Technical Manuscript Editing by John Woodwark

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The full cost of a scientific journal paper has recently [1] been estimated as $200,000 (and this figure is for low-cost India, not Europe or the US). Despite the investment that their work represents, many authors who are not native English speakers submit manuscripts which are not idiomatic to English-language journals. These papers cannot do full justice to their work.

While some journals offer copy-editing of accepted papers, this is less common than it was; conference papers are rarely even proof-read; and, of course, manuscripts that are rejected never receive any benefits from the publication process. Referees often say that language problems contributed to a recommendation of rejection, and those who are not native English speakers themselves can find it particularly difficult to cope with manuscripts which are poorly written and explained.

Improving both the idiom of a manuscript, and its presentation of the underlying ideas, requires someone who is reasonably familiar with the appropriate technical vocabulary and with the publication process, as well as the language. My own experience has been in computer graphics, computer-aided design and manufacture, both in universities and in industry. I also edited an international journal for over a decade. I specialize in editing manuscripts that relate to engineering applications of computers, particularly those that involve geometry. I have also had some success with manuscripts dealing with computer hardware.

I currently charge US $85 an hour and editing the 'average' paper takes about three or four hours: a bargain compared to the $200,000 that you -- or more likely your institution -- may well have spent already.

[1] G. Prathrap, "Cost of research index: what is an SCI paper worth?", Current Science, Vol. 84, No. 3, 10 February 2003.

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