My teacher wants “substantial revision,” but I’m not sure what that means.

To revise a paper substantially, you should be doing more than editing during the revision process. Substantial revision may entail reconsidering how your paper is organized or making the focus of your paper more specific. The kinds of substantial revisions that you will engage in will shift from one assignment to the next but generally, you can assume that substantial revision is revision that goes beyond proofreading or changing the occasional word. This does not mean that you need to make changes to your whole paper. Sometimes substantial revision can be as simple as reworking your introduction to better reflect the conclusion you came to over the course of writing. Other times substantial revision might entail introducing new evidence to better suit your target audience. You are most likely engaging in substantial revision if the changes you are making affect your paper as a whole rather than at the word or sentence level.

What can the Writing Center do to help?

Sometimes it can be hard to see where revision is required in our own writing. For this reason, sharing your writing with a Writing Center consultant can be extremely helpful. Consultants can read your work and discuss places where your writing seems unclear or underdeveloped. These discussions can give you ideas about where to begin revising. You and the consultant can then discuss strategies for revision and, if you want, even begin the revision process during the session.