How to... proofread your work Part: 1

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How to... proofread your work

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The stages of writing

Writing is an iterative process of drafts, submission for review, revising and editing. A careful author will want to subject work to a final read-through at the following two stages of submission:

  • to the editor of your chosen journal, for consideration for publication
  • to production once the paper has been accepted.

Because of the nature of journal publishing, with its peer review process, the interval between the two stages may be many months, and in the intervening time, the paper may have changed substantially.

The revision processes with which we are concerned here will be very different to that which takes place after peer review, which will be concerned with structure and content. At this stage you will be mainly happy with the latter and will be more concerned with accuracy at sentence level – the technical side of language i.e. grammar, spelling, etc. The two types of revision can be summarized as follows (the funnel to indicate that at editing stage, the work is more complete and less likely to change radically):

Image: Types of revision

The stages of writing, revising and editing will vary (for example, practitioner journals may not have a peer review stage) but the following is a typical pattern, with the editorial revision stages highlighted with a red ring round them:

Image: Stages in drafting and redrafting a research paper

If your command of English is not that of a native speaker, you may wish to approach your journal editor and check whether he or she is prepared to look at a draft which has not been polished and edited, to enable you to avoid a process which is likely to be more than usually time-consuming. You may also wish to use the Emerald Editing Service.