Understanding the Importance of Copyediting in Peer-Reviewed Manuscripts

Copyediting is a fundamental part of the publication process. It can be performed before a manuscript is submitted for peer review or afterwards. The relationship between copyediting and the submission outcome (i.e., acceptance to a journal or conference) is not well understood. To discern the value of copyediting in relation to the review process, I examined peer reviews of manuscripts submitted to a large scholarly conference and surveyed the frequency of terms or phrases in reviewer comments that were associated with copyediting (e.g., “poorly written,” “wordy,” “typo”). I also sought to determine whether the frequency of positive, neutral/unknown, or negative copyediting terminology was correlated with submission outcome (reject and different types of accept). Background Not all researchers are gifted in writing as well as their fields of expertise. Thus, copy editors are sometimes hired to refine a manuscript prior to its submission for peer review. Alternately, some researchers will copyedit their papers themselves. Various scholarly journals also employ copy editors to review and edit articles prior to publication; in this case, copyediting takes place after peer review has been completed and an acceptance decision has been rendered. What is the purpose of the copyediting process? The Society for Editors and Proofreaders states “the aim of copy-editing is to ensure that whatever appears in public is accurate, easy to follow, fit for purpose and free of error, omission, inconsistency and repetition.”1 Among the various types of copyediting is substantive, or content, copyediting whereby a copy editor is concerned with the overall … Continue reading Understanding the Importance of Copyediting in Peer-Reviewed Manuscripts