Academic editing involves editing documents for submission to colleges, schools or universities. These documents may be essays, dissertations, theses, papers and so on.
The first step in academic editing is the same as in general editing, that is, ensuring the language is correct in terms of spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax. The student’s institution may require a specific layout, so be sure you know if it does.
Many institutions want their students to follow a particular style. Examples of this include Harvard, MLA, APA, Chicago, AMA, and Oxford. Lists of all such guides can be found online – it is important that these are followed exactly. Students can lose marks for failing to follow style guides precisely.
Any academic editing is likely to include references and a bibliography. These must be correct and follow the appropriate style used in the document. An example of a reference in APA style is given below:
- Berndt, T. J. (2002). Friendship quality and social development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 7-10.
The OWL Purdue guide to referencing in APA for a book with one author states: ʻLast name first, followed by author initials.’ For a book with two authors, it states: ʻList by their last names and initials. Use the ampersand instead of “andˮ.’
All style guides have different rules on where the date should be, whether the author’s initials go before or after the surname, whether or not ampersands should be used and so on. Therefore, it is imperative that checks are made on the style guide and the document itself.
Academic writing needs to be factual, and not make assumptions or inferences. The language has to be precise, formal, follow a logical structure and be supported by evidence. Academic editing therefore needs to ensure the language used meets these criteria.
Most institutions, and styles, will have an order that a dissertation needs to follow. There will be specifications for what needs to go on the title page, which can then be followed by a copyright page, acknowledgements, a preface, abstract, table of contents with page numbers, list of tables, list of figures, list of illustrations and so on. This will be followed by each chapter, with an introduction and main body. Lastly, appendices (if applicable), end notes (if applicable) and finally the references.
As specifications for each section will vary from institution to institution, it is important that each section is looked at closely. Let your editor know what the specifications are so that they can move anything, if needed.
In conclusion, academic editing ensures each academic document follows the appropriate style, format and presentation. The language used must be formal, follow a logical structure and be informative.
Academic editing has to be more structured than regular editing. It also involves following more guidelines and rules than regular editing. Any great editor who has great language skills and has been told which style guide to follow can be a great academic editor. But just remember to choose your editor carefully – ensure they have relevant experience and a great track record.
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