Meeting standards for science editing - and then exceeding them

The science manuscript editing industry is largely unregulated. Many authors simply don’t know where to start when they take the plunge and decide - either for themselves of because a journal has suggested - to solicit the services of a professional manuscript editing company. That’s probably why, if you Google ‘science manuscript editing’, this Nature article from late 2010 appears in the first few hits: Publishing: A helping hand (Nature 2010; 468, 721–723).

It’s a really useful article for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it provides some advice on careers in science editing, and we will come back to that in another blog post. Most importantly for the consumer, it lists a set of standards one should look for when choosing an editing company. We have had these rules in mind from the earliest days of Nextgenediting, and we can now proudly say that we have met them all.

Their recommendations state:

1. Select a company that specialises in academic editing and has field-specific editors with graduate-level training.

Check. Our editors are subject-specific academics. Our science editors posses doctoral degrees, and out clinical editors possess doctoral and medical degrees. We don’t employ students.

2. Be suspicious of companies that post testimonials with no names or affiliations on their websites.

Check. We take pride in our service. That is why we are proud to announce that we are the first manuscript editing service to open ourselves up to unbiased, comprehensive, unfiltered review using feefo, the independent review company. See our reviews here or on Facebook.

3. Be wary of English-language editing companies based in countries where English is not the native language.

Check. We are based in London and Cambridge, UK. We do not hire non-native English speakers.

4. Ask to submit a 500-word sample edit to see how the company performs.

Check(ish). OK, so we do 300 word samples, not 500, but we will do 500 if you ask nicely.

5. Look for a company with a web-based submission system (where a user logs in, creates an account and uploads the paper). Such companies are likely to be established organisations with a high level of security.

Check. Our current system is security protected by Norton, we use at least three (on site and off site) backup systems, and later in 2013 we will be introducing personalised user accounts.

6. Don't just choose on the basis of price. Consider quality, convenience and turnaround time.

Check. One price, one great service. See our current turnaround times here, and feel free to compare prices with our competitors.

7. Seek a company that offers services such as formatting, help with selecting a journal or translation from another language.

Check. Formatting and journal selection are standard, as are manuscript-specific recommendations (which often amount to peer review) from the editor. Translation services coming soon!

8. Look for a company with a clear privacy policy that requires its editors to sign confidentiality agreements.

Check. All our editors sign confidentiality agreements and you can feel reassured that your data is safe.

So we’ve met the eight standards set by Nature. We feel proud of that, and we think it helps build trust.

But we think it’s our Global Initiative that really sets us apart. The Global Initiative best illustrates our ethos and values when it comes to science, training, and social responsibility, and that is why we we feel we are exceeding standards in this industry. We hope you agree.

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