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What You Can Expect from A Scientific Editor


Although editors working for academic editing services will have broad English-language expertise, a scientific editor with a scientific editing service will also have a skill set targeted to science. A background in the sciences, usually to the doctoral level, is important for expertise in scientific editing. When working with a scientific editor, you can expect the following from their expertise and skill.

Editing for scientific journals

A primary skill of a scientific editor is editing academic submissions to scientific journals. Journal article editing requires a deep understanding of several factors involved in a paper’s acceptance to an academic journal.

An editor with a scientific editing service will have experience editing for medical journals and for scientific journals, either for submission or after paper acceptance. A scientific editor typically will have successfully published in scientific journals and understands the journal publishing landscape. The scientific editor will be able to identify the scientific or medical journal’s specific guidelines and requirements for submissions and tailor a manuscript to meet them.

In addition, editing for scientific journals or medical journals also requires knowing the journal’s style and the kind of papers it publishes. A skilled scientific editor will be able to format and style the language in a manuscript to match these features, too.

Some scientific journals accept a broad range of study types, whereas editing for medical journals can mean ensuring that the journal accepts the study the manuscript describes. Some medical journals, for example, do not accept preclinical studies.

An expert eye for scientific editing

Because scientific editors working for academic editing services or scientific editing services usually have training to the doctoral level and beyond, they also can address specific scientific features of manuscripts to be submitted to scientific or medical journals. If your manuscript requires reorganization, a scientific editor has the expertise to spot these structural problems and address them. The scientific editor can ensure that the manuscript has a structure and flow that will make sense to journal editors, reviewers, and readers.

The scientific editor also can engage with the details in a manuscript undergoing editing for scientific journals. In addition to addressing manuscript flow and structure, the scientific editor can spot gaps in the data reporting, omissions of important information, and issues with data analysis, before a peer reviewer ever lays eyes on the material. The scientific editor also can ensure that all elements of a manuscript are placed under the proper headings and are complete enough for an editor, reviewer, and eventually the readers to fully understand the study.

An expert eye for the English language

Depending on the academic editing service or scientific editing service, the scientific editor also can attend to the specifics of the English language. This level of editing, which is the most granular, includes editing each line of the text for typos, grammar, usage, and punctuation.

The level of editing an academic editing service or scientific editing service offers usually starts with the most basic version of this kind of editing, known as proofreading. Proofreading focuses only on finding typos and other essential textual errors. The other levels of editing, from complete sentence restructuring to a complete manuscript structural edit, usually involve commensurate fees and require a seasoned scientific editor to complete.

English language practices vary by region, and editing for scientific journals or medical journals can involve identifying the appropriate regional version of English to use. Some journals, for example, use UK English, but that form of English is not uniform either and references two broad styles. Experienced editors will be able to assess which style a journal uses as part of the scientific editing process.

An expert understanding of academic editing

The scientific editor has an academic background, with training to the doctoral level or beyond. For this reason, an editor working for a scientific editing service will not only understand the grammar, usage, and mechanics of the English language but also will understand the cadences and expectations of academic and scientific communication among peers. With this understanding, during journal article editing, the scientific editor can ensure that the language of your submission meets the conventions and standards of academic science.

A broad and deep understanding of science

Scientific editors are usually trained at least to the doctoral level, and experienced scientific editors also have many years of experience with regular editing of the latest in scientific discovery. The scientific editor will be able to adjust the language in a manuscript to reflect idiomatic English usage without introducing scientific inaccuracies into the text. The broad and deep expertise of a seasoned scientific editor means that manuscripts are in safe hands.

What the scientific editor will do

If you are receiving the complete scope of services from a scientific editing service, the scientific editor will address each level of editing for your manuscript. The editing process will encompass everything from minor typos and other basic corrections involved in proofreading, all the way up to restructuring of the text, if necessary.

Because so many submissions to scientific journals and medical journals will involve the use of figures, tables, and other elements, the scientific editor will ensure that these elements are in the correct order and correctly referenced. This level of detail also can include confirming the results of basic calculations and that the information in the tables and figures conforms with what is presented in the text.

Not all scientific editing services include bibliography editing in the standard service, but can include it for an additional fee. Typically, a scientific editor will edit references to conform with the style requirements of the target medical journal or scientific journal but will not check whether the citation itself has been used accurately.

At the most extensive level a scientific editing service offers, a scientific editor can write or rewrite a manuscript in part or in total. This process is intensive, but in the skilled hands of a seasoned scientific editor, it can ensure that the client’s manuscript is presented with clarity in idiomatic, scientific English that will make the material accessible and acceptable for editors and reviewers of the submission.


San Francisco Edit specializes in scientific editing in the United States and we work with scientists from all over the world.

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