I attended two more Organisational and Professional Development (OPD) courses on Drafting, Editing and Proofreading Skills and Creativity for Researchers.

Drafting, Editing and Proofreading Skills

The first question we were asked by the tutor was what is our drafting, editing and proofreading process?  I realise that my approach is not a process but more a medley of doing all three in no particular order.

In the break-out groups we talked more about our methods and I realise that others may spend more time thinking before putting pen to paper.  As always there is a happy medium and I think sometimes I am too keen to start writing – borne out of some advice I received many years ago to “write rubbish” and invariably, I was told, it is not as bad as you think it might be.  This is true, but I think I probably need to think more carefully about the message, the structure and the conclusions before I start drafting.  What is the message and how can I best communicate it?

Our tutor talked us through a Model for Professional Writing Process which separates out the functions in the process.

Stage 1 Planning (Organisation and Preparation)

  • Produce a plan – mind maps or bullet point schema may help.
  • Produce a couple of sentences of what the chapter or paper is about.
  • Produce a prose abstract 10% of the final word count total. Use the structure intended for the final piece.  This abridged version can be helpful in gaining early feedback and initial comments from our supervisor.

Stage 2 First Draft (Creative and Productive)

  • Uninhibited writing – get the words on the page.
  • Do not edit – make notes on any editorial thoughts that might come to mind.
  • Voice recognition software can help.
  • Set a daily goal
  • Determine wordcount and content
  • It is about quality time rather than quantity
  • Set up the environment to help your writing – noise cancelling headphones, music etc
  • Set targets
  • Determine an end point and shut down.
  • Be disciplined.
  • Consider writing retreats.

Stage 3 Structural and Content Edit and Rewrite

  • This is a macro edit.
  • Take on role of Peer Reviewer or Journal Editor.
  • What is this about and why is it here?
  • Use the screenshot of questions provided in the workshop and adapted from The Craft of Research (Booth, G et al. 2008).

Stage 4 Detailed Edit

  • Micro edit and copy edit
  • Line edit – how well does the sentence read?
  • Flow? Key is varying sentence length to give a rhythm.
  • Copy edit = facts and details, grammar, punctuation, spelling, references, formatting, style etc
  • Proofread = final read through and check for remaining errors – can be useful to listen to the document
  • Consider editing software – check whether University has subscriptions.

The Abstracting Technique

 Work through the 6-stage process to produce the abstract (see Handout).  Make sure the title reflects the findings.

General Take Home Points

  1. Book recommendations: The Practice by Seth Godin (2020) and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (2012).

I look forward to developing my drafting, editing and proofreading skills as I work through my PhD.  I need to return to these hints and tips when I start writing and can practice with my blog posts.

Creativity for Researchers

I also attended a course – Creativity for Researchers – I was not sure what it involved but thought it would be interesting.

I identified a number of aspects of PhD work where creativity might be deployed – research design and methodology, problem solving, research methods and the structure and presentation of the thesis and other outcomes.  It was suggested that the research process is inherently creative.

I noted certain environmental conditions that might encourage creativity including a preference for being outside in the landscape, working early in the day, alone and with my camera.  If it is creative writing, I may need to work inside in which case I prefer to be alone and in a completely quiet environment.



Booth, W. C., et al. (2008). The Craft of Research. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Godin, S. (2020). The Practice – Shipping Creative Work. New York, Penguin Business.

OPD course. (2020). Drafting Editing and Proofreading Skills. University of Dundee.

Pressfield, S. (2012). The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Black Irish Entertainment LLC.


Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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