The Difference Between Scientific Editing and Revising

    When you’ve just finished writing your scientific research paper, often the last thing you want to do is read it again. However, finishing the first draft of your paper is just the first step on your way to publication. Once you’re finished writing, it’s time to move on to the revising and editing stages. While we often use the words “editing” and “revising” interchangeably in everyday speech, they are two very different processes, and both are necessary to make a good paper great. So, let’s look at what is involved in each step of the writing process and learn some tips on how to effectively perform scientific manuscript revision and scientific manuscript editing.

    What is Scientific Revising?
    Scientific revising focuses on content rather than mechanics. Scientific revision is intended to look at the “meat” or substance of your paper. How does it flow? Is there a clear argument? Is your thesis stated clearly? Does your data support your argument and conclusions? When you or the scientific manuscript editing services you hire revise your paper, it is critical to ask all of these questions and more.

    The key points of scientific revising are:

    • Engaging with the substance and content of your paper
    • Identifying weak arguments or unsupported assertions
    • Asking questions of the writer and proposing counterarguments
    • Suggesting or making organizational changes (moving paper sections, adding or deleting paragraphs) to improve logical flow
    • Filling in any gaps in logic and delete unnecessary arguments or tangents to keep the paper focused

    Revising a scientific paper (or any manuscript) requires you to see your paper with new eyes. This can often be difficult for you to do as the author – after all, you wrote it! This is one reason it can be beneficial to hire scientific manuscript editing services, which often provide revision services as well. If that isn’t a viable option, you can employ some techniques to help you approach your paper from a different angle. One technique is to make a “reverse outline” of your paper. When you make a reverse outline, you write down the hypothesis, the main arguments, and the evidence as you read. Comparing this outline to your original outline can help you easily spot any gaps that need to be filled or places where the paper doesn’t flow well.

    You may ask yourself whether scientific revising is even a necessary part of the process or whether scientific manuscript editing services are worth it. But just like it’s rare to do something perfectly the first time, it is a certainty that nobody in history has ever written a paper that could not have been improved through revision. Scientific revising will polish your paper and ensure that it is in the best possible condition for publication.

    What is Scientific Editing?
    What is scientific editing, and how does it differ from scientific revising? The process of scientific editing is, in sum, the process of reviewing your scientific manuscript to ensure there are no distracting technical mistakes. When you perform scientific editing or engage scientific editing services to do the work for you, you are making sure that the paper is easy to read and technically correct. While the revision process focuses on content, the scientific editing process focuses on technical matters and presentation.

    The key points of scientific editing are:

    • Checking for punctuation, capitalization, spelling, grammar and language issues
    • Checking for proper word choice and making changes where needed
    • Ensuring consistency in formatting, style, and citation
    • Ensuring that proper notation is used for scientific formulas
    • Making sentences clear and concise (replacing passive voice with active voice, breaking up sentences that are too long, and so on)

    Just like scientific revising, scientific editing requires that you see your paper anew. Again, it can be beneficial to engage scientific editing services to do the hard work for you, as editing is hard work. If you will be conducting scientific manuscript editing on your own, one tip is to spend a few hours, or a few days, away from your paper. That way, when you come back to it, it will be easier to see it from a fresh perspective, identify technical errors, and make corrections.

    It is important to note that the step of editing usually comes after revising. That way, you don’t need to edit twice (or thrice) to fix any added or moved sections. No matter whether you edit before or after revision, a well-edited paper has a much higher chance of being published than one riddled with typos or errors. You should never skip this step.

    Writing Tip: The Paramedic Method
    One clever method for editing any type of professional writing, including scientific editing, is to use the paramedic method (originally developed by Richard Lanham). The paramedic method is a great way to ensure that your writing is concise and uses active voice. It is particularly helpful for non-native speakers of English, who may have difficulty writing in active voice.

    The steps of the paramedic method are:

    • Circle the prepositions (of, by, for, between, in, on, etc.)
    • Draw a box around each verb
    • Ask, “where’s the action?”
    • Make the doer of the action the subject
    • Eliminate slow introductory phrases
    • Eliminate repetitive phrasing

    Let’s look at an example.


    The Paramedic Method

    This editing technique can easily be applied to scientific editing as well. Let’s try another example:

    It is widely known that the use of chemotherapy drugs has resulted in positive outcomes for the treatment of cancer of most patients.

    After applying the paramedic method, our sentence becomes much clearer and shorter.

    The use of chemotherapy drugs in treating cancer patients has resulted in positive outcomes for most patients.

    Using the paramedic method will help with any kind of scientific manuscript editing.

    How do you know when the scientific revising and scientific editing processes are complete? One clue is that you stop finding big changes to make and are only making small, picky changes. Whether you choose to get pre-submission editorial assistance via scientific editing services or do the revising and editing on your own to create a publication-ready scientific manuscript, both techniques are essential to producing a high-quality, publishable paper.