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Editing a paragraph:supplementing

How to supplement a draft

 

To supplement means to insert the information that the reader requires. Consciously or unconsciously, the reader asks questions of every sentence and claim. If the answers are not supplied in the following sentence, then the reader becomes unsatisfied.

 

Learn to read every paragraph from a reader’s point of view. Ask the questions of every sentence that the reader asks. If there is an answer to that question in the subsequent sentence, fine. But if there is no answer then the writer needs to supplement the text with more precise information. Look at the following draft introduction to an article about  how indigenous people choose traditional medicines rather than western medicines.

 

For thousands of years, Shangrila has been a place where a wide variety of plant species have flourished, due to a diverse ecology that supports plants utilised for a variety of purposes. Evidence of ancient use is provided by archaeological work on indigenous cultures here. Long before the advent of western medicine and computer technology, extensive use of medicinal plants was a Shangrila  tradition, which  we have seen continuing today. Although western medicine, in the form of hospitals, clinics, centres, and pharmacies, exist all over  the country, traditional medicine is still used by many. (94 words)

 

 

Note all the unanswered questions:

 

For thousands of years, Shangrila has been a place where a wide variety of plant species [which ones?] have flourished, due to a diverse ecology that supports plants utilised for a variety of purposes [for instance? Is the ecology diverse because the plants have many purposes for other plants, or animals, or people or what?]. Evidence of ancient [what is ‘ancient’?] use [use of what?] is provided by archaeological work on indigenous cultures here. Long before [how long is ‘long before’] the advent of western medicine [when exactly was the ‘advent’] and computer technology, extensive use [what is meant by extensive? Used by whom? Shamans only? women healers? All the population?] of medicinal plants was a Shangrila  tradition, which  we [who is we?] have seen continuing today[but to what extent?] . Although western medicine, in the form of hospitals, clinics, centres, and pharmacies, exist all over the country, traditional medicine is still used by many.

 

Note: Try to avoid overuse of the expression “the use of”.

 

The problem with this paragraph is that it does not really provide sufficient information and so the reader cannot really grasp the point of the article. Students often write in vague generalities in summaries, but then say nothing. Try answering the questions raised by inserting the answers into the text. Although the paragraph will expand, the student will then have some concrete facts to see and can then decide what the angle and approach will be.

 

Shangrila has a diverse ecosystem and a particularly diverse botanical harvest of over 185 edible plants. For millennia, the indigenous populations (Hamani and Muhwadi  peoples) have harvested plants for medicinal purposes. The bitter plants from the Asteraceae family have been used for gastrointestinal disorders (Lea and Perrin, 2003), but others such as Verbena litoralis, Salvia lavanduloides, Prunus persica, Quercus ssp are also well represented in the indigenous pharmacopoeia (Condolese et al, 2005). Today, modern western medical facilities are available, but the indigenous still prefer traditional medicines to treat all illnesses except cancer. Why this preference remains, and which plants are chosen for specific illnesses remains, however, unclear. (95 words)

 

The revised version omits all the redundant expression, includes concrete information and hones in on the actual gap to indicate what the article will then examine.