What’s the difference between academic editing and academic proofreading? After all, both services make your writing better, right? What more can there be to it?
At Oxbridge Proofreading we think there is a significant difference between academic editing and academic proofreading, and it is important that you choose the option that is most appropriate to you.
The difference is fundamentally about the level of work that needs doing to improve your writing. An academic proofreading service is designed for the kind of work that is already very well written, and needs a fresh and perhaps more expert set of eyes to check over it to ensure that everything is correct. An academic editing service, in contrast, will consist of an attempt to more actively improve the style, structure, and tone of your writing, with an academic focus.
In practice this means that your editor will be aiming not just to correct mistakes, but to improve areas that are perhaps ungainly, incoherent, or a little badly worded, but are not strictly agrammatical or wrong. The editor will make these changes to make your writing more clear and elegant.
Original: “With regard to nation state artificiality, it is worth mentioning Davies 2012 state creation is predetermined by political borders.”
Potential academic proofread: “With regard to nation state artificiality, it is worth mentioning that Davies (2012) argues that state creation is predetermined by political borders.”
Potential academic edit: “Davies (2012) argues that states are created by political borders, and must therefore be considered artificial.”
This demonstrates a number of things that academic editing does. The first and most obvious is the restructuring of the sentence to make it cleaner and more declarative: the topic of the sentence, artificiality, is no longer preposed, but placed at the end, so the sentence logically argues towards it, and the passive voice (“…predetermined by…”) has been made active to make this causal chain clearer. The style has been made more academic, with the more informal “worth mentioning” removed, but also less jargony by the breaking up of the long, polysyllabic noun phrases like “nation state artificiality”.
In addition to the stylistic changes, the referencing has been corrected. This is another important feature of academic editing, and something a lot of students can struggle with. Good referencing is essential to demonstrate the source of your ideas, to give indications of your reading, and to show that you can master an academic style and produce professional work.
This is the focus of academic editing, and is essentially why it differs so much from academic proofreading: the edit is designed to improve the style of your work and thereby improve the impression that it can make on your readers and markers. The content won’t be changed at all, but the way in which it is presented will be sharpened and perfected.
Simply put, academic editing is about presentation.