About John Woodwark's technical editing service

What can you do for me as an editor?
    I expect to be able to take a manuscript that is fundamentally sound and improve the English so that it reads more like something written by a technically competent native English speaker. I believe this usually makes a manuscript more attractive to readers and more acceptable to referees (especially, I have often found, those who are not native English speakers themselves), but of course I cannot guarantee the success of your paper.
    You should also be aware that some journals still provide a copy-editing service; in that case, if a paper is strong enough to get past the referees as it stands, the publishers will improve the English idiom (for free) before publication.

What can't you do?
    Plenty. In particular:
* I don't aim to improve the technical quality of your manuscript. I will try to ensure that you are using the correct terminology, and I will tell you about technical mistakes if I happen to spot them. But of course I can never achieve your level of familiarity with your own work, or spend the time (meaning, you would not want to pay for the time) necessary to understand the technical aspects of a manuscript in depth, not to mentioning familiarizing myself with the references you cite. Therefore I don't check the validity of equations, pseudocode, tables, figures etc.
* I cannot sort out a very poorly structured manuscript. Sometimes I recommend that blocks of text are moved or removed, or suggest additional sentences, but I expect authors to have got the basic structure right before coming to me.
Please make sure that you have used a spellchecker before sending a paper to me: UK or US spelling is acceptable. Of course you should also spellcheck your manuscript after making the changes that I recommend.

How does your editing service work?
    You send me a PDF copy of your manuscript, I print it out and mark up my suggested changes using an old-fashioned, but effective, red pen. Then I scan the markup (at 100dpi) and e-mail the resulting PDF file back to you.

Does my manuscript have to be in a particular format?
    I don't demand a specific layout, but to do a good job and give good value I need space. Please make sure that the copy you send to me is:
* In large type (~12pt).
* Set in a single column.
* Double-spaced (or whatever is necessary to leave about 10mm clear between lines).
* On A4 or Letter paper.
* And has margins of at least 40mm (1½") all round.
I realize this increases the number of pages -- a typical paper comes out around 30 sides -- but a cramped copy restricts the scope of the changes I can recommend, takes longer to edit, and makes the results more difficult to understand.

How long does it take?
    Editing up an 'average' manuscript takes between 2 and 4 hours, which includes one pass to mark it up and a second to check the markup, but it's very difficult to judge in advance how long a particular job will take. A manuscript that is difficult to understand needs lots of corrections, but the information to make those corrections comes from a flawed source, so speed of editing declines in some non-linear fashion. But there is also a significant constant term: it takes a while to read through any manuscript carefully, even if hardly any changes are required.

You are welcome to set an upper limit on the time I spend, and I also expect you to tell me the latest date and time by which the markup must be returned. I appreciate being given as long as possible to edit it; equally, I will try and get it back to you as soon as I can. If your deadline is too close, I may not be able to help you if I have other work already underway; and if you give me less than three days you will have to pay my more expensive 'rush job' rate (see below). If you are near to a submission deadline and, perhaps, waiting for the last few experimental results, it is usually better to send me an incomplete manuscript with time in hand, rather than the finished paper at the last minute.

Is one round of editing enough?
    I am reluctant to recommend that a manuscript is sent to me a second time since it suggests that I didn't do a very good job in the first instance and that I would like to be paid to correct my own mistakes. However, as you will be aware, even when writing in your own language and when you are fully familiar with the technical background, it usually takes many passes to get a manuscript into an acceptable state. I am not Superman.

Some authors always ask me to go through their material several times, making their own changes between rounds. Or they have their manuscript edited once before submission, and again after acceptance, when I can also check their response to the referees. A second round of editing commonly takes around half the time of the first, although there are usually plenty of further corrections to be made. Nor is it just a matter of fine-tuning: when the basic language problems have been largely eliminated, it often becomes easier to see how phrases and sentences could be moved around to advantage.

Are there any other restrictions?
    Yes, unfortunately there are.
* My technical competence is limited. If you send me manuscripts within CAD, computational geometry, computer graphics, robotics and adjacent areas, then I should normally be able to advise you on technical vocabulary with some confidence, even if I'm not fully aware of the contribution of your manuscript. I have also edited papers relating to other areas of applied computing, and many on digital electronics and telecommunications; but the further your work is from the areas of which I have direct experience, the less I can help you.
* I will do my best to avoid affecting the technical sense of your paper, but it is your responsibility to ensure that I have not introduced any errors.
* I reserve the right to decline editing work for any reason, including lack of time, unsuitability of the topic or presentation, or simply because the job looks too difficult.
* If you or your institution have any particular requirements, then you should inform me before asking me to edit your manuscript. Note that I will not supply scans of my passport or other personal details, as this compromises my own security.

What do you charge?
    I charge $85 per hour if you allow me three full working days§ for the job. If you need the markup more quickly than that, then I charge a 'rush job' rate of $120 per hour. (These rates are effective from 1 January 2011.)

Note that I do not charge for the time spent in file-handling and correspondence, which usually includes sending you a short list of the questionable points that are raised by most manuscripts, and sorting out anything that you cannot read or understand when you come to use my markup.

Unfortunately my service is not always available: either because I am already fully loaded with manuscripts, or because of other commitments. If you contact me in advance of needing my editing service, then I will tell you my position. I believe that I have a good reputation for meeting deadlines; but if something goes wrong and I cannot return work in time, please note that I do not accept any liability beyond the fee that I would have charged.

§ By "working days", I mean normal weekdays, so that Saturdays and Sundays (and the 25th and 26th December, and the 1st of January) are excluded. By "full" I mean that the manuscript should be available at 9:00 GMT on the day it arrives, and that I don't have to send the markup back until 24:00 GMT on the final day. So, for instance, if you sent me a manuscript before 9:00 GMT on a Monday (18:00 Monday, Korean time), and I returned it to you on or after 24:00 on the following Wednesday (9:00 Thursday, Korean time), then that would count for the $85 rate. But if I received the manuscript at 9:00 GMT on a Friday (18:00 Friday, Korean time), then the three working days would not expire until 24:00 GMT on the following Tuesday (9:00 Wednesday, Korean time).

How can I pay?
    I can accept:
    *Bank (wire) transfers. My account details are printed on all my invoices. Please pay the sending bank's charges, and I will pay the charges levied by my own bank. I would also be grateful if you could ensure that the invoice number is mentioned in the 'advice' to the recipient, so that it appears on the notification that I get from my bank, allowing me to identify your payment without difficulty.
* Paypal to my e-mail address.
I usually send a scan of my invoice with the markup. If necessary, I can also send the original document by airmail; but I cannot guarantee that the postal services will deliver it.

Sometimes invoices have to meet particular requirements so that authors can reclaim money from universities etc. If you want a single invoice to cover a particular set of jobs, or you want the title of a paper to be mentioned on the invoice, or you have any other special requests, then please let me know when you send your manuscript, and not afterwards. I do not issue duplicate original invoices, so invoices have to be returned and reissued if they are incorrect, which is a waste of everybody's time. If an invoice goes astray, I will issue a copy invoice (clearly marked "copy"), or send a scan of the photocopy that I keep in my file.

If you or your university wish to impose any special requirements that must be met before payment, then I expect to be told about them before starting work on your manuscript. Please note that I am not prepared to provide scans or numbers of personal documents, such my passport, birth certificate, etc.

I always acknowledge receipt of payments by e-mail. In that e-mail, I will ask you whether you need a receipt. If you do, I will send a scan, unless you specifically request the original document. Please note that I do not issue statements or any other additional financial documentation.

If you have any questions, or need further details, please e-mail me at the following address:

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