So you’ve just finished the article that you want to submit to a formal journal for publication. Excellent! But unfortunately, although the methodology may be all tied up, the results succinct and the participants have all been thanked for their help, the study may be done but your work isn’t.
The thing about writing is that we tend to see our own work through a particular lens. We get used to how we write, mistakes and all. This means that errors that you don’t see are going to be obvious to other people.
So What Is proofreading?
That is where proof-readers come in! Proof-readers – who can be freelance or take on proof-reading as part of another job – are there to go through your work with a fine tooth-comb, checking your spelling, punctuation and grammar to ensure that what you are saying makes sense.
A variation of this approach is copy editing. Copy-editors do what proof-readers do but they also look at how the document ‘reads’. This is as well as whether the sentences flow, and whether anything needs changing in terms of word order. You can also get variations of editor. For stories, there are editors who will read it and look at the characters and plot specifically. They check whether the plot works and whether the characters make sense. For people who want to engage future readers, this is important!
Take A Break
If you are reading your own document, finish the document, put it down and then walk away. If you can, deadline depending, leave it for a day or two. Work on something else. Do some gaming. Do some creative writing. Game. Get you mind of it. This means that when you return to it, you will be refreshed.
One thing that I do as a proof-reader and editor is perhaps a little weird. I work on the introduction first and then skip to the bottom. I then work from the bottom up. By going out of the order that my brain expects, I find myself able to pick up on more mistakes.
The devil is in the details. Remember to check the references, the headings, sub-headings, tables and graphs. This includes the table content as well and not just their labels and titles. When it comes to publication in particular, the document as a whole matters and people will notice!
Hire A Freelance
If you really feel like you can’t do as thorough of a job proof-reading as you would like to, hire someone! Getting an outside set of eyes in is a sure-fire way to make it the best that you can.