Does technical editing really improve your manuscript?

There are a seemingly endless number of hurdles one has to jump over in order to get your scientific or medical manuscript published. One of the most frustrating can be conforming to journal style. This usually means wading through pages of author instructions, re-writing and re-structuring the paper to meet strict ‘in-house’ requirements, formatting figures, and changing the reference style. While some of this burden used to be shouldered by the journal itself (hence justifying the exorbitant publishing fees), there seems to be a shift to ‘passing the buck’ to the author/scientist/general dog’s body (see here). This is epitomised by the editorial policy at PLOS One, where the copyediting is the responsibility of the author in its entirety.

So is all this editing worth it?

Well, a Cochrane review on the subject suggests the answer is ‘yes’. You can read the whole document here, but it is a dry and slightly laborious read so we’ll summarise it for you:

- peer review and journal editing improve the ‘readability’ of manuscripts
- detailed author instructions improve a paper
- structured abstracts can improve a paper
- technical editing improves the accuracy of references

The magnitude of benefit of ‘technical editing’ (i.e. those steps that occur from acceptance through to publication) are relatively small, mind you. This comes as no surprise to us. In our experience that isn’t where most authors’ manuscripts fall short of excellent. That is not why they are failing to get accepted. Technical flaws are easy to fix (and we can do it for you, see here).

No, it is those elements which are slightly harder to quantify which make or break a paper (particularly in higher impact or general journals). Are the hypothesis and aims clearly stated? Is the most significant result presented with clarity, or is it obfuscated by unnecessary detail? Is there unnecessary use of confusing jargon? Is there repetition both within and between sections? Is the discussion overly long and is this due to over-interpretation of results (usually a problem in short descriptive clinical papers)?

That is why Nextgenediting offers more than just copyediting. Copyediting is just the basics, as far as we’re concerned. Our concept is that we should firstly understand your science (by using expert editors), and only then will we be able to perform the type of structural and conceptual changes which are required to perfect your work. Sometimes that’ll be collaborative (you know the most about your work), but that’s we’re here to read and re-read until we’ve sculpted your words into something better than they were before.

So yes, technical editing is worth it, but be aware you will get so much more from our services. We know you won’t be disappointed.

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