D.J. McPhee
20 November 2023
Posted inTeam Management Post authorD.J. McPhee
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Three Ways to Handle English Editing

English editing methods can be one of the more challenging elements processing a manuscript. And all authors, native speakers or not, have different degrees of understanding of grammar and writing.

There can be cases where native speakers are not great writers, and cases where non-native speakers are excellent writers. But the issue for a journal is that it needs to maintain a set of standards when it comes to the level of English a paper uses. If there aren’t good standards, it can cause major issues for the reputation of the journal. Having high standards for English level can also result in a journal being known for producing clear papers.

Making sure that these standards are maintained can be achieved in a number of different ways. Determining which method is best for you and your journal can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s go over some of the different options available to you.

Using an English editor before submission

This method is by far the easiest way to deal with English editing. It is also the most challenging way to deal with as it requires very careful tracking and spot checking, and there is a very high risk of variation in quality.

Using an English editor before submission can help the review process to go more smoothly. If changes are needed though, the authors will need to once again hire an editor to revise the new parts, or there will be a difference in English quality throughout the publication process. If these differences remain and are not addressed before publication, there will be a significant and very noticeable difference in the quality of the manuscript.

Can the system work?

It is complicated, but there are ways in which this method can achieve positive results. First of all, it allows the review process to be easier to do as elements of the language barrier will not longer be issues. This method may require multiple rounds of edits to a single manuscript before the paper is ready to be published. If using this method, having access to a reliable editor that you can recommend for submitting authors.

Another choice you have is to develop a network of freelance English editors so that you can always have an editor available to you should you need one.

There are a handful of benefits and complications when it comes to using freelance English editors, which we will discuss below.

Using English editors prior to publication

Instead of using English editors prior to submission, you can move editing to the end of the publication process.

There are two kinds of editors that you can really use in this situation: freelancers and staff editors. Both have benefits, but both also have downsides.

Using freelance editors allows a very high degree of flexibility. The more editors you have in your pool, the more you have available to you at any given time. If you need something edited very quickly, you can usually find an editor to do this. There are two major issues with freelance editors, and both of these issues relate to costs.

Churn (or employee turnover) can be very high using freelance editors because they will always prioritize projects that pay them more money. If you do not keep industry standards in mind when you are paying your editors, you will find that they will not remain long term. The worst case scenario would be that freelancers use their time working for you as training to move on to better projects. This is not the editor’s fault, however. Employee retention is the employer’s responsibility, so make sure that you’re paying your editors appropriately.

The second issue with using freelancers is that it can be challenging, but not impossible, to institute the same level of standards across all editors. Freelancers may be talented, but not well trained in what you are expecting, while others have very little experience but are well trained. Using a team of freelancers can be very beneficial, but it can be very problematic if you are not careful.

How to manage a team of English editors

Ensuring that you have clear expectations of what the job entails, and a good understanding of what the editing market looks like are pivotal. Knowing what you can reasonably ask of your editors, and what they expect of you is key to a healthy working relationship.

Once you understand what expectations you have (and those of your editors), you can set up your system of communications. For a small team, email and an Excel spreadsheet might be enough to keep track of everything. For a larger team, having a journal management system that can assign work to your freelance team is extremely valuable. This sort of system can save your company thousands of dollars in manhours. It reduces time wasted due to assigning and tracking and makes these processes easy.

Having an in-house team of English editors

This is debatably the best, but also one of the most complicated, methods to handle your English editing. While using freelance editors can help you to cut costs, it is challenging to maintain high standards. There is also significant churn involved in using freelancers, so you will constantly need to train new freelancers as they join your team. This results in a significant amount of time being spent on the act of training, instead of on editing. On the other hand, when you have a team of in-house editors, there is less overall time spent on training. Standards can also be monitored and maintained more effectively.

There are also other major benefits to using in-house editors for your English editing. Here are some examples,

  • They can edit internal documents;
  • You can have access to English editing at the drop of a hat during business hours;
  • They can proofread any important external communications.

Can a freelancer accomplish the same activities? Yes, they can. However, because of the nature of freelance work, you might need to wait for projects that you could get done almost immediately.

One of the biggest weaknesses about having a team of English editors comes in the form of costs. You need to pay them for a full day of work as opposed to a per-project rate. If you’re going to use in-house editors, make sure that you have other projects that you can give them. You don’t want to pay editors to sit around, and there are always more projects that can be done.

Using a journal management system to assign work to your English editors

English editors are a skilled group of individuals. They are methodical and the nature of the work is to pay attention to details. If you have a team of in-house editors, you can easily train them to use a journal management system like JAMS so that any time not spent editing can be applied to other projects. Sending manuscripts to peer review, handling layout, or even interacting with authors can be easily done using JAMS. If you want to learn more, let us help.

D.J. McPhee
20 November 2023
Posted inTeam Management
Post author D.J. McPhee
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