Editing involves making or suggesting changes to a written text to ensure that it does the best possible job in communicating the author’s message to readers. This goes beyond merely checking spelling and grammar: an editor will assess whether the document is structured properly, contains all the necessary elements, is expressed in the right tone and abides by the expected guidelines and writing conventions. There are three generally recognised levels of editing: substantive editing, copyediting and proofreading. At workwisewords we offer all three levels as well as a range of other services – manuscript assessment, thesis editing, content writing/rewriting, Plain English rewrites and indexing – to support you from beginning to end of your publishing process. For more information on editing see the Editing Services page.
Editing is primarily concerned with grammar and style. Copy editors ensure proper usage, fix language and phrasing, identify inconsistencies in style or content, ensure meaning is clear and consistent, and improve writing style (e.g., word choice, sentence structure and expression). Proofreading identifies typographical and formatting/layout errors and checks the accuracy of cross-references. In practice, editing will generally incorporate proofreading (over one or more rounds of editing).
Yes – IPEd members are bound by the Institute’s Code of Ethics. Among other things, the Code of Ethics covers integrity, professionalism and competence, respect for confidentiality and respect for conflicts of interest. It is a requirement of members of IPEd that they comply with this Code of Ethics. For more detail, see the discussion of the Code on the Editing Services page.
Editors draw on a wide range of guidelines depending on the client, document and intended audience. For Australian documents my default guides are the Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Publishers (6th edition) and the Macquarie Dictionary (7th edition), supplemented where needed by specialist style and citation guides (e.g. the Council of Science Editors’ Guide to Scientific Style for science Writing, or the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, 4th edition, for legal writing). For academic writing the style and citation guide specified by the client will be used (e.g. APA7, Harvard, Vancouver, Chicago, MLA, ACA, OSCOLA etc). Other supplementary sources include the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary and the Cambridge Australian English Style Guide. For clients writing in US, UK, Canada or New Zealand English, the appropriate references will be substituted (e.g. The Chicago Manual of Style and Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for US usage). Of course, where an institution, journal or publisher specifies a particular style guide it will take precedence over the default guides. Editing is also informed by a range of sources on accessibility, non-discriminatory language and Plain English where appropriate.
Links to a wide range of guides on writing, punctuation, grammar, spelling, word usage and citing and referencing can be found on the Resources page.
Choosing An Editor
Since 2008, the national industry body for editing, the Institute for Professional Editing (IPEd) has run national accreditation exams every two years. Under the accreditation framework, editors must pass a three-hour exam with a minimum overall mark of 80% and no less than 65% in any section of the exam. The exam is administered by IPEd’s Accreditation Board and is designed to measure an editor’s competence against the benchmark of the Australian Standards for Editing Practice. Accredited Editors must then re-apply for accreditation every five years by demonstrating ongoing employment as an editor and continued professional development. Editors who obtain and maintain accreditation may use the designation AE (Accredited Editor) after their names.
Employing an Accredited Editor means that you can be confident your editor has been independently and objectively assessed as having a high level of professional competence and understanding of editing standards, skills, ethics and knowledge.
The Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS), founded in 1991, is a US-based international industry body for professional editing in the life sciences. To meet employers’ and clients’ need for an objective test of editorial skill in this specialised area, BELS developed a process for testing and evaluating proficiency in editing in the life sciences.
The certification examination is a 3-hour test of scientific editing in English. It resembles the standard tests used in many professions to certify practitioners. The program is designed to assure employers or clients of editors that a Board-certified editor has established a high level of credibility. Editors who successfully complete the certification examination may use the designation ELS (Editor in the Life Sciences) after their names.
No – or at least not just because they are the cheapest. There’s nothing wrong with considering price as a factor when choosing an editor but it should not be the principal consideration. The most important thing is to find an editor who is right for you and right for the project. This means being sure your editor is professionally competent, bound by appropriate industry codes of ethics, and experienced in editing in the field, and for the type of product, relevant to you. Professional accreditation and demonstrated expertise through previous work are as important, if not more important, than price alone.
Another thing to consider is that some large editing business offer low prices but farm out work to unqualified and unaccountable subcontractors. It is important to be sure that the editor who is working on your project is experienced and qualified – not merely ‘overseen’ by a qualified editor.
While many Australian editors work with international clients, for Australian and New Zealand clients it is usually advisable to work with an editor who is a professional member of the Institute for Professional Editing (IPEd). This way you can be assured that your editor is bound by the Australian Standards for Editing Practice, the industry Code of Ethics, and (for thesis editing) the Australian Guidelines for Editing Research Theses. Local editors will also be familiar with Australian/New Zealand practices and policy, such as local copyright law, or university policies on plagiarism. And while some overseas editing businesses offer low prices, many farm out work to unqualified and unaccountable subcontractors
The national industry body for editing, the Institute for Professional Editing (IPEd), maintains a directory of professional freelance editors in Australia and New Zealand. This directory has the advantage of allowing users to filter listing by professional status (i.e. accredited vs non-accredited editors), services offered (e.g. copyediting, indexing, layout, manuscript assessment etc.), product or medium (e.g. thesis, fiction book, technical report, tender or grant application etc.) and subject or field (e.g. law, humanities, medicine and health sciences etc.). The editors listed in the directory are all professional members of IPEd, which means they must have a demonstrated background in working professionally in the field of editing.
Yes – most if not all universities recognise the value of professional editing for theses and will have guidelines for such editing on their website. It is important that in engaging an editor you comply with these guidelines, which are also reflected in the Institute for Professional Editing’s Guidelines for Editing Research Theses. It is essential – and your editor will ask for confirmation – that you have your principal supervisor’s approval to engage an external editor. Many universities will also require that you provide your editor with a copy of the university’s policy or guidelines (and most professional editors will already have a copy).
Most universities allow postgraduate students and other researchers to draw on their research funding (or provide separate funding) to cover the cost of professional editing for theses and journal articles. Your institution may prefer to pay the invoice directly, or reimburse you once the invoice has been paid. I will work with you to identify the necessary steps and use the appropriate quoting and invoicing channels.
The Guidelines for Editing Research Theses outline the nature and extent of services professional editors may ethically provide when editing students’ theses and the responsibilities of editors, students and supervisors relevant to editing. The Guidelines apply to all forms of research theses, including an exegesis that may accompany a creative work submitted for examination.
The original Guidelines were developed collaboratively in 2001 by the forerunners of the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) and the Australian Council of Graduate Research (ACGR) and were revised in 2010 by IPEd and approved by ACGR. A further revision, the current version, was published in February 2019.
Yes – academic editing is the majority of my work and postgraduate theses and dissertations are the largest component. I have experience editing numerous theses across a broad spectrum of fields and research, from predominantly quantitative work through mixed method approaches to interpretivist and phenomenological research paradigms. I also have experience across the spectrum of thesis formats, from standard narrative structures, to theses by publication, to thesis (or exegesis) plus portfolio for creative research. I also edit research from a broad range of fields, including medicine and health sciences; law, criminology and public policy; education and social work; commerce and economics; science, engineering and ICT; the humanities and social sciences, and more. To see some of the theses and other postgraduate research I have edited, visit my list of Past Work.
Yes – I routinely edit and format articles for submission to scholarly journals to comply with the specific journal style and layout requirements. I am a listed freelancer with several journal publishers, including Brill, Emerald Group Publishing and De Gruyter, and have worked with many others.
No – in some circumstances it may help the editor to have research or academic experience, but it is rarely necessary. The editor’s primary task is to improve your expression and structure, not your ideas or content. As such, it is important that they are experts in their field (writing), not yours. In fact, for theses and dissertations the Guidelines for Editing Research Theses prohibit editors from making any substantive corrections to the intellectual content – so, while a familiarity with postgraduate research may be helpful, whether they have a PhD is not relevant to the work an editor can do for you.
Generally not – the editor’s role is to correct or improve your grammar, style and formatting. As such, it is important that they are experts in their field (writing), not yours. In fact, for theses and dissertations the Guidelines for Editing Research Theses prohibit editors from making any substantive corrections to your intellectual content. However, being effective as an editor includes knowing the terminology and conventions appropriate to the work at hand. If you work in highly specialised or technical area, it is worth checking whether an editor has qualifications (such as accreditation, or certification in science editing) for editing in your field, or has had experience editing work in similar fields.
Yes – as part of the editing process I will ensure that all citations and the bibliography are consistent with your nominated style; and that all works cited in the text are present in the bibliography (and in the case of a references section, that only works cited in the text are listed).
Where there are a small number of cited sources or publication details (e.g., page range or volume for journals, place of publication for books) missing from the bibliography or references, I may – time permitting – undertake online research to fill in the missing information. Generally, however – and in all cases where the workload would be significant – bibliographic research is a separate service and will need to be requested and paid separately from editing.
Yes – as part of the editing process I will ensure that footnote numbering and cross-references (e.g. to notes, diagrams and tables) are correct and remain correct following any editorial changes; that citations and bibliography are consistent with your nominated style; and that all works cited in the text are present in the bibliography (and, in the case of a references section, that only works cited in the text are listed).
Where there are a small number of cited sources or publication details (page range or volume for journal, place of publication for books) missing from the bibliography of references I may – time permitting – undertake online research to fill in the missing information. Generally, however – and in all cases where the workload would be significant – bibliographic research is a separate service and will need to be requested and paid separately from editing.
Yes – unless otherwise agreed, if you wish to have the references edited they should be included in the word count. Please contact me to discuss alternative arrangements.
For Australian documents my default guides are the Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Publishers (6th edition) and the Macquarie Dictionary (7th edition), supplemented where needed by specialist style and citation guides (e.g. the Council of Science Editors’ Guide to Scientific Style for science Writing, or the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, 4th edition, for legal writing). For academic writing the style and citation guide specified by the client will be used (e.g. APA7, Harvard, Vancouver, Chicago, MLA, ACA, OSCOLA etc). Of course, where an institution, journal of publisher specifies a particular style guide it will take precedence over the default guides.
Yes – as part of the editing service I will style and format the document to comply with university, journal or publisher requirements. Unless otherwise specified document will be style for electronic submission but I will also format documents for print and binding upon request.
Yes – if you have not already created your document’s preliminaries/front matter I can do so in accordance with your institution’s thesis examination guidelines as part of the formatting and layout process at no additional cost. If you have already created the preliminaries I will still edit and format them to ensure they comply with your university’s requirements.
No. Paying or otherwise allowing someone else to produce graded academic work for you is deliberate plagiarism and as such is a form of academic misconduct. Deliberate academic misconduct is a serious failure of integrity and in most universities can lead to expulsion. Note also that on the advice of the Higher Education Standards Panel the Australian Government is preparing legislation imposing legal penalties for ‘contract cheating’ in academic work.
Yes. However, if you are concerned that your paraphrasing of sources is not sufficiently original – often a concern for ESL students in particular – you should speak first to your principal supervisor. Most universities will provide you with free access to TurnItIn or a similar platform that can help you identify text which may be detected as possible plagiarism when you submit your thesis. If you do not have this access, I can produce an iThenticate (a related plagiarism detector also used by most universities) report for you. The cost of producing this report is not included in the standard fee for thesis editing as I have to purchase iThenticate credits on a per use basis.
Where I find plagiarised text or other material – or material that I reasonably believe to be plagiarised – in a thesis I will not edit the passage in question. The edited thesis will be returned to the client with the passage highlighted and a comment added suggesting the author discuss with their supervisor whether the material in question complies with their university’s policies on academic integrity.
Working with workwisewords
I work through weekends and public holidays and can be contacted seven days a week. Turnaround can vary by project and can be negotiated with the client depending on their timeframe and my other projects.
All prices are quoted and invoiced in Australian dollars. Clients paying invoices in currencies other than Australian dollars should be aware that the cost in their currency may fluctuate slightly depending on the time of payment due to exchange rate variations.
Yes. The GST component will be clearly identified in all quotes and invoices and is payable wherever the client is based in Australia or the text is for use in Australia.
Details of payment options will be provided in the invoice; currently these options include electronic funds transfer (including credit card payment), BPay, PayPal and Stripe. Terms of payment vary according to the client and project but, for private clients (i.e., where the invoice is not being paid by a publisher, university or other institution) I require payment in full prior to commencing editing for projects under $500. For projects between $500 and $1000, I require a deposit of $500 prior to commencing editing with the balance payable before return of the edited document. For projects over $1000, I require a 50% deposit prior to commencing editing with the balance payable before return of the edited document. Please contact me to discuss alternative payment arrangements.
workwisewords is located in Canberra and I am happy to meet in person with Canberra-based clients. For clients outside Canberra, if you’d like to talk directly I can arrange to connect via phone or Skype.
For confidentiality reasons I do not provide examples of editing from past projects. I charge a flat fee for producing a sample edit of up to 1000 words; this cost is deducted from the total fee if the client decides to proceed with editing for the full document.
Yes. In most cases it is better to edit the final document but if you are still drafting I can work on a part-document or chapter-by-chapter basis.
Most clients share their files via email or a file-sharing platform. Where the client prefers to use file-sharing (e.g. for reasons of file size or for confidentiality) I will arrange a single-user file-sharing channel – usually Dropbox or Google Docs.
The majority of documents I edit are Microsoft Word (.doc, ,docm and .docx) files, and the Track Changes function in Word makes it one of the best platforms for editing (and for reviewing editorial suggestions). If possible, I strongly recommend providing documents in these file types – noting, however, that some schools and universities have rules requiring the use of other file types. For PDF files, editorial mark-up is provided using the Comment and Edit functions. LaTex files should be exported to PDF or accompanied by a Word version for editing. I also work with other word processing platforms, such as Pages. If in doubt, please contact me to discuss your requirements.
Yes – while most editing projects involve electronic files I do edit/proofread hardcopy. Hardcopy documents will be marked-up manually with a key to the mark-up used provided to the client with the returned manuscript. Hardcopy documents will be returned to the client via registered mail.
I do not have a fixed surcharge for urgent or short-turnaround projects. If you have an urgent deadline please contact me to discuss arrangements.
workwisewords regularly undertakes work involving sensitive or commercial-in-confidence information, protected intellectual property and draft documents at stages not intended for public release. I have a baseline security clearance and we have procedures in place for secure file sharing and storage of information. Documents are stored offline on a password-protected system and we and can work through our own password-protected platform or through the client’s own file-sharing platform where preferred. All documents are treated as confidential, and all client information and work is also protected under our privacy guidelines.