writing a successful dissertation is feedback. Feedback, proofreading, and revising are as important in writing a dissertation as doing research or the actual writing of the dissertation. Feedback can seem discouraging, yet when the dissertation is finished, the feedback will make a vital difference in the quality of dissertation. Whether the feedback comes from friends, fellow students, instructors, or others; feedback will make a difference.
A great place to get feedback is a local writer's group. Explain to them what you are doing and ask for they would proofread a few pages at a time. Many writers' groups have a limit on how many pages can be read at time. Become friends with some of the members and ask them if they would critique parts of it.
Ask friends if they would edit parts of the dissertation. Encourage friends to be honest and tell them that it will not hurt your feelings because any type of writing requires honest appraisal. Tell your friends what type of feedback you want. Some parts of the dissertation will be focused on different areas such as thesis, premises, evidence, methods, and etc. If you need to know if the thesis is clear, ask them if they think the thesis is clear and if others could understand it.
Before having anyone give you feedback about your custom dissertation, go to the store and buy highlighters and red ink pens. Ask them to use these during their editing so you can clearly see what needs to be done.
Have someone consider the relationship between your PhD thesis and the dissertation. Is it clear? What needs to be changed to make it clear? What does the thesis lack to give clear meaning? Taking this problem to a writer's group where several people can voice their opinions is a good way to know what the thesis needs or if the thesis is on tract with what you plan to do in the dissertation.
Transitions are often difficult for most people so having someone look at the transitions is important. Have someone go through parts of the dissertation looking at just the transitions from one paragraph to another. Ask them to circle or highlight where transitions are not clearly made or perhaps you have not used a transition.
While using a spell-checker is beneficial, it is still important to have someone give you feedback about spelling. Some words the spell checker does not catch such as there, their, they're or it's and its. Using the right word is important. The advisor and academic committee expects a dissertation that is free of errors especially spelling errors.
Have someone give you feedback about punctuation. This is an important area that should be error free. Have someone skim the paper looking for comma splices, introductory commas, and other forms of punctuation. Have you put a period where a question mark should be? Have you forgotten any commas?
Another major mistake made on reports and dissertations is fragments. It is easy to write a fragment and believe that it is a sentence. Have someone give you feedback on any fragments.
Ask someone to check for subject-verb agreement and pronoun reference and agreement. While this seems like simple things, they are often noticed by the academic committee.
Another important part of proofreading is to edit for any words that may be missing. Sometimes a person leaves out a word and does not realize it. Simple words like a, and, but, etc. can be left out.
Often it is difficult to see the dissertation marked with different editing problems after spending hours, days, and months writing it. However, a good sign of a great proofreader is a report of dissertation that has every sentence marked with some type of correction. While it may be difficult to hear someone talk negatively about your work, the truth is this is a beneficial part of writing the thesis or dissertation. Encourage those proofreading your work to be honest and genuine in showing your mistakes so they can be corrected before you hand in the dissertation.
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