What does a copy editor do?
As a second pair of eyes, the copy editor plays a crucial part in the final stages of preparing a manuscript for print or publishing. An experienced editor is invaluable as every author makes mistakes, from typos and extra spaces to awkward phrasing, structural issues, and deviations from the style guidelines. This article focuses on the skills and editing services that copy editors apply to improve your academic writing.
Some of the fundamental skills required for a professional copy editor include precision and patience, a mastery of English grammar, and a comprehensive knowledge of the finer details of academic writing, such as scholarly voice, word choice, and general use of English.
Given the technical nature of scientific research, the language and terminology is often fairly advanced. Therefore, research editing in the final stage before publishing ensures consistency and clarity throughout an author’s draft manuscript. Further, while many researchers are experts in the field, writing is a skill that not everybody can become proficient in.
What does research editing include?
Copy editors tend to focus on the following tasks when working on a research article.
- Ensuring clear sentences by adjusting and correcting errors pertaining to grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Formatting the manuscript to the submission guidelines set by the publishing body or institution. Common tasks include headings, pagination, line spacing, indentation, etc.
- Checking that all citations and references, titles of figures/tables, and any supplementary material also conform to the style guide (e.g., APA, Chicago, etc.)
- Providing constructive margin comments to explain specific changes and make suggestions regarding the structure, content, and alternative words and phrases.
What should clients consider before sending a manuscript to an editor?
As a researcher, being published in a recognized journal can give you greater credibility in your field, while it may also help you to gain funding for future projects. However, being successful means that you need to publish your research in the best possible light.
To make sure that your draft manuscript is up to scratch, rather than submitting it yourself, consider hiring a copy editor to fine-tune it to perfection. After assessing their research editing ability in a free sample, selecting the right copy editor will place you in a much better position to be successful in having a published. So, what should a researcher do before sending their manuscript to an author?
- A strong title will give your research paper greater visibility in academic databases and journals. When refining your title, consider any significant keywords that will help your research stand out. Note that the editor can make light changes to your draft to improve the presentation and readability.
- After the title page, the abstract is the editor’s next port of call. The abstract is a summary of your research, including the methods used, the results obtained, the author’s interpretation of their results, and recommendations for future research. Given that the word count is very specific, usually between 150 to 300 words, authors must include only the most important elements of the study. The editor can help you reduce the word count if necessary.
- Next, consider the overall structure of your manuscript. Read through each section again carefully to identify any awkward or out-of-place statements and interruptions to the flow. The clearer the writing, the easier it will be for the editor to understand the content.
- Arguably one of the most important aspects of research is accurately describing how the data was collected. Make sure that the methods are sufficiently described in terms of the results they generated. Statistics are often presented as tables or figures, while graphs and charts are also included.
Before sending your manuscript to the editor, read back through it a couple more times. If you identify any errors or mistakes that you may have made in the draft writing process, attempt to correct them and leave comments in areas you are unsure about.
Also consider spelling and word choice. American and British English have some very subtle differences regarding spelling and grammar, and even native speakers misspell some widely known words. In addition, try to use the same font and font size throughout, and make sure the references/bibliography are stated in the appropriate format. The most common formats in academic writing include APA, MLA, and Chicago style.
In addition to correcting spelling errors and awkward phrases, experienced editors also make effective adjustments to sentence and paragraph transitions, as well as broaden the range of structures and vocabulary used.
What additional services do editors offer?
On top of a basic proofread or copy edit, editors may apply deeper levels of research editing, such as a line or content edit, which gives editors more freedom to make significant changes to sentence structure and phrasing. Editors may also leave margin comments to provide developmental feedback, suggest alternative words and phrases, and point out structural flaws in the manuscript. Such comments give insight into the author’s writing skills and how they can improve.
Additional services include pagination, table of contents creation, and style guide compliance.
Requesting a free sample is a great way to select the ideal editor for your manuscript. Not only will you be able to assess their skill and proficiency in ensuring your manuscript is ready for submission, but you will also receive valuable feedback on how to improve your writing skills.