Academic editing takes a different approach than standard editing. As a result, instead of correcting typographical errors, grammar or facts on a hard copy or electronic manuscript, an academic editor must highlight areas where errors or problems exist, and insert comments about the nature of an issue and ways to address it. This ensures students learn how to:
- correct their own grammatical and other errors,
- write more effectively, and
- restructure their own material.
This approach takes more time and is thus potentially more costly to a client than regular editing.
Jenny provides this service to any academic who wants to enhance their communications so that their research proposals are accepted and that more people can understand and apply their research results. In 2014-16, Jenny served as one of the editors approved by the Writing Centre to assist students, staff and faculty with technical and academic editing projects at Royal Roads University (RRU) in Colwood, near Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. RRU no longer maintains a list of approved editors.
Advice for Improving the Editing Experience
- Line up an academic editor early, preferably a few weeks or a month ahead of your deadline, to arrange for your project to be scheduled. That way, you know that the editor can focus on your project when you need it.
- Submit a chapter of your paper (e.g. literature review or methodology) to the editor several weeks prior to submitting the whole final document. Solicit a list of error trends. Learn from the feedback you receive on this initial chapter to inform the writing of subsequent chapters that you write.
- When you submit the whole document, ask for an initial high-level review of the paper with suggestions on how to improve the overall structure and format of the document. If possible, get this feedback first, along with a list of error trends and any obvious factual errors. Revise your draft with this feedback in mind, prior to submitting your final draft for detailed technical/academic editing.
- Be clear about your editing requirements and your available budget up front before the editing work begins. Put this in writing. Remember that all work the editor does on your project, including meetings and correspondence to become familiar with the project, is billable time.
- Have your academic supervisor and a committee member review your work and provide feedback. Share this feedback with the academic editor that you engage in reviewing your paper.
- Become familiar with your academic institution’s style guide before you begin writing your paper and preferably before you begin your research. That way you can record your references and citations, and prepare your figures, title page, etc. according to the correct style. This will save you time. It is quicker to record the information the right way once at the beginning rather than to have to go back and correct something multiple times later in your “final” draft. For example, Royal Roads University in Colwood on Vancouver Island, British Columbia uses APA/Chicago style.
- Proofread your own work before submitting it to anyone else, including an editor.
- Ask an English-speaking friend or colleague to proofread your paper prior to submitting it to an editor.
Ways to Improve Your Academic Writing
- Ensure that there is a clear line of sight from your research purpose or aim and your research questions to the results you present, the analysis you discuss, the conclusions you draw, and the recommendations you make. Your conclusions and recommendations must be clearly linked to your research objectives and backed up by your study’s findings (e.g. trends in your analysed data) and put into context with the literature you reviewed.
- Present key results in ways that are easy for the reader to use, such as bulleted or numbered lists, tables, graphs,diagrams that show the relationships among different factors, and photographs.
- Make clear your contribution(s) to knowledge in your field.
- Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.
- Read your writing out loud or have a friend or colleague do this. Run-on and otherwise confusing sentences will become more obvious. This is also a good way to reveal where punctuation is needed in a sentence, e.g. where commas should be placed (wherever you need to pause). You can even get a sense of what verb tense makes more sense to use.
- Prepare a short summary of your paper that forces you to distill the salient points in each section. You could do this as a PowerPoint or Visio presentation, a poster, a brochure, a point-form outline, a briefing note. You should be able to describe the main points – your key research aim, research question(s), method(s), result(s), conclusion(s) and recommendation(s) verbally in three minutes.
- Go back to your paper and make sure your key points (as noted above) are clear and prominent. If your draft exceeds the word count allowed for your paper, or for a section of your paper, edit out any material that distracts the reader from these key points and/or that does not support your key points.
- The Writing Centre at RRU offers many helpful guidance documents on academic writing and other services. Be sure to check out their website. Other academic institutions such as the University of Victoria and Camosun College also have writing centres and helpful on-line information. For example, see The UVic Hypertext Writer’s Guide, and Camosun College’s Editing Checklist and Tools.