Unit 9 Editing

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should:

  • checked your thesis conforms to university requirements
  • fact checked your thesis
  • spell checked your thesis
  • grammar checked your thesis using a powerful generic checker (e.g. Grammarly, Ginger)
  • checked the accuracy, brevity, clarity, objectivity and formality of your thesis
  • checked the language is appropriate for a graduation thesis
  • proofread your thesis
  • proof-listened to your thesis

Activity 1: University requirements check

Check that you can answer to the following questions.

  1. Is your graduation thesis between four and eight pages?
  2. Did you include your student number?
  3. Did you include the name of your supervisor?
  4. For MSWord and OpenOffice users, are the page settings and font correct?
  5. For LaTeX users, did you select the correct document class?

If you answered "no" to any question, you need to revise your thesis.


Activity 2: Fact check

Check the truth value of each sentence in your thesis.


A systematic low-tech way is to write [ T ] after sentences that are true, [ F ] after sentences that are false and a question mark [ ? ] after sentences that may be true.

If you have any false sentences, these need to be rewritten. If you have any sentences that may not be true. consider:

  • making the sentence tentative, using words like: may, might, and possibility; or
  • limiting the meaning using a condition, using words like: if, in the case and providing.

Some supervisors are willing to check for factual accuracy, why not see if your supervisor is willing. Factual accuracy is paramount.

Activity 3: Spell check

Use at least one spellchecker on all the text of your thesis.

The following is a list of popular spellcheckers. Students writing their theses in standard text processors, such as Microsoft word have easy access to spellcheckers. Students writing in LaTeX need to use an external spellcheckers. This is most easily done by copying the text from the pdf version.

  • Microsoft Word spellchecker. Ensure your langauge document setting is English, and that for each section of the document, the language is English. Note: copying and pasting text from a document set to Japanese can accidently result in the language settings of one section changing to Japanese.
  • Grammarly Grammarly checks spelling and grammar.
  • Ginger Ginger also checks spelling and grammar.
  • Overleaf Overleaf is an online LaTeX environment with a built-in spell checker.

Activity 4: Grammar check

Use at least one grammar checker on your thesis.

Run a grammar checker on your thesis. Do not simply accept every result, though. For each result, conside whether the gramamr checker result is a true positive (and so accept it) or a false positive (and so reject it).

There are many different grammar checkers. Here are some popular ones:

  • Microsoft Word grammar check. Ensure your langauge document setting is English, and that for each section of the document, the language is English. Note: copying and pasting text from a document set to Japanese can accidently result in the language settings of one section changing to Japanese.
  • Grammarly Grammarly checks spelling and grammar.
  • Ginger Ginger also checks spelling and grammar.

Activity 5: Common errors in UoA graduation theses

Copy and paste your thesis into this Error Detector. Act on any advice.

This tool can find many typical errors made by University of Aizu students. Your focus for the next month should be on writing the content and not worrying about minor errors. Near the end of the course, we can focus on reducing the five types of errors. Your new motto: content first, grammar last.

Activity 6: Language feature detector

Check whether your thesis adheres to expected language conventions using the Feature detector.

chilli pepper standing out

Does your thesis stand out for the wrong reason?

If it quacks like a duck, it is a duck. If it reads like a thesis, it is a thesis. You want your thesis to stand out because the content stands out, not because your language is inappropriate.

Graduation theses and short research articles in the field of computer science have many similarities in terms of language usage. As a student or an early-career researcher, the general advice is adhere to those conventions. Your aim, therefore, is to write a thesis that reads like a thesis.

Some of these conventions include:

  1. Using passive voice: Method sections in particular tend to use passive. Does yours?
  2. Avoiding pronouns: Most papers avoid or at least minimize using pronouns, such as I, you, it, they, he and she.
  3. Using modality: Rather than overclaim that your result is world-changing in all situations, most papers limit their claim using terms, such as: may, might and could.

Activity 7: Typesetting instructions

Check that you have followed the advice provided in the Typesetting instructions.

The typesetting instruction guide was originally written by Professor Julián Villegas to help students in the University of Aizu format their graduation thesis appropriately using LaTex. Many common errors are addressed. If you are writing your thesis in LaTeX, you are strongly advised to check that you have not made any of the mistakes detailed in the guide.

The guide, however, does not only provide valuable advice on some of the common errors that students make in LaTeX, but also provides advice on both language and formatting images.

Activity 8: Proofreading and proof-listening

Proofread your thesis, get someone else to proofread your thesis, and proof-listen to your thesis.

Proofread by yourself -- It is easy to fall victim to screen-memory interference. This is when you read the words you think you wrote, and not the words that are actually written. Some proofreading suggestions are given below:

  1. Read the whole thesis, and check the logical structure. Does each of your claims or conclusions have supporting evidence? Is the evidence reliable?
  2. Read each paragraph again. Check for coherence. Does each sentence connect or support the previous sentences?
  3. Three very common grammatical errors are: verb tense, subject-verb agreement and using singular rather than plural nouns. Read each sentence checking only for subject-verb agreement. Find each verb and check the tense. The most common mistake is using present tense instead of past tense to describe completed actions or states. Find the verb with a tense (finite verb). For verbs in present tenses, check the verb agrees with the subject. Search your text for (a, an, this, that, each, every, another). Check that the noun following these words should be singular. For example, if you are referring to only one duck, then "a duck" is fine, but if you are referring to more than one change the noun to "ducks" and doublecheck the subject-verb agreement.

Recruit a proofreader -- Ask someone else to read your thesis. They do not need to understand computer science (although it is better if they do), but they do need to be able to read in English! Ask peers, seniors, professors, relatives who can read English and anyone else you might help you.

  1. Peers -- You could offer to read their GT. It is often easier to notice someone else's errors than your own.
  2. Professors -- If you have established a good relationship with a professor, he or she may be pleased to provide some comments on your GT.
  3. Supervisor -- Providing you give your supervisor sufficient time, it is very likely that they will proofread your GT.
  4. Family -- If a family member reads English reasonably well, you could get some feedback from them, too.

The more feedback you receive the better. Remembr though, that not all advice you receive is useful or actionable. Always take care to thank each reader for sacrificing their time to help you!

Proof-listen -- It is difficult to proofread a document that you have altered so many times. Our brains naturally skip words and remember earlier versions. The speech synthesis engine built into Google translate is one of many speech engines that you can use.

Activity 9: Typesetting instructions

Finish your thesis, submit it to your professor, and submit an identical copy to your Thesis Writing professor.


Answer these questions.

  1. Does your thesis adhere to the university requirements
  2. Is it factually correct?
  3. Did you spellcheck it?
  4. Did you use a grammar checker?
  5. Did you use the computer science common error checker?
  6. Did you check the language features
  7. Did you proofread your thesis?
  8. Did you get someone else to proofread your thesis?
  9. Did you proof-listen to your thesis?