Basics of Editing: Research Papers by a Professional Editor

by admin on February 5, 2011

You’ve  done an important piece of research that you believe would add to the academic literature in your area and so you and your colleagues have decided that it would make a great academic paper. The only problem is that you’ve never written or edited a research paper before, so that’s where this blog comes in.

The writing part is easy, just have a look at this link about writing a RESEARCH PAPER from Rice University, as it tells you the basics of how to form and develop your writing into a scientific paper. It outlines in detail all the sections and information that you will need to include in your research paper. It’s a great resource and will help you greatly in turning your research into something easy to read and follow that will be accepted in your chosen journal.

Now you’ve written the paper but are not sure whether it contains all the correct information in the format required – that’s where an academic or research paper editor comes in. They will look at your work, and will change and format it to ensure that it meets the requirements of a standard paper. Academic editors have years of experience, not just in editing papers but also in writing them, as they have written numerous papers themselves. Therefore, the first thing you need to tell your editor is which journal the paper is being submitted to – this way they can check the layout and the formatting of the paper to ensure that it complies. This includes the all-important referencing style, as this section needs to be correct. If your paper does not meet the formatting style of the journal then it will be rejected immediately before it even reaches your peer reviewers.

If you have no journal in mind but just want the paper checked to ensure that it confirms to a standard paper, then the key is consistency. That means ensuring that the headings and line spacings are all the same, along with the references and figure and table captions. These common areas frequently require editing when the paper comes to us.

Another obvious tip is to use the spell and grammar checker in your word processing software or in any that are available on the internet. This may seem straightforward but the amount of research papers we see with spelling and grammar mistakes is far more than you could imagine. This is especially critical if your first language is not English.

After these two areas have been taken care of, then your academic editor will check the language and the flow of the paper. As a research paper is a scientific document then the language needs to be formal – that is no abbreviated words (isn’t, can’t) and no slang. The language needs to be suitable for the audience. In addition, all formal abbreviations must be defined – this is another area often not checked. Always assume your reader is new to the area and define all abbreviations as they may think that the abbreviation means something completely different.

Finally, the flow of the paper. The academic paper editor will ensure that the paper tells a story, and that it has the correct beginning (literature review), middle (methods and results), and end (discussions and conclusions). This is important, as the reader has to know where your research fits into existing literature, how you carried it out, and what you found. Your academic editing will indicate areas that need changing or where extra content, such as references or explanations, will enhance your argument for you.

Once all these areas have been addressed then you will feel confident enough to send the paper off to your chosen journal to go to the next level and be a published author – and that’s a great feeling!

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