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Doctoral dissertation guide: proofreading prompts

A doctoral dissertation is a major undertaking. It will take months of careful research, note taking, planning and finally writing. But all of this hard work is not the complete package. You must learn the skills required to be an excellent proof reader. And if you're not sure about what you should do with proofreading, here are some prompts or tips to improve your expertise.

  • What about your thesis statement?
  • Is your introduction riveting?
  • Is your conclusion logical?
  • Have you defined the terms used in your dissertation?
  • What about the nuts and bolts of spelling and punctuation?

Obviously your thesis statement is the key to the success of your dissertation. This is the argument you are going to present throughout your paper. But even if your thesis statement is rock solid and clear, the obvious question relates to how well you have proved your case. Where is the evidence you have provided to support your thesis statement?

You'll often hear people say that your introduction has to grab the reader. A powerful opening sentence is just that, powerful. If your introduction is not a great read, if it does not encourage the reader to want to keep reading, to find out more in your dissertation, then you need to rewrite. And this is advice which applies throughout your dissertation. Be prepared to cut and remove redundant or unclear information. Be prepared to rewrite if necessary.

Your conclusion needs to be perfect. It needs to be a summary of all you have said before. It doesn't introduce new material but it is the perfect synopsis. If it is not the perfect synopsis, rewrite it.

Be very careful that any terms or definitions you have provided throughout your dissertation are clearly explained. You will be relying on certain points to support your thesis statement. Relying on any points is fine provided they are written in a clear and unambiguous fashion.

Obviously you need to be certain that you have followed the required formula. How will you cite the various references? Are they absolutely correct? Are they in the right order and in the right place? And finally of course we come to the nuts and bolts of your dissertation with such things as spelling and punctuation. Do not rely on software to be the only source of correction of your work. Use it by all means but don't hesitate to ask a reliable friend or colleague to read through your dissertation and give their honest opinion. If necessary pay a professional proof reader to give it the once over.