Editing theses and journal papers is a very common entry-point to the profession of editing. This may be because editing is a required step in the process for these materials. Or it may be because editing one-another’s papers (and peer review) is part of the culture of these publications.
“I’ve been editing colleagues’ papers for years, and I’m ready to go pro,” is a common refrain in editing forums. But as anyone knows after making this transition, professional editing is the 90% that lays below the surface of this editing iceberg. We’ll look below the surface in the next few posts.
What You Need to Know to Edit Academic Works
- Industry style guides
- Journal / house style guides
- Language conventions
- Topic familiarity
- Illustration and graph conventions
Academics write with a particular publisher in mind. Those publishers each have their own style guide, to supplement industry standards such as APA, MLA, or AMA. These guides dictate not only language choices, but the order of elements in a paper, and what those elements contain. They also detail how material is to be submitted and where and how the catch lines (insert callouts) are to be placed in the manuscript. There’s a lot more in there than citation style, which is what they are best known for.
Get the entire style guide. Summaries we find online tend to stick to the rules for citing references. But that’s only about 5% of the entire guide. They also tell:
- how tables should be formatted,
- how figure captions and titles should be written,
- how to write effective lists (and their preferences for punctuating them),
- the overall “voice” a paper should be written in,
- great advice on writing well, and
- how to clear permission to use quoted materials (something that few academics understand).
Tune in next week, when we’ll expand on the list of what academic editors need to know.