When I was in graduate school, I met with one of my mentors – a new Assistant Professor – and asked her if she planned to submit an article based on a recent talk she had given. She told me that the paper was too long and she was considering hiring a professional editor to get it from 10,000 to 8,000 words. I had no idea that academics used professional editors, and something about it did not seem right. The idea that an intellectual would pay someone to do their intellectual labor did not sit well with me. It was not until many years later after I finished graduate school and had a job of my own, that I came to see the benefits of using a professional editor. I realized that editors do not do intellectual labor for you. Instead, they polish your prose and allow your intellectual contributions to become clearer. Moreover, I began to use an editor myself. I realized that, whereas I may have great (even publishable) ideas, I had not learned how to present them in the best possible form, and a professional editor could help me with that.

In this post, I will discuss three of the benefits to using a professional editor. Many academics do not have the skills to edit their own work. Using a professional editor is one way to teach you those skills. Professional editors are just that, professionals. This means that they can edit your work quickly and professionally and save you time. Using a professional editor can help you get more work under review, and, ultimately, published. Using a professional editor will improve your writing. Most graduate programs do not include any writing training. As a consequence, many academics are not very good writers. We split verbs, dangle modifiers, use too many adjectives, use long and convoluted sentences, misuse words, and misplace punctuation marks. Using a professional editor will help you to see which errors you most frequently commit, and to correct them. The first time I used an editor, I learned grammar and style rules I never had known before and realized that I repeated the same errors over and over again.

The best way to find out which errors you commit most frequently is to have a professional edit your text and tell you. For those of you on the tenure clock, time is of the essence. The less time you spend poring over every detail of your article, the quicker you can get it under review and accepted. Paying a professional editor to turn your almost-finished article into a well-polished piece of work can be a fantastic investment. It is no secret that many academics are perfectionists. Paying someone to do the final editing can take off some of that pressure to be perfect and save you a lot of time. A well-written paper gives you an edge in the peer review process. When reviewers receive papers that have grammatical errors, it turns them off. Many think that your grammatical carelessness could be indicative of carelessness in other areas. If you write “loose” instead of “lose,” or if you code a variable incorrectly or did not transcribe your interview quotes or archival documents with precision, reviewers may look down on this.

On the other hand, having an article free of grammatical and stylistic errors allows reviewers to focus exclusively on the quality of your work, and not on your minor errors. Even if your article is not accepted, the feedback you receive will be more useful as the reviewers’ critiques will not be influenced by their negative opinions of your writing. Have a nearly finished article on your desk that you are nervous about sending out? Consider sending it to a professional editor to help you get to that last hurdle of finishing and submitting it. I often receive emails requesting recommendations for professional editors. There are five editors that I can recommend, and I have listed their information below. There are at least three levels of editing: (1) developmental editing; (2) editing for style and content; and (3) proofreading. Developmental editing is the most time-consuming and costly and requires the highest level of expertise.

Proofreading involves fixing errors and editing is somewhere int he middle. Like writers, editors have different styles, and it can be hard to find one whose style matches your own. Each of these professional editors are people that scholars have recommended to me. Kate Epstein has helped many writers bring their books into the world. She’ll point out the weaknesses in your arguments, show you how to use structure to make your writing easier to read, and all the while cheerlead for your work. I no longer send out an article without passing it by Kristy first, and my nerves are the better for it. You can email her at poet300@msn.com. Kristy S. Johnson -MFA in creative writing, Freelance Editor for 12 years. Focuses: Dissertations/Thesis, Academic Articles/Book Chapters, Book Proposals, Job Applications, CVs/Resumes, Fiction and Non-Fiction Books, etc. Field focuses: Humanities, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology and other Social Sciences, Linguistics, and Education.

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