A common weakness in novice academic writing is a lack of flow; for readers, this lack of flow means they can’t easily see how one thought follows from another. To combat this problem, we need to learn how to make effective transitions between sentences. Such transitions are usually managed in one of two ways: through transition words or through evident links in the text. Both strategies have a role to play, but novice writers, unfortunately, often see transition words as their main way of moving from sentence to sentence. [Read more…]
Tip of the Trade: Be strict about the type of editing that is suitable for each stage of the revision process
Advice about academic writing often stresses the iterative nature of the writing process; the creation of an effective final draft generally requires multiple drafts and extensive revision. A crucial corollary to a commitment to extensive revision is an acceptance that revision mustn’t be allowed to go on indefinitely. Otherwise, a certain mania can set in: any draft can always be other than it is. After a certain point, we have to ask ourselves about diminishing returns and about the very real possibility of messing up what is already working. [Read more…]
In this TAA podcast, “The Art of Revising”, Rachael Cayley, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer at the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto, shares strategies to help you revise your academic writing. In particular, Rachael talks about different sorts of revision and the optimal way to sequence the revision process. By developing your overall capacity for revision, you can enhance your experience of writing and improve the eventual reception of your writing. Read Rachael’s article, “The Craft of Revision”, which is based on this podcast, on her blog, Explorations of Style.
Q: What strategies do you use during the revision process?
A: Mike Kennamer: “Before I send the article to an editor, I always read it out loud as part of the editing process. I also try to get colleagues to read it and provide input before I send it off to the editor.
When a section just doesn’t seem to flow as I would like, I will print the article and (literally, with scissors) cut out each paragraph and lay it on the floor in the order that it is in for the article. Then I will start to move certain paragraphs around to see if that helps with flow. I use the floor because it gets me out of the normal place where I write. There is something about sitting on the floor with my work in little paragraph-sized slips of paper that helps [Read more…]
Congratulations on learning English, the current lingua franca of international communication and the most difficult Western language to learn. I’m really glad it’s my native language. As a copy editor, I have worked for many years with scholars whose native language is not English. In 2008 I became house copy editor for the International Review of Public Administration, which at that time was published by the Korean Association for Public Administration and is now published by Taylor & Francis; more recently I took on the same role with Korean Social Science Journal. The majority of articles accepted for publication by IRPA and KSSJ are written by academics native in a language that is not English (with the majority of authors native in an Asian language). That work has led to my developing a specialty in working with ESL/EFL authors. [Read more…]
In a recent TAA webinar presented by Ashley Sanders, “How to Overcome the Perfectionism, Procrastination & Fatigue That Get in the Way of Your Writing,” a participant asked whether you should wait to edit until after you have completed a first draft, or if you should edit while you write. What do you do? Please use the poll below to record your answer.
Elsa Peterson has more than 20 years of experience in textbook and academic publishing as a freelance permissions editor, picture researcher, and developmental editor. Her most recent in-house position was as a senior developmental editor for psychology with McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Peterson recently authored a brief and accessible guide to copyright in the context of publishing titled Copyright and Permissions: What Every Writer and Editor Should Know (New York: Editorial Freelancers Association, 2012). She has also authored numerous articles about the business and craft of editing, and has presented TAA audio conferences on editing and copyright.
Peterson spoke with TAA about the roles of editors and where they fit within the authoring process.
TAA: Can you describe the different editorial services you provide?
Elsa Peterson: “I primarily do developmental editing, which involves working closely with an author to bring the vision for the book to fruition. Development is a long-term process that usually begins with the author’s proposal and extends through the turnover of the manuscript to production. When I do permissions editing, my task is to identify all the material in a manuscript that is under copyright, find the rights holders, and secure their authorization to use the material. Similarly, picture research involves clearing permission to reproduce photographs and works of art; it also includes a creative dimension in helping the author to select the most effective visuals to convey the concepts being presented.” [Read more…]
The after-the-fact outline provides a valuable strategy to help complete a major book or article revision. Sometimes referred to as a reverse outline, I learned of this strategy from Tara Gray, author of the book Publish and Flourish. I have tried most of the advice in her book, and now that I have tried this piece of advice, I had to ask myself: “Why did I wait so long?”
The first thing to point out is that this strategy is not a writing strategy, but a revising strategy. This strategy works best when you have a draft of your article (or a portion of your article) and are ready to rewrite it. It is best if your draft is rough, as you need to feel comfortable with the idea of deleting and/or rearranging large portions of it.
Many novice writers imagine clean, clear prose springing off of the fingertips of accomplished writers. Most writers will assure you that it does not work this way. We first write, and then, revise, revise, and revise some more.
Trying to write perfectly the first time around has three central problems. 1) It takes a long time; 2) It can be a waste of time, as you often can only see at the end of a paper what needs to be cut; and 3) Your writing will not be as good in the end because the best writing comes out of revising.
Writing a spew draft of a chapter or an article allows you to work quickly, and lets you improve your writing through revising. Although you may be able to type very quickly – as quickly as a whole chapter in one week, revising it will take much longer. In their book, Destination Dissertation: A Traveler’s Guide to a Done Dissertation, Sonja Foss and William Waters offer a multi-step approach to revising an article or chapter. I present a slightly modified version of it below, that explains, in ten steps, how to revise an article or chapter.
Step One: Remove all unnecessary information. Take a first pass at your chapter to cut out any sentences or paragraphs that do not contribute to your main argument. To feel better about cutting liberally, save the rough draft of the paper as a separate document so that you don’t lose any writing that you may want to use later. [Read more…]
At last your manuscript is complete. The end is in sight. All that’s left is the editing….
Authors who have seen their books through publication know that if the manuscript has not been edited, the end may be quite far from sight. Editing involves much more than most people realize—it can run the gamut from advice about organization and point of view to checking for typos and misplaced commas.
The work can entail so many different activities that an entire vocabulary has evolved to describe different types of editing goals or tasks: content editing, production editing, formatting, style checking, proofreading, policy editing, and integrity editing, to name just a few. Common editing tasks can be broadly categorized as follows: [Read more…]