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Editing and Proofreading Argumentative Research Essays

Editing and Proofreading Argumentative Research Essays

Author: Gavin McCall

This lesson discusses strategies for editing and proofreading argumentative essays in particular.

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Editing and Proofreading Argumentative Essays

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Welcome to English Composition. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me. What are we going to learn today? We're going to be learning about editing and proofreading arguments, and then we're going to practice on a hypothetical argument.

Editing, as we'll remember, is the step in the writing process that involves improving the sentences, word choices, and overall style of an essay or other piece of writing. This is a separate process from revision, which is revisioning and rethinking the ideas, organization, and support for an essay.

It's also different from proofreading, the other step we'll look at today, which is fixing errors and typos in grammar, punctuation, spelling, mechanics, and formatting. When editing any text, one of the best strategies is reading out loud. This tends to highlight sentences that are unclear, wordy, or awkward, and word choices that are redundant, or aren't working for some other reason.

Editing an argumentative essay is largely similar to editing any other piece of writing, but there are a few things that we should keep in mind when beginning this process. First, we need to remember and constantly remind ourselves that clarity and simplicity are the goal. Writing about complicated ideas is challenging, and often results in prose that is garbled, vague, overly complex, or otherwise unclear and difficult to read. A first pass at editing an argumentative essay should include everything for clarity and ease of reading.

Second, we should edit it with an eye for improving and enhancing word choices. We should keep in mind that word choice can tracked from our essays if we use the same words too often, use unnecessary jargon, or overly formal terms, or choose words that aren't the best representation of our ideas.

And finally, we should keep in mind that even though argumentative essays do tend to be dry, stilted, or overly complex, this doesn't have to be the case for our work. If we focus on making our prose as clear and coherent as possible, we'll more than likely form arguments that a reader can easily absorb, rather than struggling to understand.

Proofreading, the final step in the writing process, is focused on fixing problems with grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and formatting. We saved this step for last because it's important to present work that's clean and as free from grammatical and mechanical errors as possible.

And the thing is, proofreading is largely the same process, no matter what kind of writing we've produced. But since argumentative research essays make use of sources, we need to devote a portion of the proofreading process to making sure that any in-text citations, parenthetical references, and reference page entries that we've included in our essays are correctly formatted, in accordance with the requirements of whatever style guide we're following.

And of course, writers of argumentative research essays are under the same obligations as writers of other genres, to only turn in, submit for publication, or otherwise present texts that fulfill the requirements and expectations of our teachers, editors, or readers, whoever they are.

Now, let's look at an essay that could use some editing and proofreading. First, I'll read it through. As I do, look for problems with style and word choice, as well as errors in punctuation, grammar, mechanics, and formatting. Then I'll go through the text myself, and hopefully we'll come up with the same fixes.

"The popularity of zombie narratives has ebbed and waned over the decades. At each time period, their resurgence pinpoints certain anxieties specific to the period. In the 1950s, zombies signified American fears that the Communist masses would destroy American individuals. In the 1960s and 1970s, zombie revivals, such as George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, highlighted concerns over losing individuality through generic consumerism and mass marketing.

The last 10 years have seen a similar crop of zombie texts, books, movies, and television shows. So what do they mean? The current crop of zombie narratives reveal our charism for becoming countless, indistinguishable bodies due to the rise of the internet and are super0connection world, an anxiety that became even more acute after the Great Recession.

In Slate magazine, Torie Bosch agrees that this zombie boom is related to economic fears. But Torie Bosch contends that this fear is felt particularly by white collar workers. The zombie apocalypse is a white color nightmare, a world with no need for the skills that we have developed. Lawyers, journalists, investment bankers, they are liabilities, not leaders in the zombie-infested world.

These workers are scared of losing their jobs to a world that has no need for brains, except as dinner. However, I believe this fear goes deeper than a concern over losing white collar jobs, although that's part of it. If that were the whole story, the same reason might appear in the zombie narratives of the 1970s, which were also economically depressed. What's new to this current period in history is the internet, and the way that social media simultaneously pushes us to declare ourselves to the world and realize just how many people are out there.

If we have become a global village, we now realize just how many souls stagger through it. This reality makes us fear that we are really not special individuals, but rather indistinguishable counterparts, driven by the same insatiable appetites."

The first thing I noticed was that the first paragraph could use some word choice edits. Here, for example. This will help me to set the tone and the style to suit the subject a little more. Notice that these don't change the meaning very much, though they should change the text impact for the reader. There's also a typo here. This should be connected, not connection.

And now, for the second paragraph. Here, I already said Torie Bosch's first and last name, so I shouldn't do it again. And now that I'm looking at it, the source, though I guess you can't see, only has one page. So instead of referencing page one, I should reference the paragraph I'm quoting from. And here, I just don't feel like scared is a strong enough word, so I'll change it.

Now for the last paragraph. This stood out to me while reading. At first, I thought it was a typo, but actually I'll add the comma and the, which I think is what I meant to write originally. And finally, that last sentence. It could be clearer. If I make just a couple changes, I should be able to make the conclusion of this tiny essay a little bit more effective.

There. So as you can, see editing and proofreading, while they can seem nitpicky, are actually very important, no matter how small the changes might be. What did we learn today? We learned about editing and proofreading argumentative research essays. And then we looked at an example of this process. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me.