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Why Have Your Scientific Paper Edited?

Why edit

Every writer, no matter how good they are, needs an editor. Academic writers should have their papers edited for journal submissions for several reasons. Expert editors can find errors in usage, grammar, and punctuation, along with improving the text’s structure and flow. But they also can do much more than that.

Types of editing

Editors don’t all do exactly the same job. Some manuscript services offer a basic form of editing called proofreading. This work usually involves reviewing only for typos, spelling and grammar errors, and formatting inconsistencies.

If an editor also offers services that involve rewriting sentences, addressing the style of the language or how it flows, and word usage, then that editor is performing line editing. These editors do all the work of proofreading and add in another layer of attention.

Editors who do all of the above and also offer to restructure your manuscript so that it presents a clear narrative and flows logically from beginning to end are doing developmental editing. They will usually first go through the text and look for ways to improve the flow and structure before going back through it again to do final line editing.

Finally, editors such as those at San Francisco Edit (SF Edit) add another layer of depth to the work. In addition to doing all of the above, these editors evaluate the manuscript for content. They bring their doctoral-level expertise to their assessments, as a peer reviewer would do, offering notes and feedback about the content of each section, the presentation, and areas for improvement or streamlining. Editing from SF Edit covers proofreading, line editing, developmental editing, and this level of peer-review expertise.

Why have your paper edited?

Although SF Edit specializes in editing for authors whose first language is not English, any researcher planning to submit their work to a journal or to a grant committee for review can benefit from this kind of editing. Below are a few things that editors at SF Edit do as part of their editing process:

  • Identify the target journal, review that journal’s style and formatting requirements, and ensure that the manuscript conforms with these requirements, such as abstract structure, abbreviations use, and heading styles.
  • Examine sample papers from the journal as guides for other questions about style and formatting.
  • Note redundancies and inconsistencies between text and table or figure elements.
  • Edit the writing to avoid passive construction and use active voice instead, which strengthens the writing.
  • Ensure that the text meets all word count limitations that the journal cites; if the word count exceeds these limits, editors may reduce it if that can be done in the usual course of editing, or note places where the authors can cut down material if they choose to do so.
  • Track abbreviations that you use in your manuscript to make sure that they all have been defined at first use and used consistently thereafter.
  • Check your figure and table numbering to ensure that these elements are numbered in their order of citation in the text.
  • Place elements of the manuscript where the journal requires them for submission, such as placing figure legends at the end of the text, in many cases.
  • Ensure that material is in the appropriate place in the text, so that, e.g., results are first given in the results section and not introduced in the discussion.
  • Note places in the manuscript that could benefit from more explanation, information, or other data, or where analyses seem to have gaps.
  • Edit for clarity of content and a logical flow of information.

The above is not a complete list of what editors at SF Edit do, but it offers a sample of some of the process.

No matter what your language of origin, you can have your manuscript go through this process of deep editing and thorough review before you submit it to a journal or grant review committee. Knowing that a fresh set of eyes with the necessary expertise in writing and science is reviewing your work before appointed peer-reviewers do so can relieve some submission-related anxieties. SF Edit editors are committed to helping you develop a manuscript that meets the submission standards of your target journal.


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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