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Revising & Self-Editing a Doctoral Capstone

Transcripts for the Writing Center's webinars.

Revising & Self-Editing a Doctoral Capstone

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Presented December 11, 2018

Last updated 2/1/2019



Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping 

  • Recording
    • Webinar is being recorded and will be available online a day or two from now.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive. 
  • Q&A
    • Now:Use the Q&A box.
    • Later:Send to
  • Help
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar room

Audio: Beth: All right well, hello everyone, and thank you so much for joining us today. My name is Beth Nastachowski. And I'm just going to get us started by going over a couple of quick housekeeping notes before I hand this session over to our presenter today, Carey. 

So, a couple of quick things here, the first is, I that have started the recording of this session, so if you have to leave for any reason or you’d like to come back and review this session, you are more than welcome to do so. We’ll be posting this recording in our webinar recordings archive and that’s available anytime. I’d also like to take a moment here to remind everyone that we record all of the webinars in the writing center, so if you ever see a webinar that’s being presented live and you can’t attend at that time, please feel free to access the recordings archive it will be available there and we always have all of the sessions listed there as well. So, if you’re ever looking for help on a particular writing, APA or grammar topic, that's a great place to go.

I also wanted to note that there are lots of ways for you to interact both with Carey our presenter as well as Sam one of our facilitators and your fellow Walden students. I know Carey has a poll, a couple of polls and some chats that she’ll be using throughout the session to engage you with. And there are also links throughout these slides to further resources and information. So, feel free to click those links they are live right now during this session. And they’ll open up on a new tab in your browser. You can take a look at them during this session or afterwards. 

Additionally, it's always helpful to download the slides, and that way you have access to the examples as well as the links that are throughout them as well. And those files are available in the files for download section at the bottom, right corner of your screen. If you take a look at that, the slides are listed there, along with a number of other handouts. So, please feel free to download all of those and save them to your computer so you can take a look at them during the session or later. If you aren't able to download them now during the session, you always can go back to the recording and download them there, as well. They are also available there as well via the recordings.

We also have a Q&A box on the right side of the screen, and so we welcome your questions or comments throughout the session. We want to make sure that we clarify anything that might be confusing to you and we get your questions answered. Sam and myself will be monitoring that, so we welcome those questions and comments throughout the session. And then we will also be sure to let Carey know if there are questions that would be helpful for her to address out loud to the entire group. 

Whoever, also note that at the end of the session, if we can't get to all the questions -- sometimes there's a big rush at the end or if you think of a question after the session, please feel free to email us at editor@mail.waldenu.eduand the editors would be happy to take your question there, as well. 


And then finally if you have any technical questions or issues, please feel free to let me know in that Q&A box, I have a couple tips and tricks I can give you. But there's also the Help button at the top right-hand corner, as well. And that’s a great place to go if you have any significant technical issues with the webinar recording here.


Visual:Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Revising and Self-Editing a Doctoral Capstone” and the speaker’s name and information: Carey Little Brown, Dissertation Editor Office of Academic Editing, Walden Writing Center

Audio:All right and so with that, then, Carey, I will hand it over to you.

Carey:Thanks, Beth. Hi, I’m Carey Little Brown, and I am one of the Dissertation Editors in what is now called the Office of Academic Editing in the Walden Writing Center. And the group that I’m in is responsible chiefly for the Form and Style review, which most of you have probably heard something about. That happens near the end of the capstone approval process, after the final URR review and before the oral presentation. During that process, we look at and actually do some editing in and make suggested changes to every document, spending between 6 and 10 hours with each document. 

So, this presentation on revising and self-editing the doctoral capstone is very close to my heart and I think, too, the hearts of those on my team, because this is very much central to the work that I do. And so, I'm excited about sharing some techniques that we've developed for revising and proofreading that I know I apply, actually, when working with my own academic writing, as well in my work as the Form and Style editor. I hope that will be useful to you.

As Beth mentioned, we are going to be having some polls and chats throughout this presentation so I can get a little more information about your experiences with revising and editing in doctoral writing.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Learning Outcomes: 

After this webinar, you should be able to …


•      Understand how to prioritize revision and proofreading tasks when preparing a doctoral capstone manuscript

•      Identify good revision practices when working with a longer document, over a long period of time, with multiple rounds of feedback

•      Develop skills for proofreading and polishing a manuscript for grammar, style, and scholarly writing expectations

•      Access support resources for revising and self-editing doctoral capstone documents

Audio: So, there are four primary things that we are going to do in this session. Ideally, after this webinar is over, you should be able to do the following: understand how to prioritize revision and proofreading tasks when you're preparing your doctoral capstone, how to think about kind of segmenting and ordering those tasks. That's actually a big part of this presentation, is thinking about how to approach that in terms of strategy. And, we're going to talk about revision, generally, after outlining what I would propose are the differences between revision and proofreading. We will talk about revision, then, and what are some good strategies to use when you're working with a longer document like a capstone over a much longer period of time then you may have worked on any document previously, where you are receiving multiple rounds of feedback from multiple people who may have their own focuses and agendas that you have to reconcile in all of your revisions.

Then, we're going to talk about the more granular proofreading tasks and what’s involved in polishing that manuscript to produce that really professional final study. And then at the end of the presentation, I'll be introducing a variety of resources that we offer through the Writing Center and other centers at Walden that can be especially helpful to you as you're revising and editing, proofreading your work.

As Beth mentioned, please feel free to ask questions in the Q&A box. I will let Sam know, too, feel free to interrupt me at any point if there is any need for clarification or expansion on anything that we're talking about.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Revising and Proofreading at the Capstone Writing Stage


·      Addresses global or “big picture” concerns of a draft (organization, focus, content/idea development, and flow/cohesion)

·      Should be done first, as this could change, add, or eliminate smaller, local-level concerns


·      Addresses local or “small picture” concerns of a draft (grammar, citations and references, sentence construction, and word choice)

•      Should be done as the final step before submitting

Audio:Okay, as I mentioned on the last slide, one of the ideas in this presentation is that there is a useful distinction that can be made between revising as a task and proofreading as a task. And this slide gets to the heart of that. 

So, the idea behind revising in this model is that revising is more of a global or big picture task. When you’re revising, you're looking at issues of content and meaning and flow and overall kind of macro structure of the argument. And again, I think of revision as being a very content and meaning driven kind of process. So, at that point, you're looking at, when you're revising the draft, you're looking at organization, idea development, clarity and coherence, the flow from one idea to the next within paragraphs and between paragraphs, that kind of thing.

We tend to say, among the form and style editors we're advising students at earlier stage of the process in some of the other capacities that we work that that revising should be approached first, because as you’re moving that content around and changing that content in the micro, structural, you are making broader changes that could end up undoing that more granular level polishing. So, it tends to be most productive to deal with the broad revision tasks, first. And that can be a fairly lengthy stage of the writing and revision project.

And then in contrast, proofreading, then, is what you might think of as copyediting or, we often use the term proofreading to talk about this. It’s addressing more of that granular, local, small picture issues in the draft. Are you following APA rules for your citations and references, and for different kinds of formal things like the use of numbers, that kind of thing? Are your, are all of your verbs presented correctly, have all of your tenses correct? Are you using full and complete sentences? Are you choosing the best words to convey the individual ideas? Proofreading tends to work more at that word or sentence level. Revision works more at the kind of paragraph, chapter and argument kind of level.

So, proofreading is that final kind of pass or number of passes that you will do in your work before you submit that very final draft. Although of course, there are going to be proofreading stages throughout the capstone process, too, as you're completing and submitting your best versions of various components of the work to the people who are reading them.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Revising and Proofreading at the Capstone Writing Stage

You will not be able to address everything at once! Part of self-editing is learning to prioritizeand plan forchanges to your document.

•      Decide on a handful of things to focus on in each round of revision, moving from “big picture” to “small picture” concerns

•      Divide the draft into pieces, revising in shorter sections first

Audio: Now, one thing to keep in mind as you're going about what can be, sometimes, a kind of overwhelming feeling process of approaching the self-editing of your own work throughout writing the capstone is that it’s usually, I would say, certainly for me, despite having edited for many years, I simply cannot address everything in a text in one pass. And I think most of my colleagues would agree with me. 

And I think if you try to do that, it makes for a very frustrating process. I would argue -- and I think there is some basis for this, although I certainly can't offer you some real solid citations about this, but I'm sure they exist -- I think that the argument level of your writing really uses a different part of the mind. It certainly feels that way for me, then that more granular, making sure all my punctuation is correct and spell-checking part of my mind. And the load of trying to keep all of these active really is too much, I think, for most people. 

Part of being an effective self-editor is learning how to prioritize, order and plan for the various stages of revision and proofreading in your document. And a general principal guiding that, that I have found useful in my own approach as I said, to my own work as well as other people's work, is deciding what I'm focusing on in a specific task if I'm doing an intensive editing of a document, and to move, again, from the big picture concerns to the small picture concerns, usually in separate passes through it. Dividing the draft into pieces when you're revising your own work can be really helpful, not trying to run a marathon unless you really want that kind of immersive focus. Thinking about how to segment that work and how to segment the editing task into manageable pieces can be really helpful.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Revising and Proofreading at the Capstone Writing Stage

            Keep these three things in mind throughout the process:

•      Did I address the requirements for my degree program?

•      Did I present the best version of what I wanted to say?

•      Did I follow my faculty’s guidance and recommendations?


Audio: So, there's some general questions to keep in mind as you're revising and proofreading your capstone, throughout the process. Are you addressing the requirements of your degree program? And we’ll be talking a bit more about the resources you can use to ascertain that you're doing now. Are you presenting the best version of what you wanted to say? Are you presenting your content in the most effective, most streamlined, most focused, and most coherent way? And are you following the guidance and recommendations of your faculty so that you can move forward into the next step of that approval process?


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Poll

How long do you typically spend revising a draft between submissions?

Audio: So, we're going to talk a little bit more about this broad revision, you know, content driven approach. But before that, I have a poll I was curious to see how you answered. The question is, how long do you typically spend revising a draft between submissions? And by that, we mean when you have to submit something to your chair or other faculty and you get it back. How long do you take with that draft, on average, before you submit it again? 

I see some responses coming in. I'll give that a few more moments. 

[silence as students respond]

And this is always really fun for me to see, because this is part of this process that, as a Form and Style editor, I don't have as much exposure to. 

It looks like there's a clear winner on the results, although I see, I think, okay, it looks like we might be, I think we might be done getting responses. It looks like most people are saying a few days, about 72%. And that seems reasonable to me. And of course, there's going to be I some people who are saying a few weeks. 19% saying several hours. There's no right answer to any of this. I think that's interesting to see. I think a few days or longer can be really helpful just in spreading out that process, I think it helps to not feel quite so time pressured and frustrated. Not that this process ever gets frustrating. [LAUGHS] I think perhaps sometimes it can. 

Okay, thank you for contributing to that, I think that's interesting. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revision and the Doctoral Capstone Writing Process

Check out the Revision Strategies and 

Revision Checklist documents available to 

download in the Files pod in the lower right corner

Audio:As I said, this next section of the presentation focuses on that broader provision part of the editing process when you're working on your capstone. As Beth mentioned, we have quite a few resources that one of my colleagues have developed and they are great, and compiled here. You don't need to open those now, but this could be helpful to you, this kind of supplements the material we are talking about today. 

And relevant to this section, in particular, are the revision strategies document down in the files pod, and the revision checklist. Again, you don't need to open those now unless you want to. We're going to be covering a lot of the same content. It's really for you to use later in ways that are convenient to you.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Linear vs. Iterative Process


•      Collect

•      Organize

•      Outline

•      Write

•      Submit


•      Collect /generate information

•      Organize information into sections and subsections

•      Outline content in sections & subsections

•      Write a draft

•      Read draft (have someone else read it) and revise

Audio:One thing that we stressed -- I think you may have seen this kind of graphic before if you've been to any of our presentations about, say, writing the literature review or approaching revision to your work -- we try to encourage people to think about writing and revision with the capstone not as a linear process where you're collecting your information or data, organizing it, outlining it, writing it, submitting it and boom, you're done. 

Unfortunately, that's typically not the case with something like a capstone with all of its many phases and stages. Instead, it tends to be an iterative process, and more circular, so that you're collecting and generating information, gathering data, searching the literature, etc., organizing all that into sections and subsections for your writing, and that involves some outlining, and then you’re writing the draft. Then when you have material drafted, you are reading it, you’re sending it to other people to read. Then typically, you have gaps to fill in, you’re going back and starting that process again.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revising at the Capstone Stage

•      Do not try to write a perfect first draft

•      Make revisionthe most important stage in your process

•      Give yourself enough time

–     Take time away from your document before rereading

–     Leave room in your schedule to rework what you write

Audio: And so, corollary to that idea of this being an iterative process is that you will be revisiting things. There's no reason to try to write that elusive, perfect first draft of the various sections of your document. You should be planning to go back into it. So, revision is really a key component and arguably the most important component in that process of writing the capstone. 

And so, part of this, of course -- and this sounds a bit preachy, it's something I have had to learn that I am probably still learning in my own writing, is budgeting enough time. Not just for getting the ideas down, but for doing that revision work where your work can really start to make sense and shine and be at its best. A part of that usually is taking some time away from it, getting sleep, allowing your ideas to percolate and leaving room in your schedule to rework what you’ve written.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Global or “Big Picture” Concerns

These affect the draft overall and require abstract thinking and critical assessment of your own work

•      Does it address all requirements?

•      How is it organized? Is there a logical structure to the ideas?

•      Is it coherent? Are the main ideas clear?

•      Do you see any patterns of things you want to fix or change?

Audio:So, what are the global or big picture concerns involved in revision? These are the ones that affect the draft overall. They require abstract kind of broad conceptual thinking, I find, which is why, just being the kind of person I am. If I am going through a document, and I’ve been an editor, academic editor in APA for 16 years, which is kind of embarrassing, but I will tell you, if I have to go into a document and I want to produce perfect APA, I’m going to do fabulous proofreading, I cannot think about meaning, at all. Because I think the kind of abstract thought that's required in meaning development and content development, I think of it as a very separate thing in a lot of ways and I think that may be true for many people than doing that fussing over APA details and so forth. 

And I think critical reading, critical assessment idea development are all part of that abstract process overall revision process. Some of the things you think about at that stage is, as I said before, are you meeting all the requirements of your program? Are you presenting everything you need to present? How are you organizing that argument and content? Are you following the rubrics and checklists for your program? Is the idea development in your literature review logical, or is it kind of all over the place? Are the main ideas emerging from the individual paragraphs and then from the sections that those paragraph compose? Will readers understand what those main ideas are? And are you seeing patterns of things that you want to fix or change as you're reading with this in mind?


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Ways to Develop Revision Skills

•      Be self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses

–     Too wordy? Too terse?

–     Forget topic sentences? Trouble with transitions?

•      Become a peer reviewer

•      See your work as a reader and not the writer

–     Read the document aloud or have it read to you

–     Change how the text looks on the page when you read over it

Audio:So, developing revision skills will be an ongoing process throughout the capstone and for most writers, I would say, throughout life, for people who are doing writing on any level. I think, and I'm sure you developed those skills in previous academic work, you know, to get to this doctoral stage, so, you probably are aware of some of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. And, using revision effectively means really keeping those in mind and looking critically at your work to see where you might want to adjust that. Are you being too flowery and wordy? Do you have a tendency to be so terse and using such short, clipped writing that the writing is perhaps not as interesting as it could be or perhaps doesn't have enough detail so that people understand what you're referring to? Are you good at crafting paragraphs and making them clearly cohere around a main idea? Or do they tend to be a little more awkward or scattered? Being aware of those strengths and weaknesses can help you figure out what to focus on in these revision passes.

I would say, strongly from my own experience as someone who is reading other people's work, frequently that being a peer reviewer or being an editor, basically, whether it's officially or informally for other students, or friends and family, I think can be highly instructive in teaching you ways to look at a document, ways to be critical, ways to be constructive and rework something. Or make suggestions that you can then apply to your own revision process with yourself.

And part of that process and I think the usefulness of the process and peer review is that it gets you into your work as a reader and not necessarily as a writer. Kind of defamiliarization, defamiliarizing your text can be very useful in finding what you might need to do to make that revision as effective as you can. And, we have in some of the files in the file pod under revision strategies and so forth, we have some different strategies there that you can try to get that distance from your work that I think can be really productive when you're thinking about how it flows, how it sounds, how the ideas are coming across.

One thing that I do that people who have lived with me don't necessarily enjoy, but I find very helpful, is when I'm editing something, whether it's my own or someone else's, reading that aloud during one of the passes I think is really helpful in that one, it slows you down enough to really see every word on the page. So, in that sense its useful for proof reading and revision. case it’s really attend to what's there if you have to attend to the words individually. It also allows you to get into a different modality. And I think I kind of hearing it rather than simply reading it, you're engaging with it in a slightly different way. That's an option for you.

So, reading that document aloud or having it read to you can be helpful in that way. One just practical thing that I rely on absolutely every day is changing some of the settings in Microsoft Word when I'm revising a document, actually, when I'm writing, too -- part of this is that I'm over 40, I wear bifocals, I can't necessarily see the computer that well after staring at it for hours but also, I think, for really looking at text, it can be helpful to have that look certain ways or sometimes different ways on the computer. So, for me, that means zooming in using settings in Microsoft Word in the views section, so that is, for me, I used to do 150%, now I do 175 because that's what I need to see all those little spaces and periods and semicolon and so on, accurately. But there are various things that you can do so I would encourage you to experiment with those various settings in Word and all the ways that you can change the way the document looks without actually changing the document. And that is in the view area.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revision Strategy 1: Following degree requirements

•      Become familiar with the guidebook, handbook, checklist, and/or rubric for your degree

–     Visit the Office of Student Research Administration to retrieve professional doctoral and PhD dissertation program documents

•      Follow the appropriate guide or checklist to ensure that your draft includes all necessary information

Audio:So, the next few slides cover some specific revision strategies that you can use and I think of these as, like, you can apply one of the strategies within a specific pass through a section of your document or the document as a whole, and that could be a productive approach.

So, the first one of the strategies has to do with those degree requirements so they’re going to be specific to a program. And while we can't really speak to those in detail as writing specialists at Walden -- because that's really the domain of the individual programs and departments -- we can direct you to where you can find those materials. There's a link on this slide, if you download the slides to the Office Of Student Research Administration, I believe on the left of that page, links to all of the doctoral programs where you can get to the various checklists and rubrics and so on that are going to be used to evaluate the content and structure of your doctoral writing. And those can be really helpful as you're structuring each part of your document.

One thing I think isn't on the slide but that's part of that is, by using the template for your specific program, which you can get on our Form and Style website, that has less information about content in it. However, it does tend to have the basic skeleton of the document there in terms of, certainly, the major chapters. And depending on the program, sometimes some of those required subheadings are in there, and that can be really helpful in thinking about which components you need to add. But the rubrics and checklist from the Office of Student Research Administration are really the critical documents outlining content.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revision Strategy 1: Following degree requirements

•      In your draft:

–     Note in the margins what the checklist or guide requires for each section of your document. 

–     Highlight the passages that address each requirement for that section.

            Visit the Academic Skills Center for more information on using MS Word editing tools.

Audio: So a way that you can leverage that when you're doing revision is using, having like the, whether you like it electronically or printed out in a hard copy, having the checklist or rubric document or documents with you while you're reviewing your draft, and then, you might, depending on your own preferences, develop some kind of system for tracking whether you've met all those requirements. 

That might mean using the comments tool in Microsoft Word to note in the margins what the checklist or guide requires for each section in your document, and then noting to yourself whether you have completed that or not. You know, of course you can also print things out and write by hand on the rubric document, itself, or on your document. But find a system that works for you so that you can really use that to best advantage to guide your revision process.

And there's a link on the slide here, if you download these slides, about, it’s a link to the Academic Skills Center's Microsoft resources where you’ll find more information about how to use comments in Microsoft Word and other tools that could be helpful to you in this process.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revision Strategy 2: Summarize each paragraph and what it’s doing there

•      For some parts of your draft, the program requirements are very prescriptive, and the guide or checklist will provide all the structure you need.

•      For other parts of your draft, such as the literature review, the necessary subsections and the organization of paragraphs depend on your topic, the available literature, and what you determine is the best way to present your synthesized assessment.

•      Paragraph organization strategies such as the MEAL plan can help you determine what is missing from existing body paragraphs in the draft, such as topic sentences.

Audio: Now the second revision strategy that I wanted to cover has to do with paragraph development, and I think that's a major issue for a lot of writers. And it goes, really, to the heart of creating a clear, coherent document, and one that where the ideas flow in a way that readers can follow and that’s engaging the readers, as well. So, this revision strategy is focused on looking at these paragraphs, and thinking about what function each one is serving.

So, as we we’re talking about in the previous section, for some parts of your draft, depending on your program, the requirements and the rubric or checklist may be pretty prescriptive, and so the guide and checklist may be giving you a pretty clear idea what your paragraphs are going to be addressing in the various sections, certainly in some areas of your draft. And the programs really vary in the level of specificity those rubrics and checklist provide. But often there is quite a bit of information there about some of those subsections you need, particularly in, say, the introductory chapter and what you might need to be saying in those subsections.

But then for other parts of the draft like the literature review, you really are going to have to come up with the organization yourself. There’s the, most of the structure of the literature review beyond where you talk about, say, how you did your research in the library and I how you organized your sources and how many you used and so forth, there might be prescriptive information about that, as well as how you talk about, say, your conceptual or theoretical framework in your rubric documents. But particularly, when you get to the meat of the literature review where you're really talking about the content of the literature that informs your own study, your kind of on your own in figuring out how to structure that. That's where really careful paragraph development and outlining can be really important in getting that structure to be logical and effective. 

Now, we talk about the importance of paragraph organization within each paragraph and then also the connection of ideas between paragraphs. For the within the paragraph structure, there's something we often refer to the Writing Center but I believe was developed at Duke University at their Writing Center called the MEAL Plan. And that is a way to organize paragraphs that I think can be extremely helpful in academic writing, specifically, especially when you're talking about the literature when you're dealing with evidence from the literature. And, it's not a structure you absolutely have to use with every paragraph. There's no rule that you must. However, I think that it is extremely helpful in making sure, especially if you're struggling with coherence in your paragraphs and with organization, in general, it can be very helpful in making sure you have all of the elements that you need.


Visual:Slid changes to the following:The MEAL Plan

♦Main Idea ♦Evidence ♦Analysis ♦Lead out

Multiple studies have indicated a strong link between transportation availability and student engagement in extracurricular activities. Author X (2010) argued that the cost of public transportation in the Midwest affected student participation in afterschool activities, which was similar to findings in studies across the country. Author Y (2012) reported that 60% of high school students in the United States relied on school buses to get home, meaning that the majority of students had no alternative means of getting home if they decided to stay after regular school hours. According to Author Z (2009), in a study of afterschool program attendance, most of the participants (74%) received rides home from parents or friends. In addition to transportation availability, researchers have noted a strong correlation between student participation in extracurricular activities and parental involvement . . .

Audio: So, the next slide shows an example, and I don't know how well you can see the specific content here, but of what a MEAL Plan paragraph might look like. MEAL is an acronym. M is Main idea, E is Evidence, A is Analysis and L is Lead out. So, this example shows what that might look like.

So, the main idea is like your thesis or topic sentence. Often that's at the beginning. It doesn't have to be, but the beginning is a convenient place.

And, so in this paragraph here, the main idea sentence is, [READING SLIDE TEXT] “Multiple studies have indicated a strong link between transportation availability and student engagement in extracurricular activities.” 

And so, everything else in this paragraph needs to be in support and related to in some way that main idea sentence. And I would say that whether you're using MEAL plan or not, each of your paragraphs really needs to go here around some clear focus or main idea. And that is one of the most common things when I am advising people earlier in the writing stages before the form and style review, sometimes at the form and style review, is that the argument is difficult to follow, often it is a function of paragraphs not having a single, clear focus. By going through and reordering things a bit so that you really make sure that there is some clear topic you can draw out of each one, you can go a great deal of the way toward making a more coherent argument.

So, then the evidence, which is green in this picture -- and I won’t read all this out -- are these facts from the literature. And in this case, there are some statistics, along with citations, that are supporting that main idea conveyed in red at the beginning paragraph.

Then, just presenting evidence is not enough in academic writing to have a meaningful synthesis at the doctoral level. And I'm sure you have heard about this in other content and other courses and Writing Center materials. That synthesis element needs to be there where you are relating the literature to each other and importantly, to your work. And that's within blue in this MEAL illustration. That's the analysis piece. 

So, you can see, there's phrases like something was “similar to findings some studies across the country," there's another place where the writer here is saying, it's explaining some of the evidence in green by, there's this blue statement explaining what this evidence means. When you're analyzing something, you're making links between ideas, between sources, connections to your own work and interpreting information for your readers.

And then in purple at the end of the paragraph is that lead out sentence. And that can mean a variety of things that you don't have to, I think people sometimes think they have to say, "In my next paragraph, I am going to talk about X." You really don't have to do that, often it's best not to, that can be kind of repetitive. But the function of the lead out sentence is something that gives you a sense of summarizing and raping up of the ideas of the paragraph you have just presented, or a kind of pivot to the next idea that feels natural. So that can take a variety of forms. 

We have lots of great information on our website about the MEAL Plan, lots of great examples and materials. So, if this is an area where you feel like you would like to do some more development, I would strongly encourage you to do that. There's a link here on this slide that you can use when you download the slide deck. 



Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revision Strategy 2: Summarize each paragraph and what it’s doing there

•      In your draft:

–     Note in the margins the main idea of each body paragraph and why it belongs in that section or subsection. 

–     Create an outline based on your marginal notes so you can visualize what is in your draft, where you need to elaborate, what you can reorganize, and where you can condense or combine material.

Audio:So, once you have your material written out, say you have material written out, you’re revising, and you’re being honest with yourself and thinking okay, the revision, the structure of this part of my literature review is not the greatest. I’m getting some feedback from faculty that I'm missing some steps here, this doesn't make, some of the connections between these ideas aren't clear. You can kind of go with that as a sort of first outline by looking at the focus of your paragraphs and that can kind of help you have a structure to maybe have a better outline that becomes the structure for the next draft of your work. 

As so as this slide explains, one way that you can approach that is by creating an actual reverse outline by noting in the margins either by hand or by using comments, maybe, or some other structure, the main idea of each paragraph -- making sure there is one, I guess -- adjusting it as needed, and then noting what the main idea is and then why it belongs in your section or subsection. [PHONE RINGING] I apologize for that.

And then you want to create an outline based on those notes so you can visualize within your draft of where you need to elaborate or reorganize it where you might condense or combine material. All right. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revision Strategy 3: Focus on feedback

•      You will receive different feedback from different people at various stages of doctoral capstone development

•      Your overseeing faculty will focus on different things each time they look at your draft

•      Find a way to keep track of the various sources of feedback and how you will address feedback in your revisions.

Audio: Okay, so the final revision strategy is driven by the feedback that you’ll be receiving from faculty -- possibly from Writing Center staff, at various points -- or other people who would be reading your work. As I said earlier, and as you’ve probably already experienced, you're going to be receiving different feedback from different people throughout the capstone process at different stages. And that can be, sometimes, a little challenging to reconcile all the different feedback in a way that allows you to keep moving forward, allows you to really perfect your work, and while satisfying the wishes of the people who are responsible for overseeing that work. And these faculty are going to be looking at and thinking about different things every time they look at your draft, following the same process we talked about for revision. So, you will need a way to keep track of the different sources of feedback that you had, and the comments that you received, and how do you plan to address that feedback in your own revisions?


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Revision Strategy 3: Focus on feedback

•      In your draft:

–     Read over all comments carefully and make a list of the global, “big picture” concerns your overseeing faculty members want you to address 

–     Note in the margins each time you see the issue or pattern of error in your draft

–     Look back over the document as a whole and strategize how best to address faculty concerns

Audio: So, when you get something back with feedback on it, it's of course important to read over all the comments carefully, and then, when you're thinking about not those granular, APA and proof-reading level errors, but the big errors, it can be useful to make a list of the global, big picture concerns that your faculty would like you to address. And then one way you can go back through your document and a revision pass is to note in the margins each time you see that issue or pattern of error in your draft so that you can think about how to fix that, and then develop a strategy for how best to address those concerns.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Poll:

Which errors do you find it the most difficult to identify and correct?

Audio:Okay, so I know that was a lot of information about different ideas for revision. The next section is going to be on proofreading, which, again, is more granular issues in the draft. Preparing for that, I'm curious, which errors, in terms of proofreading, do you find as the most difficult to identify and correct? And you should see a number of choices. I’ll give that a moment.

[silence as students take poll]

Okay. It looks like a few responses are still coming in. 

I see that we have a winner this time, although the votes, the vote is more evenly split than the last poll. But it looks like the winner so far is grammar errors, verb tense and sentence structure. While we won’t be talking about specific errors in this session, we will be guiding you to some resources that should be useful to you and some more ideas about how to approach that task and how to leverage those resources to make it worthwhile. Word choices and word meaning errors, that’s interesting too. I see that one is almost as many people said that. And that does get to be, sometimes, a complex and time-consuming revision task. That's why it can be helpful, too, to have a peer reviewer or another set of eyes on your work. I also see citations and references and APA. I know that is a big one, there's so many rules. Fortunately, we do have lots of concrete resources that you can use towards the end that I think make it a little more manageable. And layout and template stuff I see got some votes, too. Thank you, thank you for filling that out, that's very interesting for me to see.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Proofreading and Polishing a Capstone Draft

Check out the Grammar Journal, 

Grammar Journal Example, and 

Proofreading Tips documents 

available to download in the Files pod 

in the lower right corner

Audio: All right. So, we're going to be talking in this section about proofreading and polishing your capstone draft. And there's some resources highlighted here on this slide that you can download later or you can get them now, they're in the Files pod, but you don't need to look at them now, we're not using them for the presentation. But I think they can be useful. There's a grammar journal, if grammar is your particular issue that you're dealing with a lot in feedback and revisions, the grammar journal can be a helpful structure to keep track of those things that you're working on revising and mastering in your work. And there's an example there, too, and there's a proofreading tips document that compiles some of the things that we're going to be talking about in the next few slides.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Proofreading at the Capstone Stage

•      Everyone—even professional writers and editors—needs to proofread

•      Wait until you are happy with the content before you start polishing

•      Give yourself enough time

–     Electronic tools can be helpful but cannot substitute for reading line by line

–     The document is long, and proofreading is detailed work

Audio: So, one thing I always like to stress is that everybody has to proofread. Even professional writers and editors, maybe especially. I know whenever I'm feeling like, if I get overconfident, if I don't spend that time proofreading, I will find dumb things that I left in text, and it definitely happens. It's something everybody has to do. Not always fun, although it can be. Now one thing that I often advise people to do, I said this in the previous section, is to wait before you're happy with the content before starting with the really granular level polishing. If you're having to rework entire paragraphs, take things out, put things in, it can be really frustrating if you spent a lot of time honing your APA style. So ideally, get your content resolved and at least the basic structure down before doing that more fine-tooth comb work.

And then of course, just make sure you budgeted the time for it. It's almost always more time than you think it's going to be. This is a long document, proofreading, details etc. As someone who edits for a living, I do have to put in a plea that the electronic tools -- and there's a lot out there that can be very helpful and I recommend them, things like your spelling and grammar check in word, Grammarly, various tools like that can all be very helpful in guiding your revision but unfortunately, were not at a point where the software has a level of sophistication that substitutes for you and maybe other readers going line by line through your document.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Local or “Small Picture” Concerns 

•      Are the citations correct?

•      Are the grammar and sentence structure correct? Is the punctuation free of errors?

•      Is the wording precise? Is the style formal enough?

•      Does the text follow all formatting requirements?

Audio: So, some of the local or small picture proving concerns are these: are the citations formatted correctly? Is the grammar and sentence structure correct? Are there only complete sentences? Is the punctuation free of errors? Is the wording precise? Are the best and correct words chosen? And is the style formal enough? Does it sound academic without sounding so pretentious or overblown? That it's all clear? Have you followed all the formatting requirements for the formal margins and headings and all those kind of things in your document. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Ways to Develop Proofreading Skills

•      Be self-aware of common errors you make

–     Try using a grammar journal

–     Make your own style guide “cheat sheet”

•      See your work as a reader and not as the writer

–     Read the document aloud or have it read to you

–     Zoom in on the text; show formatting marks

•      Know where to look up answers instead of trying to memorize everything

Audio:Those are just some of the things that you would think about.

Just as with revision, being self-aware about the kinds of errors you tend to make can really help you figure out where to focus your proofreading process. That grammar journal that I mentioned can be really helpful in keeping track of specific things, if grammar is your struggle. You might make your own kind of style guide cheat sheet and that can be kind of a list on things you've gotten feedback that you're having errors in, these errors, something you can be looking at when you're doing your proofreading pass throughout your document. That can be very helpful. 

And again, doing those things, to see your work as a reader rather than a writer, or to familiarize you work in some way can be very helpful. Reading aloud, zooming in on the text, there's, you can change settings -- and I can't show this here -- but so that you can see the spaces and the formatting marks, that can sometimes be helpful. All of those things can be helpful in really polishing and refining the draft.

Another key part of this is knowing where you can look up answers to things like how to format certain types of APA references or citations, instead of feeling that burden of memorizing everything. You really don't. There are still, after 16 years of working in APA style, there are still things I have to look up. I feel I can justify that by saying, I am outsourcing the storage of some of this information to my e-book of the APA manual or the Writing Center website. Because I just, I need that storage space in my brain for something else. So, if there is a certain kind of obscure government document that I only see once every few months, I'm going to go look at that up to know how to format that reference. It's probably common sense, but I would encourage you to do the same.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Proofread in Multiple Passes

Consider how you can break down proofreading into smaller tasks, such as the following:

  1. Read line by line for sentence structure, coherence, clarity, grammar
  2. Run spellcheck/grammar check in Word
  3.  Search for citations throughout document to check APA format; cross-check citations vs. reference list
  4. Scroll through document to check layout formatting against Walden template

Audio:This is repeating some of what I've said, but as with revision, I think it's very productive to plan to proofread in multiple passes. Think about how you can break that down. This list here is an example. You're going to break that down according to what you can reasonably do in a single pass and what’s important to you and what your specific challenges are. 

But this is an example of what I do, when I’m proofreading something for someone else. During one pass I'm reading line by line, thinking about things like sentence structure, grammar, coherence, clarity. And that all tends to happen naturally, my brain wants to do those things simultaneously. But I might not see all of every misspelled word when I’m interacting with the text that way. I might not see all the punctuation errors. So, running a spellcheck or grammar check after that I find useful to catch some of those things. And perhaps after I have read line by line and that sometimes catches some of the loose ends that I have missed. Then after that, what I done before, when I used to edit more professionally or freelance before I was at Walden, I’ve would really be responsible for helping someone to get the document as perfect as it could possibly be, I would take a separate pass where I went through and looked for each citation to make sure that everything was consistent.

One way to do that, just as a hint, is to search for the opening parenthesis and that will allow you to find most, in text, if you have the year there and parenthetical citations in your document.

Another thing that everyone should be -- and I know it doesn't always happen, but it should -- is that in APA style, anything that's in your reference list, you should be citing in the text. That's the APA approach. It’s not a bibliography where you include things that you don't cite. You should be citing everything. So, everything in your reference list should have a citation and every citation, importantly, should have a reference, unless it’s a personal communication or some kind of thing that is not retrievable, where you wouldn't have a reference list entry, just the [indiscernible]. Otherwise, there should be a reference entry. So those kinds of things. Citation checking can be a separate pass.

And then usually the final thing that I do with any document and this is true when I do a form and style review fixing things for people, and giving people feedback on how to fix it themselves the last thing I usually do once I’ve made all those changes which move things around, we are going to change the pagination and headings and that stuff, once all that’s done, then I scrolled through it to check the layout formatting to make sure it meets all the guidelines in the template layout. Are the margins, right? I usually check that first. That I just scroll down and make sure, are the page break falls in the right places? And then at the end, I will do the table of contents. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Proofreading Resources

•      Proofreading Tips and Grammar Journal (in the Files pod)

•      Grammarlyand MS Word’s Grammar and Style check

•      APA (6thed.) manual

•      APA Style Blog

•      Merriam-Webster dictionary

•      General resources from the Writing Center

•      Proofreading webpage

•      Proofreading bookmark checklist

•      Revising for Grammar page

Audio:That's one way you might go about that.

Now we have a lot of proof-reading resources in the Writing Center, these are highlighted here on this slide. There’s that proofreading tips and grammar in the Files pod that I referred to. There's a link here to Grammarly which you can use. That's, again, a totally automated tool. It doesn't totally substitute for what a person could tell you about their work, but it is good for identifying, if you have certain pervasive patterns of grammatical error or writing error, it can be very helpful in pointing out to you so you know what you're looking for when you're self-editing. So, that's link here. 

Of course, the APA manual, that's very important. For those weird APA problems that you don't know how to fix, the APA style blog is a great resource and that’s linked here. It’s searchable. So when I have a source for something I don't know how to do in APA style because the manual doesn't address it directly, and a lot of the time it will be addressed in their blog, so that's a great place to go.

The Merriam-Webster's dictionary is the source for words that can be spelled more than one way. If in doubt, APA says go to Merriam-Webster, there's a link to that here. Then there's a link for some of our many resources on proofreading and revising for grammar that we have at the Writing Center.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Chat Question: 

What proofreading or revising tricks

 or tools do you suggest? What do you want to

 try after this session?

Audio:Okay. We will post to have a chat as we're kind of wrapping up. And, while these are coming in, Sam, are there are any questions that I can answer? I know there's a lot of content in this session and I had hoped to stop earlier.

Sam: Actually Carey, I've been pretty busy in the Q&A box here. A lot of people have been asking really good questions. One that came up, a couple questions have come up about track changes and one came up about something related to that. A student wanted to know if there's some sort of -- I don't know the exact word that they used, the original question is not there -- but sort of a separate document that records comments from a reviewer along with the changes made and for each comment from each reviewer and then once completed ... I'm not aware of anything outside of track changes, in terms of tracking revisions, other than, I suggested, you know, saving archived versions with, maybe with the date, so you know which one is which, and using track changes. But are you aware of anything else they can do there?

Cary: That's a really good question and I know there are a number of different ways that you can view your changes in Microsoft Word that could be helpful in pulling that out, like there are different themes [sounds like] that show. The revisions in different ways. But to be honest with you, I think I have blinders on, maybe, because I deal with this in the Form and Style review in the work we do, we deal with such a specific part of the process for students’ revisions that I don't, I'm often not trying to reconcile all those different things.

Sam: I see actually that there is a comment from Beth in the presenter chat that she says students might be referred to a form that illustrates changes they made for the faculty. This may be something that faculty are directing them to. If this is the case, there are many things faculty are doing that we're simply not aware of, we can't be aware of them all, so they might want to talk to their faculty about what tools faculty are hoping they will use.

Carey: If any of you have any tools like that and it's something you are allowed to share, I would love to see it. You can send it to us at I know we’d be curious to see it. 

I haven't actually read out the chat question, if you wanted to share any proofreading or revising tricks or tools that you suggest, or if you want to note anything, you're interested in trying after this session, you could put those right in the chatbox. 

And I see the Change Matrix was used in the DBA program. That's interesting. We have, some people in the Writing Center who are kind of cross listed in the DBA program, so I will ask them about that. Because I think that's very interesting, and that might be, something like that might be helpful at helping students in earlier stages of the process, for me. I see [indiscernible] saying they are doing the MEAL Plan. Go ahead, I'm sorry.

Sam: Just a related question on the track changes, another student asked earlier -- and I gave my thoughts, but I was wondering if you'd like to comment with that, as well about using track changes as they are revising. I know that their faculty and we, of course, are using track changes when we suggest edits, but do you recommend or maybe, when do you think it would be best for students to be using track changes in their own revision process?

Carey: I guess my recommendation would be to as transparent as you can in talking with the faculty you are submitting to about what their expectations are. Because I can see it would be useful to have track changes on when you're doing your own revisions to illustrate you have gone and done that work. So just on that level, it can be helpful. 

The one thing I will say, just on a practical level of dealing with that document, is what I usually recommend people do after you get, say, a marked-up document with track changes and comments is to go through, individually, make sure you're addressing each comment. Make sure you want to keep the changes, and then delete the comments from the document once you’e addressed them and cleared and accepted all the changes. It will just make your document easier to deal with going forward. When you have multiple versions of tracked changes in one document, it can be awful to try to sort out if you do want to go back and try to figure out what the history of some change was. It can be many layered and painful. So ....

Sam: I think I just try to, if in my own writing, I feel like a revision is going to be settled, that there is not going to be question about it, I go ahead and accept that change, get it out of the way, so it's not distracting from other things.

Carey: I see some great feedback in the chatbox. Reading the paper aloud has led to many great revisions for clarity and coherence. That's great. MEAL Plan again, the MEAL Plan is so helpful. I have really been a convert to that. I'm someone who sometimes resists little acronym tricks for writing. But that one is a really helpful one for academic writing. I really endorse it. Having someone read their paper to them. That sounds good. Reading out loud. Having someone else proofread. Great. 

Are there other questions? I know I have a resource slide to show that I want to get to before the hour's is up. And I don't want to leave anything

Sam: I think you can go ahead, that addresses most of them. I've got a couple loose ends to tie up in the Q&A, but you go ahead.

Carey: Okay, thank you. And thank you to all of you who have been contributing ideas in chat and asking questions. I see a couple of people are typing, I want to let you get your comments, then I will show the last few slides which are mostly links I would encourage you to use once you download these slides so that you can use any of our resources that you're not already using. 

Someone’s asking what the Change Matrix is, sounds like the Change Matrix is a DBA program structure. That's actually news to me. I'm excited to see what that actually is. Sounds like it's a way to keep track of your feedback. That's something that the DBA program apparently uses, according to you all. I'm going to be asking some of my colleagues who teach in the DBA program to share it with me. Sounds cool, but I'm afraid I cannot tell you anything about that. Maybe you can tell each other.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Additional Resources

Help is out there!

Audio:All right, I am going to just go on to the resources.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Form and Style website

Audio:So that you can see what we have to offer. There's a link here to the Form and Style website. That's the kind of offshoot of the Writing Center website that is run by the Office of Academic Editing where I work. And we have all of the templates compiled here. We have lots of writing and revision kits and checklists full of other resources and links to all sorts of great things. 

The Form and Style checklist is something I would encourage you to come get from us at the Form and Style website. That will tell you all the things that we are going to be looking at when we look at your document during the Form and Style review. So that can be helpful, actually, in guiding some of these revisions as you're moving along.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Additional Resources for Capstone Writers

•      SMRTguidesfor capstone writers

•      Self-Editing sectionof F&S website

•      Editor Office Hours(live chat)

•      Doctoral Capstone Writing Workshopsfrom the Academic Skills Center

•      Doctoral Capstone Resources website for resources across Walden centers

Audio: Just a few other resources to highlight here that I think are especially useful at our site and elsewhere, some of my colleagues have developed these wonderful SMRT Guides. Those are pretty clear, concise how to documents for doing some of the more onerous and common but common tasks that you have to do in a capstone like formatting a figure or creating a table. There's a whole bunch of different SMRT guides, those are linked here.

We have a new self-editing section full of resources, ideas, tips and content on the Form and Style website and that's linked here. We have a live chat service that I’d encourage you to use, because we don't get that many visitors, yet, to be frank. And I'm always happy to talk to people. It's meant as a quick Q&A, but if you've got some APA questions, some simple, basic writing questions, format questions, that kind of thing, please come visit us. Those are linked here. That's a live chat service during certain hours. 

There are always also doctoral capstone workshops run by the Academic Skills Center and there's a link here from the doctoral capstone resources hub which compiles resources across centers.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions after this webinar:


Looking for more help with your capstone? 

Check out the doctoral capstone webinar seriesfor more on writing the different elements of the proposal and final document. 

You may also like Preparing for the Form & Style: Common Errors and Editor Q&A” 

Audio:If you have questions after the webinar, please feel free to write us anytime at editor@mail.waldenu.eduor visit us during our chat hours as I mentioned in the last slide. And I don't want to go over, so that is, that is what I have. Beth, did you have any concluding comments?

Beth: Thank you so much, Carey. Excuse me. I guess I would just say, excuse me, again, thank you everyone for coming, I will be posting the recording in the webinar archive within 24 hours, so you're welcome to access the slides there, as well as the recording. So, feel free to do that, as well. I know we had a couple questions at the end, so if you do have any lingering questions, as Carey said, please do email us at Other than that, we hope to see you at another webinar. Thank you so much to you Carey and to Sam, thanks for answering the questions in the Q&A box. I will go ahead and end for the day. Thank you so much, everyone.