Snapshot journal/copyeditor interns

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Copyeditor interns with Snapshot

Copyediting for Snapshot in 2014 was undertaken by a student intern from strategic communication studies and a postgraduate work experience student from English studies at La Trobe University. The following information was provided to them as a guide to the copyediting process. For future editions, copyediting will be undertaken by the authors following feedback from the lecturer/editor. See the information for lecturers/editors for further information.

Where to begin[edit]

A copyeditor should follow a standard process for copyediting any work. The purpose of editing is to ensure that the author's ideas are presented clearly and that readers will be able to understand the work easily. Be aware of any cultural (or in this case discipline-specific) assumptions and whether this makes the writing unclear. An editor should work to eliminate ambiguity in meaning (unless a piece is intended to be ambiguous, as may be the case in some creative works). In some cases, discipline-specific assumptions are warranted, especially in this realm of academic publishing.

Copyeditors for Snapshot should aim to be non-interventionist in their editing. This means that you should make minimal changes to the work. The work should retain the author's voice and identity - be very careful not to apply your communication style in such a way that it drowns out the author's voice. Remember what it is you are editing - undergraduate student work (not the Nobel prize, or a novel in the running for the Miles Franklin prize!).

Always remember that your editorial changes are merely suggestions - the author has the right to refuse your suggestions. Always treat your authors with respect.

1. The first read[edit]

You will only ever get one chance to read the work with fresh eyes. Read through the work from start to finish and make a note of any queries that arise as you read. You might find that some of these questions are answered towards the end of the work, and thus your approach to it might change. Do not be too hasty in making your first edits!

2. The first 'pass'[edit]

The first edit of a work is often called the first 'pass'. By this stage you have a good understanding of the work as a whole, and a sense of what needs to be done to make it readable and approachable for the target audience.

The first step is formatting. Strip out all extraneous and unnecessary formatting so that you can work with a file that is as clean as possible. Proceed with caution in this - make sure that in sterilising the manuscript you do not remove any emphases the author included. At this stage it's a good idea to apply some of the basic styles from the Snapshot template, but remember that this styling can be further refined at layout stage.

Once the manuscript is clean and approachable, ensure that Track Changes is turned on before you start making changes to wording and structure. This will help both you and the author follow the changes you've made.

Follow standard editing procedure - attend to voice (active voice is preferred for essays and reports, but passive voice may be a deliberate choice for a creative piece, for example), tense, grammatical agreement, factual accuracy and general flow of the writing. Fact-checking is part of the editing process, but you must be able to judge when it's appropriate to defer to the author's expertise and knowledge and ask them to clarify or explain something in more detail rather than re-write a whole section of text. Sometimes it's best to ask the author to double-check the factual accuracy of a statement. Also ensure continuity - especially in creative works. If something does not make sense to you, it's likely that it will not make sense to another reader, too. This is when you deploy author queries (see below).

With academic work, always double-check the reference list against the works referred to in the text. Is there anything referred to in the text that is not listed under references? Are there any references listed that are not actually referred to in the text? Are there inconsistencies in author spellings or publication dates that the author needs to clarify? You can choose to search for the resources in the library catalogue (or Google Scholar) and correct the references yourself, but the author should have an accurate record of the references they've used. Follow the La Trobe University Library referencing tool to follow Harvard referencing style.

Author queries[edit]

Use the comments feature of track changes to make comments or ask questions of the author. It's best to raise an author query to clarify something ambiguous than to second-guess what they intended. Ask "Did you mean ABC or XYZ?". Once you understand their intended meaning, you can clarify the expression of that meaning.

Also use the comments function to keep a commentary on the reasons behind any dramatic changes you've suggested (such as moving large chunks of text).

3. Communicating with the author[edit]

Try and limit communications with the author to specific stages of the editing process, rather than having a constant back-and-forth barrage every time you want them to clarify something.

Once you have your copyedited file with author queries in comments boxes, use the OJS to communicate with the author. Upload your copyedited file to the system and select the option to email the author to inform them the file is ready for them to review. In your cover email, explain briefly what you've done and note any global or major issues you need them to attend to. It's always nice to compliment the author on their work in some way - tell them that you enjoyed editing their piece, that you thought it was interesting or though-provoking or clearly expressed. Going through the editorial process can be confronting for many authors, particularly if they are attached to the work or if it draws on a personal experience. Always be respectful in your communication with them.

Give the author a clear deadline on when you expect them to respond to your copyedit and answer queries. Be prepared to be flexible, especially if it's during a peak assessment period in the semester. Always invite them to contact you immediately if they think they'll be unable to meet your deadline, so that you can adjust your planned timelines. Also be prepared to follow up on the deadline if they have missed it - send a polite reminder that their response is due and to let you know if they're having trouble finding the time to attend to it.

Give the author clear instructions to "accept" the changes that they agree with, and make alternate suggestions for anything they disagree with. They should also work with track changes turned on so that you can keep track of their changes. They should upload the revised file into OJS.

4. Author's response to the copyedit[edit]

First, check that the author has responded to all your queries. At this stage, changes made to changes can be difficult to keep track of - and it's usually at this point that new errors are introduced - so make use of the "view final" function in track changes. You should be able to accept all changes in document, and then check the whole document again for sense. Here, your job is to ensure that the flow has improved, and that the work still makes sense in light of changes made. Watch for introduced errors, or things that are now problematic as a result of the changes made in the first stage.

For academic work, check references at every stage of the editing process.

Useful online resources[edit]

Grammar guide

La Trobe University Library online referencing tool - Harvard method