This continues our series about editing academic works, which include articles for academic journals, theses, and monographs.
Copyeditors and proofreaders need a good grounding in grammar, and that means more than the hobgoblin-filled education that we get in school. A seasoned editor knows which language points are rules, which are conventions, and which are choices. They also know when it’s ok to break the “rules.” “There are certain conventions of notation, terminology, and techniques that must be applied correctly,” write the authors of the academic editing chapter in Editing Canadian English, 3rd ed. (ECE3), Lenore Heitkamp and Christa Bedwin.
No one knows the topic as well as the author of an academic work. In fact, there’s a chance that only a couple other people in the world know their topic so well. An editor doesn’t have to be a subject expert. What they do need is familiarity with the language that is used to discuss the topic: the jargon, the turns of phrase, etc. “Plenty of professional editors, however, have continued their learning and become experts in subjects that were not their original specialties,” write Heitkamp and Bedwin.
At the least, what subject familiarity does is it keeps the editor from making queries that criticize standard usage in the industry. It’s important to let the experts talk their talk. Good use of industry-standard language is important to the author’s credibility. “It’s also vital to clarify with the author who the intended audience is. If it’s a small, specialized audience, then the author can get away with more jargon. If it’s a wider audience, the author may need to be prompted to simplify the language,” the ECE3 authors write.
“The editor may be expected to correct tables, photos, maps, charts, and diagrams,” say ECE3’s authors. “So an ability to read and understand any technical details and know their conventional presentation standards is important.”
Academic editors may leave the most queries compared to other editors. “A good editor always queries instead of letting a suspicion that something is unusual go unmentioned,” say ECE3’s authors. Subject-expert authors require a great deal of deference in order to read queries without getting defensive.
In coming instalments of this academic editing series, we’ll talk about who hires academic editors and more. In the previous post in this series, we started looking at what editors need to know to work in the academic editing niche. Log in to leave a comment, or join the discussion over on Facebook or Twitter.