When we copyeditors learn to edit, we tend to tackle one rule or one set of rules at a time. We practice reducing repetition in one exercise and fixing comma errors in another. But when we get to real-world editing, we’re trying to fix all the errors in one or two passes. We’re no longer editing in a vacuum, and one edit often leads to another.
Some weeks, everything I edit is a dream. Other weeks, well …
Last week was one of those “other” weeks. One stumbling block came from papers on the sharing economy. In a sharing economy, individuals and companies provide the use of products and services for less than the cost of owing them. Think of a vacation time-share, and you’ve got the idea.
Now, now, let’s not go throwing around words like plagiarism. There could be a very innocent (or cultural) explanation of why you’ve spotted text in the manuscript that was copied from a source. I get it a lot in curriculum correlations and teacher guides because the ministry of education wording was copied from their PDF to make sure the wording was exact and the workflow was efficient.
We freelance editors like to think we can avoid many issues that staff editors must deal with. But two issues we can’t sidestep are the need to document our actions on each project and the need to manage the discussion when we are mistakenly blamed for project problems. Yes, sometimes we are at fault, but that’s a topic for another column.
Every profession has its hazards, some more serious than others. Professional drivers know that if they drive too long, they risk falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident.
Last week, a few examples of the hazards of being a professional copyeditor were on display. I don’t mean there were copyeditors charged with vandalizing public signs. Instead, there were cases of editors missing the forest for the trees and of editors judging harshly without thinking or researching.