How do I deal with this?


When I submit a chapter to my supervisors I do my best. So, when my sups give me feedback, I try to address their comments and most of the times I do this successfully.
But, mu sups have told me that this is not what I should be doing. Instead, they told me that I should also be making more changes. I should find where changes are needed...

And I wonder, how can I do that? How can I guess where changes are needed?

Does anybody else have to deal with such issues? What do you do?


I think I understand what they mean: when you write a chapter, it is meant to flow - each element connecting to those before and after, without too much repetitiveness. If you make changes to X, Y, and Z at the suggestion of your supervisor, then items you insert or cut have a knock-on effect on various parts of the chapter. Basically, you have to use your intuition to work out what relates to what else and in what way. You need to always be aware of the questions you have raised and whether or not you answer them in a way that makes sense to the reader.

I know that might seem like a convoluted response, but it's a difficult question to answer!


Structuring a chapter ( and a thesis!) can be a huge challenge. Its one of the biggest hurdles in managing large amounts of material. How do you put it altogether so it makes sense, connects to each other, and is readable? My recommendation on this is to get the Bryan Garner book, "Writing in Plain English"... while his book is aimed at a lawyer audience, his very easy to use editing steps make sense for any kind of writing. Certainly it fits within trying to edit a thesis and the various chapters. You can start using the steps as soon as you open the book-- its really that straightforward to use. And inexpensive used copies are usually available on Amazon for £5 or so.


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I think what they are suggesting is that writing is an ongoing process and ultimately the redrafting element is more our responsibility than theirs. I'm in the humanities and I see my sup as my copy editor - there to check typos and general flow. He rarely advises me on specifics in terms of content or argument, usually it is more advice on how what I've written could be pulled apart at the viva.

Are you sending them 1st drafts of work done? Are they picking up easy errors or silly mistakes? Perhaps they are trying to point out that redrafting is a crucial part of the process. I always think that a piece is never finished (which is my major flaw tbh) and could rewrite and rewrite to my heart's content. No better feeling for me than printing out a piece of work and getting the red pen out ready to pull the work apart.

If you're struggling with this then my advice would be to write a substantial (but not too big) section. Give yourself some time any from it and do something else. Then later that day or the next day, print it out and get the red pen out. Do you see any gaps? Are any weak parts? Is EVERY paragraph contributing to your argument? Does EVERY paragraph have a strong opening sentence that sets up the paragraph? Does EVERY paragraph have a strong finishing sentence that sums up your point? Do these paragraphs flow? If not - rewrite. Then rewrite some more. Personally I never give my sup anything to read before I've rewritten it at least 3 times. People give me nice comments on my writing but I'm no genius - I'm just hyper-critical of my own work.

Hope this helps.


I can understand what you are all trying to say.....

I guess it's part of the writing up process....maybe the hardest part of it.....