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BITC Publication Class 7: Proofing and Editing

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OK, so we've now talked about how to prepare your manuscript, we've talked about how to prepare your figures and your tables. Now, let's imagine that we have a manuscript in front of us. All of us make mistakes as we write a manuscript. Some people write very clean, some people write a little carelessly. So we all have to go through this process of going from very clean to absolutely clean, or from messy to absolutely clean. We all have to learn how to do this proofreading and editing, very well, very effectively, and hopefully very efficiently. So, just to give you a quick example, we may be given a paragraph of text. And this text is going to have some little problems within. I can see things immediately: look at that--a comma after the author or not. Your eye should be looking immediately for consistency and for effective presentation. So, we can take this, and we can edit it... and so notice that I inserted the comma, so now the treatment is parallel, and notice that I am rearranging sentences, I am simplifying ... a whole bunch of things that are designed to make this flow. I find that this kind of editing can sometimes be better to do afterwards, like you write your first draft, and then you find something else to do for a week. But the idea is that you do it much afterwards, and that you don't do it five minutes after you finish your first draft. I think that you can be a bit more objective. So, the publishing industry has developed a whole set of typesetting marks. This is one that a journal sent to me so that I could mark up my proof effectively. It's not the only set of marks, but a very good idea is to learn these marks, or some consistent set of typesetting marks, so that you can mark up text and be understood clearly. And so here are just a few examples of my own markup ... some manuscripts that I have been involved with. And you can see that I have a very consistent style ... basically, when I mark up a manuscript, you can then read continuously and get the final manuscript. Sometimes it gets a little dense ... And it can be harder. Sometimes there are details where the author needs to fill something in. But I try my best to make it such that my editing takes you to the final text. It's rarely one round of editing ... it's usually two or three or four rounds of editing. So that's a first example. Here's a second example, and notice that there are some serious comments going on here ... and then I give some more generic comments ... I do more serious rearranging ... So this is a manuscript that is not going to be submitted with this set of comments ... notice I say, "Clarify what was done." The point is that you make these comments in a clear and comprehensive way. This is an even earlier draft, where we have pretty big discussions about what is the content, but again notice that I am trying my best to give the reader or the colleague or myself a way of inserting and getting closer to final text. So I put in these asterisks, and then for those sites you need to insert that text. These are just tricks for editing. And then, much later in the process, we get to something like this, where I am just making very minor corrections, and, at the end, it's really nice to be able to write ... "SUBMIT ME." My students probably hate me for this, but one thing that I do personally is that I do a lot of my editing on paper, as a way of teaching scientific writing, and so the student has to then go through and delete and delete and delete, and so all of those words to avoid, and all of the hints that we have been talking about, and all of the need for consistency throughout these manuscripts, that gets, essentially, repeatedly and repeatedly communicated to the person who is making the corrections. Again, that's why they hate me ... but the idea is that that's a very good way of teaching the writing process.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: A. Townsend Peterson
Director: A. Townsend Peterson
Views: 26
Posted by: townpeterson on Dec 27, 2012

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