Final Portfolio Paper Choice and "Substantive Revision"

        Choosing which paper to revise for the final portfolio will require you to answer two questions: which of the three papers (2, 3, or 4) do you still care about the most, and which of those can you improve by a substantial revision?  Only you can answer the first, but don't mistake your reaction to a lower-than-expected revision draft grade for lack of interest in the topic or in the potential you can see in the thesis.  If your curiosity still can be aroused by the topic, consider ways you might successfully revise it.

        To make a substantive rather than a superficial revision, you want to go beyond a "good enough to pass" paper.  Think about what the paper is missing that keeps it from being excellent, better than all others on the same topic.  In nearly all cases, the Hawthorne paper (2) will be missing secondary critical sources because you were not as adept at finding and using secondary scholarship at that point in the semester.  Adding some relevant scholarly opinions to your introduction might help your reader to locate your thesis in the ongoing critical dialogue about the tale(s) so we can see what "news" you have to tell us.   You also might be able to solve problems discovered in my comments by seeking critics who have dealt with the issues that raised them.  Either or both of those additions can become substantial if it significantly improves the thoroughness of your argument.  No paper should be considered "substantively revised" if it still includes no secondary critical sources as essential parts of its argument, if only to establish the context for its independent originality.

        You also might add additional primary text evidence.  If you were working with one Hawthorne tale or film, build your thesis by incorporating more specific paraphrased or quoted passages from the text or film.  If you have not yet used still images for a film paper, incorporate them and build your analysis of them.  If you have not yet consulted the script to see whether what you are describing occurs there, consult the script.  If your paper's insight and thesis already were working very well (above "20"), consider applying the thesis to another tale, or if you were working with one of the two films in paper 3, consider looking for ways to apply that thesis to the other film.  If you introduce the evidence properly, you can use it for comparison and/or contrast without having to do a major discussion of the other story or film.  That preserves your paper's focus, though if you are ambitious and really want to prove a point about how much your organizational skills have improved, you might expand your thesis to say something about that additional evidence.

        If you want to improve the independent research project (4), you can seek more sources to add depth to your picture of the "field of debate" and you can re-read the sources you have to arrive at a more coherent representation of their main points.  Then consider taking your thesis about their significance to a higher level by improving its logic, getting it to explain more of the issues involved, and/or looking further into the consequences of your revised draft's conclusions.

        Always pay attention to the mechanics of paragraph and sentence construction, proper usage, and logical punctuation.  Remember to seek the help of your colleagues in the class and the Writing Center tutors to make the paper's prose more coherent and effective.   Take the time to read the paper out loud more than once, searching for mistakes and for opportunities to clarify the sentences.  Make absolutely sure you have double-checked MLA citation style and the proper format of your Works Cited section, especially on complicated entries.  Don't leave any cited works out, and make sure all entries are complete. 

        Finally, consult the College Writing Proficiency criteria!  Use that set of criteria like a checklist and fix any deficiencies it discovers.   If, at this late date, you are unsure what any of the criteria mean, don't hesitate to ask me now.  This is the time to make certain you understand the terms your instructors will use when they talk to you about writing quality.