Reviewing Your Academic Paper

Before you submit your essay or research paper these are the points you should check:


  • Does (do) the first sentence(s) catch the reader’s attention?
  • How else might the paper begin?
  • Does the introduction provide sufficient background and context for the reader?


  • Is the thesis stated clearly?
  • Can you identify the thesis statement?
  • Is the thesis focused enough?
  • Does the paper fulfill the promise made by the thesis? Why or why not?

Supporting Points

  • List the main points made in the draft, in order of presentation.
  • Are any points uninteresting to you?
  • Are any details irrelevant and should be eliminated (does the paper lack unity)?
  • Do any points need to be explained less or more completely?
  • Is any information confusing to the reader?


  • Are the points presented in the most effective order? Should the order be changed? If so, how? (order of importance, chronological sequence, spatially)
  • Can you suggest ways to make connections/transitions between paragraphs clearer and easier to follow (coherence)?


  • Do all paragraphs have a topic sentence?
  • Do any paragraphs lack unity, that is, contain irrelevant sentences? Delete the unrelated points or those that do not add to the thesis.
  • Which paragraphs are clearest and most interesting to read? Why? Which paragraphs are well developed? Which paragraphs are incomplete and need further development with more supporting points?

Word Usage

  • Underline words that are particularly effective – those that draw vivid pictures or provoke strong responses.
  • Circle confusing or unclear words.
  • Delete unnecessary words e.g. "entire planet" and most qualifiers, such as very, often, hopefully, practically, basically, really, mostly.
  • Do any words need to be defined?


  • Are all sources and other people’s ideas documented?
  • Have you referenced even those ideas that you had before you read them in an article or book?
  • Is there any hint of unintentional plagiarism?


  • What kind of attitude does the writing convey? Serious, humorous, satiric, persuasive, passionately committed, highly objective?
  • Is the tone consistent throughout the paper?
  • If the tone varies, is there a reason for this?


  • Does the paper conclude in a memorable way, or does it end abruptly or trail off into vagueness?
  • If you like the conclusion, tell why.
  • How else might the paper end?

Final Thoughts

  • What are the main strengths and weaknesses of the paper?
  • What surprised you, and why?
  • What was the single most important message that the writer communicated to the reader?