What is Academic Editing?

By Uttara Saran, PhD, Cancer Biology, University of Western Australia

Academic editing is a specialized comprehensive service that apart from improving the language and formatting of your document, also helps strengthen, streamline and highlight your ideas and arguments, while removing repetitive data.

An academic paper editor is both an expert in their chosen field of research and a highly skilled professional editor. Their understanding of the idiosyncrasies of academia, eye for detail, and strong language skills will ensure that your document not only undergoes an in-depth improvement and is ready for publication, but also serves as the first test of how your document would be appreciated by a wider audience. 

Academic writing comprises of a wide variety of documents, including, journal articles, grant applications, PhD/master theses, book chapters, presentations, and reviewer comments. In the current “publish or perish” scenario, strong academic writing is critical in ensuring the successful publication and/or presentation of your research. Frequent publications not only highlight one’s research talent among peers and the institution at large, but would also facilitate the continuation of research funding and career progression. However, while most academics excel in their research work, they often lack or have limited writing skills, which results in verbose, grammatically flawed, repetitive, and unclear documents.

Even academics who write well can face issues as it is difficult to spot errors in one’s own writing. Moreover, many authors are often blinded to minor issues such as typographical or grammatical errors, and even major issues such as poorly constructed sentences, or improper formatting/referencing/citing, which could result in their manuscript being rejected.

Specifically, how will academic editing help you?

  • The academic editor helps organise your ideas in a logical manner – a well-structured article that presents your ideas in a concise and clear ensures your article will be well read and appreciated
  • Academic editors serve as a second set of eyes – who view your article as your potential audience would. Hence, they will be able to easily identify any flaws in your document and bring them to your attention
  • Their subject-matter expertise will ensure correct terminology, tone, and that your idea is clearly conveyed
  •  Your article is thoroughly edited – awkward/odd sentences are rephrased, grammar, punctuation, and typographical errors are corrected, and repetitive information is removed, ensuring your manuscript adheres to journal guidelines for formatting and referencing
  • They help you improve your own writing skills by providing examples of good academic writing, detailed corrections, and tips for avoiding commonly made mistakes

In today’s world, successful academic writing (thesis, grants, publications, reviewer feedback) plays a decisive role in creating a strong positive impression when facing journal editorial boards, peer reviewers, administrators, universities, potential scholarship boards, and even potential employers! Hence, ensuring that your written work is of the highest standard is vital. Seeking help from an academic editor ensures your ideas are communicated clearly and effectively, thereby making an excellent first impression!


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