Yes, You Need an Editor (Pt. 1)!

Uncle-Sam copy

OK, now that I’ve introduced myself, we can get down to business. How do you know if you actually need to hire an editor? You’ve got a reasonably good grasp of your native language. You know how to string words together into sentences. You might have even passed your Advanced Placement English class with a solid B. You surely don’t need a busybody editor peering over your shoulder, ready to hack your work to pieces. Right? Well, hold on a minute before you decide that editors are a waste of time and money. See if you recognize yourself in any of the statements below.

It’s Perfect and Doesn’t Need Any Changes!

Oh, dear! If you’ve said this about your manuscript, you might be very surprised to know that’s often a red flag for me to go over everything even more carefully. It’s most often a sign that you’ve spent too much time so close to your work that your brain can no longer see the grammar, spelling, or wording errors.
The solution is a fresh pair of eyes, which is precisely why you need an editor. In essence, I am your test audience. I am seeing it for the first time, just as your readers will. Isn’t it better that I catch any mistakes before your readers see them? And maybe I can use my fresh eyes to really make your writing sparkle!

I Don’t Need to Explain Everything!

Whoops, this sounds like a case of expert syndrome! This happens when you assume that everyone who reads your paper has your specific depth of knowledge on the subject. Your paper ends up as a jumbled mess of jargon and abbreviations that makes little to no sense to most of your readers because they don’t have your level of expertise. It could be a very smart, insightful article, but it may be lost in the translation.

So what’s the cure for a case of expert syndrome? First, I will look for certain signs, such as abbreviations that are not spelled out, overly detailed explanations, and complicated or confusing figures or tables. Next, I will attempt to improve the wording and sentence structure so they will make more sense to readers. The end result will be a more “plain-language” paper that introduces your ideas to a wider audience in a more approachable way.

You Might Change the Science!

I hear this often from my STEM research clients, as I specialize in editing highly technical or scientific papers. You are concerned that I might accidentally change the technical or scientific implications of your work. Given that you have worked for years to get to this point in your research, your fears are completely understandable.
First, I am not a researcher. That’s not my job. Instead, my job is to enhance the presentation of your research by improving the spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. Second, I will send your manuscript back with the Track Changes feature turned on, so that you can see every change I have made. I will also make notations in places where I want to call your attention to particular wording changes so that you can confirm that I have not inadvertently altered the technical or scientific meaning. Bottom line: You will always have the last word on the actual science or technology presented in your paper!

If you find yourself wondering if you need to hire an editor, the answer will almost always be a very emphatic YES! My job is to make your research shine…and isn’t that what you want?

Next time: Yes, you need a writer/content creator!

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