Week 11: Finalizations

Well, we’ve made it to Week 11. Next week, I’ll be done with my article and sending it out to be judged. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Week 10 was all about micro-level edits. Belcher’s diagnostic test has you color-coding sentence-level problems in your paper, which makes for a pretty, multi-colored thing at the end of the day. Of course, the prettier it is, the more edits you have to make. My biggest problem was probably wordiness – using many (often little) words when I could have used one or two. Though it took some time to run the test, and to go through the paper to improve the individual sentences, it was a nice break from the big thinking and macro editing of the previous weeks.

In preparation for the final week, Week 11 is all about putting the finishing touches on the big parts of your paper – introduction, literature review, argument, evidence, conclusion. Belcher opens the chapter for this week with a section titled “The Perils of Perfection.” In pointing out that 1) there’s no such thing as perfection, really 2) imperfections are a good thing because it opens up critical dialogue with your reviewers 3) all stalling — often in the name of perfection — at this point is related to fear, Belcher encourages the reader to let go of the imperfections so that you can actually finish the thing. The rest of this very short chapter (literally 4 pages, including the time-tracking calendar) leads you through the process of finalizing the main parts of you paper by reviewing the aims and activities of the weeks dedicated to those respective parts.

  • Day 1: Read through page 268, start documenting your time, and review your paper for final general edits. Also, return to Week 3, review the instructions on improving your paper’s argument, and make corrections as necessary.
  • Day 2: Finalize the related literature review and bibliography. Return to Week 5.
  • Day 3: Finalize the introduction. Return to Week 8, focusing on the section about introductions.
  • Day 4: Finalize the evidence and structure. Return to Week 6 and Week 7, with the aim of improvement rather than overhaul. You may need to set aside several hours for this day’s task.
  • Day 5: Finalize the conclusion and, if you haven’t already, make sure you’ve chosen a journal. Return again to Week 8, this time focusing on that chapter’s section on conclusions.

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When you’re approaching the end of a task, do you find yourself stalling? If so, what do you do to get yourself back on track? If not, what’s your strategy to keep yourself motivated?

For all posts related to this project: Week 0 (Introduction), Week 1 (The writing plan), Week 2 (Getting started), Week 3 (Arguments), Week 4 (Choosing a journal), Week 5 (Literature review), Week 6 (Article structure), Week 7 (Evidence), Week 8 (Strengthening the intro and conclusion), Week 9 (Giving and receiving feedback), Week 10 (Editing), Week 12 (Send!)

Week 10: Editing at the Micro-level

Much of the previous weeks’ work focused on macro-level edits – introduction, conclusion, literature review, overall paper structure. At the beginning of the Week 10 chapter, Belcher notes that this is the most difficult type of editing and one that many writers avoid. I can sympathize with the feeling. As I noted in my Week 9 post, I had done so much reworking as a result of the Week 8 activities (and the ones before it as well), that I needed two weeks to get my paper in good enough shape that it could be sent for feedback. I stayed on schedule and my partner and I are now ready to proceed to Week 10, which takes us to the micro-level stage of editing – working on individual sentences, word choice, and grammar.

To facilitate this process, Belcher has created what she calls the “Belcher Diagnostic Test,” which she divides into three parts – words that might need to be cut, words that might need to be added, and words that might need to be changed. The aim of this test is to ensure that your paper is as clear and concise as possible. Other types of sentence-level problems – relating to punctuation and quotation marks, italics and bold face, acronyms, proper names, hyphens, spelling, and grammar – fall into a general category for editing not part of the Belcher Test, and, which Belcher notes, aren’t as important for the initial submission of your article.

Week 10 tasks:

  • Day 1: Read through page 253 and start documenting your time.
  • Day 2: Read pages 253 to 258 and run the Belcher Diagnostic Test (you can do this by hand, with a paper copy and colored pencils, or electronically, using the search and text coloring functions on your word processor).
  • Day 3: Read pages 258 to 262 and revise your article based on the Test from Day 2.
  • Day 4: Continue revisions.
  • Day 5: Read pages 262 to 265 and correct other types of problem sentences.

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If you like editing, which do you prefer – the macro or the micro?

For all posts related to this project: Week 0 (Introduction), Week 1 (The writing plan), Week 2 (Getting started), Week 3 (Arguments), Week 4 (Choosing a journal), Week 5 (Literature review), Week 6 (Article structure), Week 7 (Evidence), Week 8 (Strengthening the intro and conclusion), Week 9 (Giving and receiving feedback), Week 11 (Finalizing the article), Week 12 (Send!)