so you have spent hours researching your topic, ensuring your thesis flows well, put together a sound conclusion with recommendations and incorporated all the relevant references - perfect! Not so fast - have you checked spelling and grammar? How frustrating to have created a masterpiece only to lose vital marks on spelling? There is an expectation that your thesis will be error-free. There are some things you can do to make this happen.
You will need some time allocated to undertake a proofread of your thesis and this is important as you are trying to reduce errors not introduce them! Ensure that you are working on the most up-to-date version of your thesis.
How do I proofread my thesis?
Firstly, you proofread with care and attention to detail. Proofreading requires concentration and time so ensure you are not tired and have allocated plenty of time. There are a number of steps you can follow to help you carry out a successful proofread of your thesis:
• If you have a List of Contents, make sure the headings and the page numbers are consistent.
• Take one section/chapter at a time allowing yourself time to proofread it in detail, reading out loud often helps.
• Read your thesis twice, once to proofread for spelling, grammar, punctuation etc and once to ensure it makes sense!
• Don't always rely on your PC to pick up errors as it cannot tell the correct use of words such as 'it's' or 'its ' or 'accept' and 'except'.
• Carry out a proofread on all tables, figures and diagrams also.
• Aim to remove any repetition or wordiness in your thesis.
Common errors to look out for when proofreading
There are a number of common errors made when writing thesis so the things you are looking out for are:
• Spelling errors. Watch out for the misuse of words such as 'their' and 'there', 'who's' and 'whose'.
• Commas. It can be difficult to know when and when not to use commas. Commas should be used to indicate a pause, or when joining two parts of a sentence together, when providing additional information about a person or a thing that is not actually relevant to the overall sentence, and to separate items listed in a sentence.
• Apostrophes. Apostrophes followed by an 'S' are used for single nouns (child's toy, Susan's hat, etc), for indefinite pronouns (anyone's, nobody's, etc), and for plural nouns that do not end in an 'S'. Where a plural noun ends in an 'S', use an apostrophe only (the drivers' cars, the companies' accounts, etc)
• Active and passive verbs. The example below indicates the difference in the use of an active and a passive verb:
'A decision was reached by the panel.' - Passive
'The panel reached a decision.' - Active
• Tense confusion. Changing the tense of verbs within a sentence can confuse the reader and is often incorrect. Keep tenses consistent within sentences:
'After he joined the team, David appears at a meeting and makes a speech.' -Incorrect
'After he joined the team, David appeared at a meeting and made a speech.' - Correct
Once you have done all these things, you can also ask someone else to look over your work as a fresh pair of eyes can often pick up on something you have missed.
Do you need help with proofreading your thesis? Then use the professional student proofreading service from Words Worth Reading Ltd.