How To Proofread Academic Documents for Yourself and Others

How To Proofread Academic Documents for Yourself and Others
The effective proofreading of complex scholarly and professional documents is extremely challenging, yet how to do proofreading seems to receive a lot less attention than the reasons for proofreading or the consequences of neglecting this vital aspect of successful writing. Excellence in proofreading requires intelligence, insight, patience, sensitivity, objectivity, precision, flexibility, discernment, persistence, exceptional language skills, an eye for detail and the larger picture, and a willingness to read both carefully and critically. Some authors may possess many of these qualities and skills and have the time and determination to apply them to their own writing, but most will not and will therefore find the services of a professional proofreader extremely beneficial.
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If you are proofreading your own writing, you will be able to alter content and rewrite sentences at will, but you will also need to be especially attentive to every detail because it is all too easy to miss errors and ambiguities when you already know what you intended to write. If, on the other hand, you are working on documents produced by other authors, the question of how much to change while correcting and clarifying the writing of another person always arises. When considering how to do proofreading professionally, the answer in virtually every situation is to change as little as possible. The text you are working on is not your own, and your job is not to rewrite it, but to make the corrections and alterations necessary to allow the author’s writing to convey his or her meaning clearly and effectively. The focus should be on observing the rules and conventions of formal scholarly writing and removing the obstacles, such as incorrect grammar, spelling and punctuation, that may prevent readers from understanding what an author is attempting to communicate. Given the variations in writing style among individual authors and disciplines, it can at times be difficult to determine if an author’s usage is truly incorrect or problematic, but constructive commentary can draw the author’s attention to aspects of a manuscript that do not necessarily require correction, yet could perhaps be improved.
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Virtually all academic and scientific documents must adhere to discipline-specific styles and conventions, and most must also meet precise and detailed requirements, such as the author instructions provided by scholarly journals or the university or department guidelines for doctoral theses. Any advice on how to do proofreading must therefore include consulting these guidelines carefully and applying them with precision and consistency throughout a document. Authors may, for instance, do their best to follow journal guidelines while adding in-text citations and compiling lists of references for the articles they intend to submit for publication, but it is the proofreader’s job to ensure that every piece of punctuation or instance of italic font is exactly where it should be. The same is the case with the organisation of a document when the author instructions give a specific template to follow, so a proofreader must be alert to the order in which material should be presented, the format of section headings, and any numbering, spacing, capitalisation and fonts that are used to enhance a logical and effective layout. Major changes are usually best left to the author, and constructive comments and suggestions can encourage such revisions, but minor alterations can certainly be made by the proofreader, ideally with a brief explanation if the reasoning behind the changes might be unclear to the author. If you are proofreading your own text for adherence to guidelines, go back and check through the instructions again rather than trusting your initial arrangements, and do so with particular care. You are acting as your own second set of eyes, and that requires an especially sharp focus.

Remember that when you are professionally proofreading documents for other authors, you should treat their work with the utmost respect and sincerely try to help them achieve what they intend. Clear communication about the proofreading process can enable a client to perceive the true value of your work, so do be sure to offer comments and suggestions that highlight and explain what you are thinking and doing. Such commentary should be placed in marginal balloons or a separate document, and should never be inserted into a client’s text, because if any inserted comments are overlooked by the author, they will become errors, and the introduction of errors should always be avoided by professional proofreaders who know how to do proofreading successfully.

Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At we offer the highest quality journal article editing, phd thesis editing and proofreading services via our large and extremely dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals. All of our proofreaders are native speakers of English who have earned their own postgraduate degrees, and their areas of specialisation cover such a wide range of disciplines that we are able to help our international clientele with research editing to improve and perfect all kinds of academic manuscripts for successful publication. Many of the carefully trained members of our expert editing and proofreading team work predominantly on articles intended for publication in scholarly journals, applying painstaking journal editing standards to ensure that the references and formatting used in each paper are in conformity with the journal’s instructions for authors and to correct any grammar, spelling, punctuation or simple typing errors. In this way, we enable our clients to report their research in the clear and accurate ways required to impress acquisitions proofreaders and achieve publication.

Our scientific proofreading services for the authors of a wide variety of scientific journal papers are especially popular, but we also offer manuscript proofreading services and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit manuscripts in all scholarly disciplines, as well as beyond them. We have team members who specialise in medical proofreading services, and some of our experts dedicate their time exclusively to PhD proofreading and master’s proofreading, offering research students the opportunity to improve their use of formatting and language through the most exacting PhD thesis editing and dissertation proofreading practices. Whether you are preparing a conference paper for presentation, polishing a progress report to share with colleagues, or facing the daunting task of editing and perfecting any kind of scholarly document for publication, a qualified member of our professional team can provide invaluable assistance and give you greater confidence in your written work.

If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

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