4A. Revision

A project schedule  is an effective way to manage your time and help break down the Literature Review into manageable chunks. Giving yourself dedicated time to each part of the Literature Review process, will allow you to manage your time and efforts, while balancing your other academic, social, and familial obligations. Here is a visual representation of how to allocate your time for a Literature Review:
Graphic representative of the literature process. Description found below.
How much time should you spend? Introduction: 5%; Planning: 10%; Researching: 25%; Organizing: 10%; First draft: 25%; Revising: 15%; Proofreading: 10%

Regardless of the type of assignment you’re writing, revisioning and proofreading are a critical part of the writing process. As you draft your assignment, you will probably revise and re-write several times, both on your own and after you have a peer review it for you.

Before you ask a peer to review your work, you should first work on revising it on your own. During the writing process, it is known to separate the task of writing and revising.

Here are some strategies to help you review your work:

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Get some distance
Take a break. Go for a walk. Give yourself at least a few hours between finishing a draft and picking it back up again for revision.

Revise and proofread in stages.

Don’t try to review all your work at once. If you do, you’ll likely become frustrated and miss what you want to change.

Pay attention to large, overall concerns
like content and structure (global concerns). Work on smaller items like grammar and punctuation (local concerns) in the proofreading stage.

Keep re-reading your work aloud
to make sure your entire paper makes sense as you make changes. Imagine you are reading to the audience that you are writing for.

Steps to Break Down the Components of Your Literature Review



Pay attention to the information you are presenting. Make sure the information is clear, sufficient, and relevant to the purpose of the paper. Double check if the information you have provided fits your argument, and if there is any irrelevant information, remove it.

Some questions to ask yourself when you review your content:

  • Is my purpose clear?

  • Is my main claim/assertion/thesis clear?

  • Is there enough sufficient evidence to support my argument?

  • Have I considered my reader’s potential questions?

Think about what each of the paragraphs say and how it contributes to the overall argument.

  • For each paragraph, write a summary sentence in the margins or on a separate piece of paper. 
    • e.g., This paragraph describes the characteristics of two enzymes, salivary amylase and phosphorylase.
  • For each of the paragraphs, write a one-sentence statement explaining the purpose of the paragraph in relation to the overall argument.
    • e.g., This paragraph provides background information about the major proteins used in a lab.


Pay attention to the flow and shape of your paper. Your reader should be able to follow the logic or sequence of the paper's narrative.

Some questions to ask yourself when you review your structure:

  • Are my ideas presented logically?

  • Do I introduce new information by connecting it to what I’ve already said?

  • Do I connect back to my thesis or purpose to show how the pieces fit into the overall paper?

  • Is my information easy to follow? Does the writing flow?

  • Have I repeated any ideas in more than one place?

  • Are any parts too long or too short?

  • Does my organization follow the structure required for the assignment?

Make a reverse outline.

  • In the margins of each paragraph, or in a separate piece of paper, jot down a summary or purpose statement.
  • Review the overall outline. Do you notice any gaps, redundancies, or logical errors in the overall argument? Are there paragraphs that need to be rearranged?


Pay attention to your paragraph's structure. Each paragraph should be well-organized and self contained, focusing on one main idea and serving a purpose to the overall claim.

Some questions to ask yourself when you review your paragraphs:

  • Does the paragraph focus on a single idea?

  • Does the idea clearly relate to my thesis or purpose?

  • Do I begin with a topic sentence to summarize the paragraph?

  • Do I provide evidence and other details to support any arguments/claims I make?

  • Do I provide sufficient explanation and analysis to connect the paragraph’s main idea, the evidence, and my thesis?

  • Do I finish the paragraph with a summary or a transition to the next idea?

Use the known to unknown technique.

In the example below, the known information is at the beginning of each sentence, while the unknown/new information is at the end of the sentence. Green represents known information, and yellow represents unknown/new information.

  • e.g., An enzyme is a specialized protein that increases the rate of a specific chemical reaction. The enzyme increases this reaction rate by lowering the activation energy, the energy a molecule requires to begin a chemical reaction (Alberts et al., 2014). An enzyme lowers the activation energy by, first, binding to the substrate, a reactant, at its active site to form a substrate-enzyme complex. This binding provides better chemical conditions to activate the reaction and, in turn, lowers the activation energy (Artioli, 2008).




Pay attention to different lengths in your sentences. Each sentence should focus on one clear point or idea.  Try staying the sentence out loud to hear if it sounds awkward or too complicated.

Some questions to ask yourself when you review your sentences:

  • Are any sentences too long with too many ideas?

  • Do any sentences have more words than needed?

  • Can I replace vague words with more precise language?

  • Do I use the right word (not the biggest word) for what I want to say?

  • Can I state an idea more simply?

Read each sentence backwards, from conclusion to introduction. This technique will help you view each sentence separately and focus on clarity. The following three suggested actions can help revise  your sentences for readability.

  • Use active voice, rather than passive, when appropriate.

  • Look for short words, like prepositions and articles that you can eliminate without embedding on clarity.

  • Look for nouns that work better as verbs.



Pay attention to your audience and purpose. Each sentence should take into consideration who you are writing for (e.g., expert, general, specialized audience), and its respective style. For example, a lab report will be more objective and formal, whereas a reflective essay will be more descriptive and personal.

Some questions to ask yourself when you review your style:

  • Is the style appropriate for the assignment?

  • Is my language too formal or too informal?

  • Do I use appropriate terminology or too many technical terms for my audience?

  • Are my sentences and paragraphs the appropriate length for the assignment?

  • Does my tone reflect the kind of assignment I’m writing?

Re-read the expectations of the assignment . Think about the purpose, style, and audience of the Literature Review.



Pay attention to the scholarship you are including and how your voice contributes to the conversation. It is important to tell your reader where you found the scholarship and acknowledge how the knowledge contributes to the field. Please pay close attention to the expectations of your discipline and instructor.

Some questions to ask yourself when you cite your sources:

  • What citation style am I using?

  • Do I cite/credit each source of facts and ideas?

  • Are all research sources listed in a final bibliography?

  • Are my in-text citations and bibliography consistent in format (author, date, title, publisher information)?

  • Is my formatting (headings, margins, visuals, font, page numbers) consistent across the document?

Review the required citation style of the Literature Review. Review document for consistency and completion.



Pay attention to the conventions of grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your writing. Focusing on these areas will make your writing more readable and accessible.

Some questions to ask yourself when you edit your work:

  • Do you have trouble with any of the following grammar issues?
    • Articles
    • Fragments
    • Misplaced modifiers
    • Parallelism
    • Plurals and possessives
    • Pronouns
    • Run-ons
    • Subject-Verb agreement
    • Verb tense
  • Do you have trouble with any of these common spelling errors?
    • Effect/Affect
    • Its/It's
    • Their/They're/There
    • Then/Than
    • Your/You're
    • Whether/Weather
    • Whose/Who's
  • Do you have trouble with any of these punctuation issues?
    • Capitalization
    • Commas
    • Colons
    • Dashes and hyphens
    • Parentheses
    • Periods (full stops)
    • Semicolons
  • Identify and read about the issues you know you have difficulty with.

  • Read each sentence aloud separately, from the last concluding sentence to the topic sentence.

  • Focus on one error at a time

  • Don’t rely on spell check. Re-read your work to identify common spelling mistakes as noted above. 

  • Circle or highlight each punctuation mark and assess if it is necessary or if you are using it correctly.