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Revision (writing)

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Revision is a process in writing of rearranging, adding, or removing paragraphs, sentences, or words. Writers may revise their writing after a draft is complete or during the composing process. Revision involves many of the strategies known generally as editing but also can entail larger conceptual shifts of purpose and audience as well as content. Within the writing process, revision comes once one has written a draft to work with, so that one can re-see and improve it, iteratively. Working at both deeper and more surface levels a writer can increase the power of the text.[1]

In an essay, revision may involve the identification of a thesis, a reconsideration of structure or organization, working at uncovering weaknesses, elaborating evidence and illustrations, or clarifying unclear positions. A factor that distinguishes students from making surface level revisions to macro level revisions, is the amount of time given by teachers. Revision takes time. Many writers go through multiple rounds of revisions before they reach a final draft.[2]

Revision is a larger category of writing behaviors than line-editing or proofreading, though writers often make large reorganizations and word-level edits simultaneously. There are theories such as the three-component model[further explanation needed] hypothesized by Linda Flower and John R. Hayes[3] and James Britton et al.'s model of the writing process as a series of stages described in metaphors of linear growth, conception - incubation - production.[4] Here, a review by the writer or a third party, which often give corrective annotations, is part of the process that leads to the revision stage.

Revision as a threshold concept[edit]

Revision is a threshold concept.[5] Threshold concepts are ideas that are essential to grasping further topics of study.[6] It is sometimes viewed as challenging for students due to preconceived views.[5] The hierarchy system established in classroom settings between teacher and student might encourage students to see revision as a form of punishment, forcing students to fix their mistakes.[5] It also works to make students more receptive to teacher feedback, giving teachers the title of "co-authors" of students writing.[7]

Reflection in the revision process[edit]

Another way to think about the writing process and revision is Peter Elbow's concept of first- and second-order thinking.[8] First-order thinking involves intuition and creativity; it consists of exploring tangents and generating ideas.[8] The prewriting and drafting process entails first-order thinking. Second-order thinking involves being critical and analytical of one's own writing; it consists of reflecting on the ideas developed through drafting and ensuring that they are clearly expressed and well-supported.[8]

Reflective writing encourages writers to think about their own thinking[9] which is also known as metacognition.[10] Reflection can also be considered a type of second-order thinking. This analytical approach of thinking asks the writer to examine their work with a critical mindset. Writers are able to consider the intended audience and purpose of a piece of writing by asking themselves who, what, and why questions such as: Who is my audience? What is the theme? Why is this important?[9] Reflection can help writers gain more insight into the composing and revision processes by providing a method for them to develop a sense of purpose, analyze their ideas, and set revision goals.[9] In writing, revision is a powerful tool that relies heavily on one's knowledge and intentions.[10]

Revision as a collaborative process[edit]

In educational settings, peer revision, or feedback, is a common collaborative writing practice. In organizational and other workplace settings where collaborative writing is common, participation of multiple writers facilitates communal revision.[11] Recently, due to the collaborative capabilities of the Internet, there are writers who "crowdsource" reviews from several people, who contribute digital annotations.[12]

Teachers' prompts that incorporate the process of invention spark collaboration and communication amongst students in the classroom, producing feedback between peers. Peer review allows writers to learn from one another and assess issues that may have been overlooked.[13] It gives writers an outside perspective, increasing their understanding of how their writing is being interpreted by their intended audience. It allows students to learn and strategize with one another.[14] Peer feedback engages the concept of discourse communities, where individuals share genres, language, values, concepts, and "ways of being" too better the group as a whole.[15] Discourse communities give writers a space to collaborate with those who have a suitable degree of relevant content or who share a common set of goals.[16]

For further reading see the reference guide:

A. Horning & A. Becker (Eds.) (2006). Revision: History, Theory, and Practice. Parlor Press and WAC Clearinghouse.


  1. ^ Elbow, Peter (1981). Writing with power : techniques for mastering the writing process. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512018-9. OCLC 993491749.
  2. ^ Allal, Linda; Chanquoy, L.; Largy, Pierre (2004). Revision Cognitive and Instructional Processes: Cognitive and Instructional Processes. New York: Springer Science and Business Media LLC. p. 190. ISBN 9789401037761.
  3. ^ Flower, Linda; Hayes, John R. (1981). "A cognitive process theory of writing". College Composition and Communication. 32 (4): 365–387. doi:10.2307/356600. JSTOR 356600.
  4. ^ Britton, James, Tony Burgess, Nancy Martin, Alex McLeod, and Harold Rosen. (1975). The Development of Writing Abilities (11-18) London: Macmillan Education.
  5. ^ a b c Downs, Doug. Adler-Kassner, Linda; Wardle, Elizabeth (eds.). Naming What We Know, Classroom Edition : Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-1-60732-578-9. OCLC 1253563203.
  6. ^ Wardle, Elizabeth; Downs, Doug (2020). Writing about writing (4th ed.). Bedford/St.Martins. ISBN 978-1-319-33234-1. OCLC 1321787544.
  7. ^ Magnifico, Alecia Marie; Woodard, Rebecca; McCarthey, Sarah (2019-06-01). "Teachers as co-authors of student writing: How teachers' initiating texts influence response and revision in an online space". Computers and Composition. 52: 107–131. doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2019.01.005. ISSN 8755-4615. S2CID 86438229.
  8. ^ a b c Elbow, Peter (1987). Embracing contraries : explorations in learning and teaching. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504661-7. OCLC 988428588.
  9. ^ a b c "Reflective Writing and the Revision Process: What Were You Thinking? – Writing Spaces". Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  10. ^ a b Lindenman, Camper, Jacoby, Enoch, Heather, Martin, Lindsay Dunne, Jessica (June 2018). "Revision and Reflection: A Study of (Dis)Connections between Writing Knowledge and Writing Practice". College Composition and Communication. 69 (4): 581–611. JSTOR 44870977 – via JSTOR.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Lisa S. Ede, Andrea A. Lunsford (1990). Singular Texts, Plural Authors. Carbondale. Southern Illinois Press.
  12. ^ Rijlaarsdam; Bergh, Huub; Couzijn, Michel (2007). Effective Learning and Teaching of Writing: A Handbook of Writing in Education. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 105. ISBN 978-1402027246.
  13. ^ "Benefits of Peer Review". www.southwestern.edu. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  14. ^ Gerdes, Kendall; Beal, Melissa; Cain, Sean (2020-09-30). "Writing a Videogame: Rhetoric, Revision, and Reflection". Prompt: A Journal of Academic Writing Assignments. 4 (2): 3–12. doi:10.31719/pjaw.v4i2.64. ISSN 2476-0943. S2CID 224977261.
  15. ^ Johns, Ann (1997). "Discourse Communities and Communities of Practice: Membership, Conflict, and Diversity" (PDF). Text, Role, and Context: Developing Academic Literacies: 51–70. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139524650.006. ISBN 9780521567619.
  16. ^ "Discourse communities and communities of practice: Membership, conflict, and diversity", Text, Role and Context, Cambridge University Press, pp. 51–70, 1997-06-13, doi:10.1017/cbo9781139524650.006, ISBN 9780521567619, retrieved 2023-03-19