If you lack confidence in your ability to write clearly and knowledgeably, you’re not alone!
English is difficult – especially if it’s not your native language. Small differences in sentence structure or tense make your work difficult to read, and will frustrate your reader – or worse, your marker. If the work reads naturally it will have a greater impact, hopefully earning you a higher grade. Whether English is a second language, or you have never excelled at writing, I can help.
Simple tips you can follow to help yourself
+ Think about your audience – write as if the reader is unconnected to your research;
+ Look out for jargon – industry or discipline-specific words or acronyms should be explained the first time you use them (the first time you mention the GFC, write “global financial crisis (GFC)”);
+ Your work is formal writing, so don’t use colloquialisms (a word or phrase which is used in everyday conversation) – if you are talking about New Zealanders, don’t refer to Kiwis;
+ Be careful not to overuse words such as “furthermore”, “moreover”, “in addition” – if you work flows logically, these are unnecessary;
+ Be consistent – if you refer to New Zealand, don’t change to NZ; keep your formatting and fonts the same throughout;
+ Avoid the use of first person pronouns – “we”, “I” and even “the author” – formal writing should not refer to yourself;
+ Read your work out loud – mistakes often become apparent when reading it out loud.
Let me help you
There are many common errors which are very difficult for a non-native English speaker to identify – and which will reduce the impact of your writing.
An online spelling and grammar check will pick up some of these mistakes, but it won’t help where:
+ You have correctly spelled the word, but it is the wrong word;
+ You have chosen words which are unusual or don’t fit the style of your writing;
+ You have used a plural incorrectly (“literatures”), or where there is no plural (“informations”);
+ Sentences are structured in an unnatural way, making it necessary to re-read to understand the meaning;
+ Your grammar and punctuation is not correct, for example, the incorrect placement of a comma changes the meaning of a sentence;
+ The overall sense is unclear – MSWord doesn’t read your work to make sure you are saying what you mean.
You have put in a lot of effort to get to this stage, don’t cut corners now! When you have a final draft of your thesis, it’s worth taking some extra time to carry out these final checks:
+ Has the final draft been checked for spelling and grammar, using an online tool?
+ Have you reviewed every page on screen to ensure no headings or tables are split across pages?
+ Does your thesis follow university guidelines, including all references correctly formatted?
+ Are all references referred to in the body of the thesis?
+ Are all figures and tables labelled correctly and consistently, and are they all mentioned in the text?
+ Have you read the thesis through from start to finish, ensuring it flows logically?
+ Has the thesis been independently read through? This is an essential step if you are not a native English speaker, and an important check for all students.
+ Have you included everyone who should be thanked in your acknowledgements?
I’m ready when you are!