good academic writing – it’s about revision not editing

Things it is very good to read about at the start of the writing-revising process. There’s a difference between revising and editing and multiple revisions are necessary in nearly all instances of long form writing. Those who can produce a successful text in one go with very little editing are a rarity!


Creative writers are accustomed to the idea that their writing must go through several drafts. However, much of the advice on offer to academic writers proceeds as if all they have to do is produce a draft which is then edited, tidied up, everything made neat and clean. I have seen many a thesis completion timetable come unstuck because doctoral researchers have not grasped the fact that by and large this is not what happens. Most of us have to do more than one draft of a piece of academic writing. In reality, very few of us write the scintillating introduction, the elegant conclusion, the persuasive argument right from the start. It takes several iterations.

A few people do of course produce brilliant prose early, and consistently. Prolific writers and those who just happen to be good with words seem to be able to gallop off a chapter or paper…

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