Skip to main content

Writing a Paper: Revising for Focused Ideas

Revising for Focused Ideas

The following statement presents broad ideas with no clear focus:

Needs Improvement: Literacy rates are plummeting at alarming scale, and this devastating problem will continue as long as wrong-minded policy makers support ill-advised legislation that forces otherwise very good teachers to teach to the test.

The writer has presented generalizations and opinionated language rather than specifics about this topic.  Literacy rates for which student populations are falling?  Who, exactly, are the "wrong-minded policy makers" and which law, precisely, is the "ill-advised legislation" discussed here?  Every paper or capstone chapter needs a specific focus, and all research writing requires objective language.

Revision: Low online literacy skills among middle-school students can magnify other academic weaknesses.  Hutchison and Henry (2010) found that seventh-grade students at risk for dropping out of school demonstrated limited skills for educational Internet use.  If struggling students cannot evaluate the quality of information available on websites, then their lack of evaluation skills could adversely affect their grades on research projects.  These lower grades could in turn contribute to an even greater risk of their dropping out of school.

The ideas in this revised paragraph are more focused. This paragraph provides more detail for your readers, too, including your specific topic (online literacy skills), population (middle-school students), and related issues (effects of low online literacy skills on achievement).