Research paper editing

How to improve a research paper

Once you’ve written your paper, the next important step is to make your paper better. This step includes research paper editing and it should be completed before deciding to submit your work.

Read on for further information and guidance on how to edit your manuscript.

What is editing a paper?

This is the process of evaluating and making changes to your paper before submitting to your target journal. Editing is a big task, but it is a crucial part in your publishing journey. Most successful publications have been through several rounds of editing.

Benefits of editing

The importance of editing after writing your paper is to make sure that it is persuasive and well-rounded to the reader. No matter how significant your research is, to be successful during the peer review process your manuscript must be properly edited

The effectiveness of your writing style and clarity of your work can be significantly improved by good editing. The purpose of the editing step is to make sure your paper is written in an order that communicates your research, and your ideas are presented in the best way.

English language editing particularly targets passive voice writing and run-on sentences for removal or correction.

To produce a research paper that will make an impact on your target readers, you should understand the kind of editing your paper needs and how editing works in the process of preparing your manuscript for submission.

Revising and editing are sometimes used interchangeably but this is not the case, there is a difference between revising and editing.

Difference between revising and editing

Error type Revising Editing
Grammar errors X
Spelling errors X
Punctuation errors X
Typographical errors X
Logical flow X
Unnecessary information X
Suitable for audience X
Run-on sentences X
Word choice for audience X
Adding important details X
Clarifying views X
Improving idea presentation X
Structure & organization X X

Types of editing  

There are few different types of editing your research paper might need, they will all help you to avoid mistakes, make your paper easier to read, and help you meet journal requirements.

Some researchers believe that they only need to edit their work for spelling mistakes and grammar, but you must also have the right structure and presentation for your paper, to increase your chances of publication success.

  • Content editing
    This analyzes the organization and presentation of your research. This editing process encourages you to answer questions about your paper like; does the paper make sense? Does it have a good flow? Are the arguments clearly developed and communicated? Are there any major logical gaps?  

  • Copy editing
    When you are copy editing your research paper, you’ll make corrections to spelling and punctuation, focusing on grammar, word choice, and enhancing your writing quality. 

  • Line editing
    The ‘line-to-line’ check of your research paper’s word choice and writing impact, makes this process like copy editing. Here you will make changes to your work that will give you a strong position paper. Look out for phrasing that sounds imitative and fix run-on sentences. Focus on clarity and simplify your writing so that the meaning is clear and not overly complex.

  • Mechanical editing
    Now that your paper has been edited for structure, content, coherence, style, flow, grammar, and word choice, it’s time for a final, but very important editing step. Mechanical editing makes sure that your paper conforms perfectly to the style guide of your chosen journal.

After your paper has been through all these different types of editing, you will be left with a well-presented journal article. You will demonstrate good use of language and could stand a much greater chance of being accepted by your target journal.

Expert help for your manuscript

Taylor & Francis Editing Services offers a full range of pre-submission manuscript preparation services to help you improve the quality of your manuscript and submit with confidence.

How to edit 

Now you know about the different types of editing, how should you approach editing your paper?

Correcting your own writing is known as self-editing. This process helps you take a critical look at your manuscript, making changes to your draft until it is in the best possible shape.  

The self-editing process

  • Understand your draft
    The purpose of your first draft is to put all your information into readable, clear sentences and paragraphs. This step can be referred to as revising. It requires looking at the “big picture” of your writing. While it takes a little longer to edit from printed work, printing your manuscript allows you to see if there is deviation from what you intended to write and what you typed. This will refresh your eyes and help you become “detached” from your own work. Quickly read through the paper once, highlighting areas of concern with your red pen. 

  • Take a break
    After reading through your printed work, it is time to take a break from it. It may seem most efficient to continue working due to a deadline, it will not be the most effective. Staying away from your paper allows you to revisit the work with a fresh set of eyes.

  • Read for structure
    If you have not read your paper out loud yet, it is time to do so. Be intentional about listening for the flow, structure, and organization of your paper. If something does not make sense or you find understanding difficult, mark the section, and move on. Read it out loud yourself or have someone read it to you. Hearing your content gives you a different way of reviewing. When you have finished, edit your marked errors.

  • Read for grammar and punctuation
    Checking for grammar and punctuation mistakes are part of the editing process most authors focus on. In this step you will be carrying out detailed language checks. As you write more papers, you will get better understanding of your tone and writing style. This will help you to identify the mistakes that you tend to make most often. 

  • Think like a reviewer
    To self-edit effectively, assume the role of a person who has never read your paper before. This will help to put you in a state of mind to find possible issues that can cause the paper to be rejected.

  • Have someone else read your work
    This is not always necessary, but it is helpful. Getting a fresh set of eyes on your content can highlight mistakes you may not have realized.

  • Review
    Make the necessary changes and read through it once more. Check your citations. Get confident in your sentences and paragraph breaks.

  • Hire a professional
    Remember that editing is a two-step process. Once you’ve completed your own edits, using the above guidance, you may still require a professional paper editor to polish and perfect your manuscript for a successful submission. 

Did you know?

With Taylor & Francis Editing Services, you can be rest assured that your paper will stand out to journal editors – for all the right reasons – helping make sure you maximize the impact of your research and improve the quality of your manuscript.