Checklist for Drafting and Redrafting

Reworking the first draft

It would be nice if your first draft were it. But it rarely works that way. When you step back and take stock, you are likely to find that the process of writing itself has evolved your ideas; and that your thoughts have moved beyond what you initially managed to capture on paper.

As you work through your first draft ask yourself:

☑ Is this making sense? Does the logic flow? Do I need to alter the structure?

☑ Am I using a ‘voice’ I am comfortable with?

☑ Do I need to incorporate more material/ideas – or are sections really repetitive?

☑ Am I happy with my overall argument, and is it coming through?

☑ Does each chapter or section have a clear and obvious point or argument?

☑ Have I sought and responded to feedback?

Reworking the second draft

Once you are happy with the overall ideas, arguments, logic and structure, it is time to fine

tune your arguments and strive for coherence and consistency. In doing this, ask yourself:

☑ How can I make my points and arguments clearer? Do I ‘waffle on’ at any point?

☑ Am I using lots of jargon and acronyms? Should I incorporate some/ more examples?

☑ Do I want to include some/more diagrams, photos, maps, etc.?

☑ Is the structure coherent? Are there clear and logical links between chapters/sections?

☑ Is there consistency within and between chapters/sections? Do I appear to contradict myself at any point? Is my voice used consistently throughout the work?

☑ Is the length on target?

☑ Have I sought and responded to feedback?

Moving towards the penultimate draft

Being ready to move towards a penultimate draft implies that you are reasonably happy with the construction and logic of the arguments running throughout and within your document.

Attention can now be turned to fluency, clarity, and overall readability. Ask yourself:

☑ Are there ways I can further increase clarity? Are my terms used consistently?

☑ Have I got rid of unnecessary jargon?

☑ Are there ways I can make this read more fluently? Can I break up my longer sentences? Can I rework my one-sentence paragraphs?

☑ Are there ways I can make this more engaging? Can I limit the use of passive voice? Do I come across as apologetic? Are my arguments strong and convincing?

☑ Am I sure I have protected the confidentiality of my respondents/participants?

☑ Have I guarded against any potential accusations of plagiarism? Have I checked and double checked my sources, both in the text and in the references or bibliography?

☑ Have I written and edited any preliminary and end pages, namely title page, table of contents, list of figures, acknowledgements, abstract, preface, appendices, and references?

☑ Have I thoroughly checked my spelling and grammar?

☑ Have I done a word count?

☑ Have I sought and responded to feedback?

Producing the final draft

You would think that if you did all the above, your final document would be done. Not quite; you now need to do a final edit. If it is a large work and you can fund it, you might want to consider using a copy editor. Some things you may want to ask prior to submission are:

☑ Have I looked for typos of all sorts?

☑ Have I triple-checked spelling (especially those things spell checkers cannot pick up like typing ‘form’ instead of ‘from’).

☑ Have I checked my line spacing, fonts, margins, etc.?

☑ Have I numbered all pages, including preliminary and end pages sequentially?

☑ Have I made sure they are all in the proper order?

☑ Have I checked through the final document to make sure there were no glitches?