Importance of Editing And Proofreading Your Academic Paper

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What is the importance of academic writing? And how crucial is it to edit and proofread it well?
An academic research paper represents the final stage of your research. The research itself may have spanned several years involving fieldwork, laboratory work, surveys, analysis, discussion with colleagues, and so on. Because academic research writing and the few pages of a manuscript, say about 5,000 words, represent that huge investment of money, effort, and time, editing and proofreading a research manuscript are important tasks. They make it as error-free as possible and ready for submission to the target journal. Do not neglect this stage: you are almost near the finishing line.

Why is academic writing important for a researcher’s career?
Once your paper is published, it represents a permanent contribution, available to everyone not only within days of publication but forever thereafter. Because an academic paper published in a journal is archived, indexed, retrieved, and cited, it will remain part of the given discipline’s body of knowledge—with your name permanently linked to it. And if your academic research writing is riddled with errors because of a lack of editing or proofreading, a subsequent erratum may have to be published or the research paper may even be retracted—and that link is permanent too!

Obvious errors of spelling, grammar, and punctuation in your academic research writing may also prejudice reviewers, who may wonder whether you have been as careless with your experiments as you have been with these three aspects. You want the reviewers and, later, your readers to focus on your message, so do not distract them with trivial errors.

Now that I hope I have convinced you of the importance of editing and proofreading your academic papers, let us see what that involves. You should also keep in mind that as an author, you are far too close to the contents of your academic paper to be an effective editor or proofreader. So, sometimes, it is best to entrust the job to somebody else. Another point to remember is that putting finishing touches to your paper involves multiple rounds, each round focusing on a different task.

Importance of editing academic papers
In this article, editing refers to copy editing, which focuses on language and presentation of academic research writing and not on substantive contents. When editing your paper or having it edited, the focus is on checking spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and consistency and also on ensuring that the style of the target journal—the journal to which you intend to submit the paper—is followed in every respect.

Language. Editing academic research writing involves not only taking care of minor details but also making text clear, concise, and correct. Here is an example:
Original text (47 words): Previous studies demonstrated that the temperature, precipitation, sunshine hours, and wind speed from flowering to maturity stages of winter wheat can significantly impact the wheat final yield, while increasing the input of irrigation or fertilizer during the cultivation management also has a positive influence to wheat yield.
Revised text (24 words): Temperature, precipitation, sunshine hours, and wind speed from flowering to maturity significantly affect the final yield of winter wheat as do irrigation and fertilizers.

Spelling. Most journals allow authors to use either British (UK) spelling or American (US) spelling, although some may insist on one or the other, and yet others may ask authors to use Canadian or Australian spelling. Make sure that you have chosen the appropriate style for your academic paper before spell-checking. The built-in dictionaries may not feature some technical words specific to your domain or discipline, and it is better to build a supplementary dictionary of your own. Essentially, it involves choosing the option “Add to the dictionary” so long as the word is correctly spelt. Scientific names of organisms may pose a problem, and you should ensure that the correct and the most recent names are used in your academic research writing.

Grammar. Obvious errors of grammar have the same negative impact as errors of spelling. Those for whom English is not the first language often make errors related to articles and prepositions, and such errors may put off some readers. It is therefore advisable to have your academic research writing edited by a professional editor. Poor grammar can also mislead. For example, in the following sentence, the mismatch between “that” and the verb makes the sentence ambiguous: “Adipokines constitute a family of factors produced by white adipose tissue that acts as autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine hormones.” What does “that” refer to? Tissue? Family?            Probably to factors; if so, it should be that act as . . . hormones (not “acts”).

Punctuation. The function of punctuation in academic research writing is to show how different parts of a sentence connect to one another within that sentence. A comma and the choice between “which” and “that,” for example, is critical to signaling whether a particular bit of information is essential (or defining) or merely additional: “A solvent that dissolves copper makes high temperatures unnecessary” does not mean the same thing as “A solvent, which dissolves copper, makes high temperatures unnecessary.” The first version implies that high temperatures can be dispensed with so long as you use a solvent that can dissolve copper; the second version, on the other hand, is less specific; it implies that so long as you use a solvent (any solvent), you do not need high temperatures.

Usage. An academic research paper may be perfect in terms of spelling, grammar, and punctuation and yet difficult to read because of improper word usage. Good word usage demands a good grasp of the conventions of language and its vocabulary, especially different shades of meaning associated with superficially similar words: a “glaring” example is not the same as a “shining” example: the first needs to be avoided whereas the second needs to be emulated. Each subject has its specialized vocabulary, and correct usage signals your competency: others may use “font” and “typeface” interchangeably but a typographer is expected to know the distinction.

Consistency. If there is one feature that separates good academic research writing from careless writing, it is consistency. It is poor style to use “trade-off” in one place and “tradeoff” in another or to use a colon after the table number in Table 3, a space in Table 4, and a full stop in Table 7 (as in Table 3: Decrease in temperature with latitude; Table 4 Increase in soil moisture following irrigation; and Table 7. Productivity of different crops in 2019).

Importance of proofreading academic papers
Proofreading involves focusing on isolated words and even single characters mainly to eliminate errors at the word level and enhance your academic research writing. Penguin Books had to reprint 7,000 copies of a book because one of the recipes called for “salt and freshly ground black people.” Proofreading academic papers also involves checking whether symbols are used correctly: a minus sign is not the same as a hyphen, a degree symbol is not the same as a superscript zero, and a multiplication sign is not the same as the letter x.

Copy editing and proofreading your academic research papers may seem trivial, especially when compared to presenting the findings of original research, but you neglect those tasks at your peril. After all, most high-impact-factor journals also have high rejection rates, and sloppily presented manuscripts save these journals the effort to find suitable referees—such manuscripts are rejected out of hand. Surely, your painstaking research does not deserve such a fate? So, editing and proofreading are important tasks to make your academic research writing stand out.

A service for your editing and proofreading needs
You must now see the importance of academic writing and why it needs to be properly edited and proofread. If you are a student or an early career researcher, these tasks can be especially crucial since you are eager to establish a good publication record. One of the ways you can ensure that your research paper is ready for submission to a journal is to have your paper professionally edited. Editage’s Advanced Editing service is designed especially to suit your needs. In this service, two expert editors improve your paper for language, overall readability, and ensure technical terms are used accurately so that you can submit your paper to journals confidently. This trusted service offers researchers quick, high-quality editing by subject matter experts at an affordable cost, helping them move closer to publication success.

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