Non-native speakers of English have a particular need for a scientific editor, since mastering the nuances of another language take half a lifetime. But native English speakers tend to think that they have no need for copy editing because, after all, it’s their own language. It isn’t quite so. Just because you can speak a language doesn’t mean you can write it well. Many oily tongued speakers freeze up when confronted with a blank computer screen. And spoken language doesn’t trouble itself with punctuation, all those pesky commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, and hyphens. A professional copy editing service can be a great benefit to a native speaker.
Journals are increasingly deluged with manuscript submissions. They don’t have time to do a lot of editing. A reputable journal will reject a poorly written manuscript, sending it back to the author with a note to edit and resubmit. This wastes time. Careful proofreading will get past this initial screen.
There are some journals that will accept and publish a paper that has bad grammar, clumsy phrasing, and faulty proofreading. But at what cost to the researcher’s reputation? Once an article has been published, the embarrassing errors are there forever. They can’t be corrected. A reputation for sloppy writing is perhaps not as damaging as one for sloppy research, but it definitely should be avoided.
The Value of a Second Opinion
It is remarkable how we can see errors in other peoples’ writing that we can’t see in our own. When I was in graduate school a fellow student took a look at a paper I was writing and pointed out a number of mistakes. I appreciated his help, remarking later to my lab mate, “Mike may not have the greatest lab technique, but he is a good writer.” A few months later I leafed through Mike’s dissertation. The writing was awful. Although he could see the mote in my eye, he couldn’t see the beams in his own.
Having a professional copy editing service proofread a manuscript is a good investment. For a modest cost it can save you a great deal of time, and time is money. It can also save your reputation from being tarnished from errors that might slip past a journal editor.
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