Word wrangling: the art of editing scientific publications
The main method by which scientists communicate their findings to the world is through journal papers, but many scientists struggle with the task of self-editing, and some find writing itself to be a chore. Understanding the different stages of editing, and what takes place in each of those stages, can help to reduce the complexity of the editing task, assist an author to self-edit, and reduce costs of engaging an editor at a later stage. Further, use of a variety of self-editing tools and resources can reduce the time it takes to edit a document and increase the accuracy of the edit. These include the use of a dictionary, creation of a word list, use of a style guide, and creation of a style list. There are also tools that are available in Microsoft Word as macros, add-ons and software. Some of these tools and resources can be used by the authors but others, because of cost or technical complexity, are used at the corporate-support level or by editors. Online resources may be used to assist in engaging an editor, and understanding the standards expected of a professional editor, codes of practice and expected codes of professional behaviour. Whether the intent is to self-edit, have a colleague review the document, or to engage an editor, the ultimate goal is to improve the communication of the author’s intended main points to the reader, and to ensure the paper itself is accurate, consistent and professional.
Keywords: editing, writing, proofreading, knowledge transfer, communication