Last week, I worked with a PhD candidate whose proposal was rejected by her reviewers just because of faulty language and grammar. In fact, lack of attention towards revising one’s document is a common problem. But I know from experience that just writing the manuscript can be so tiring that it does not leave you with any more energy to edit.
If you are not editing your manuscript before sending it over to the publisher, then you are committing a grave error. Even if you think you have written carefully, doing a thorough edit is a must. Over the years, I have seen many papers which have been written by experienced academics and still contain a number of glitches that need to be removed through editing. You can decide to do the editing yourself, or hire a professional editor; the second option will always be more useful and save time.
At the University of Southern California, we follow three basic types of editing to make sure that all facets of research papers get covered. Drawing a clear line between these types of editing will make them most effective.
This is the elementary stage of editing, and probably the most comprehensive. Copy editing covers aspects like grammar, spellings, structure, typographic errors, punctuations and articles. Some presentation factors like spacing and labeling will also be addressed. There are hard and fast grammatical rules and we prefer sticking to them. Anyways, when drafting an academic document, you cannot afford to experiment with language.
In this mode of editing attention must be focused on checking the accuracy of data and statements mentioned in the paper. Look for discrepancies in facts, as well as validity issues in analysis. Technical jargon is also thoroughly scanned at this stage. I would suggest this book for in depth learning of technical editing – Technical Editing: The Practical Guide for Editors and Writers (Hewlett-Packard Press)
This form of editing is meant for deciding whether there can be any addition to the paper. See whether it is complete in all aspects. This is best done by someone who is familiar with your field of study, as the editor must suggest ways to improve the manuscript by exploring more references or taking the investigation further. Here’s an article on development editing that will help: www.editorsforum.org/what_do_sub_pages/definitions_develop_ed.php
If you or your editors cover all these editing styles, then the paper is sure to be close to perfect and you will definitely multiply your chances of getting accepted by the publishers.
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