Choosing an Editor
Each editing job is different. We recommend that you discuss your project with three or four potential editors to see whose experience, skills, and availability best match your needs. Keep in mind that interest in or familiarity with an academic subject area is not the same as editorial expertise.
In interviewing editors, it’s important to be as clear as possible about the nature and scope of the work and your proposed collaboration. Here are some points to consider when selecting an editor.
1. What editorial skills or knowledge of your subject area do you want from an editor?
- Do you prefer to work with an editor who specializes in a particular type of editing (described on the Editorial Services page)?
- Do you want to work with someone with substantial knowledge in your subject area, who can easily engage with your work and offer perspective on your content?
Many authors prefer a combination of these attributes.
2. What’s the current stage of your project?
- If you are in the early stages of your project: Are you struggling with the project’s overall structure or direction? Are you trying to overcome writer’s block or other obstacles? You may need a developmental editor or writing coach.
- If your draft is ready for editing: Does your manuscript need a detailed evaluation or an in-depth edit that focuses on content and clarity? Or are you looking for someone to correct your grammar and polish your writing style? You may need a manuscript evaluator, substantive editor, or copy editor.
- If your manuscript is already copyedited: You may need a proofreader, an indexer, or someone to help you with your submissions to publishers and journals.
3. What’s your time frame and the scope of your work?
- Does this project require a quick turnaround?
- Will your project require several intensive rounds of work?
- Is this job part of a larger project with parts that will require editing in the future?
Make sure your editor can meet your deadlines and will be available for the longer term, if necessary.
4. How do you want to collaborate with your editor?
- Do you want to communicate via email, telephone, and/or Skype?
- Would you benefit from one or more meetings in person?
5. What financial arrangements do you want to make with your editor?
- What is your (realistic) budget?
- Given that projects, for a variety of reasons, sometimes take longer than originally estimated by the author or editor, how would you like to deal with this possibility ahead of time with your editor?
- What type of agreement about the fee and timing of payments would you like to make with your editor? Would you or your organization want a formal contract, or are you comfortable with an informal email agreement?
Please note that all editors on the CAEN website are freelance editors who set their own rates. See Fees and Agreements for more information.
Some Ethical Considerations
Are we doing your work for you? When we add an occasional transitional sentence or sharpen an argument, are we doing your work for you? Is it ethical for an editor to draft part of a new paragraph, suggest a new way to look at an issue, or add a citation?
We believe this depends on the purpose of the writing and the policies of the writer's institution.
What we do and don’t do. As academic editors, we polish an author’s writing, but we do not ghostwrite. Depending on the type of editing, we might
- point out organizational problems,
- highlight concepts that need clarification,
- note logical and stylistic inconsistencies,
- smooth and tighten awkward, wordy, or jargon-filled sentences,
- correct errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage, and formatting,
- check citations and quotations, or
- add or correct an index.
All authors are responsible for complying with the relevant intellectual property laws and other laws governing their work. We especially encourage students and professors to comply with their departmental guidelines for working with editors, notify professors or department heads about consultations with editors, and receive advance clearance if required or recommended. Some academic departments allow and even encourage students and professors to seek editorial help; others explicitly ban the use of editors.
We also ask that authors act in good faith when contacting CAEN editors. We recommend that writers contact three or four editors to inquire about services, availability, and fees and perhaps ask for a short sample edit (remember that some editors charge for doing sample edits). However, it is not acceptable to email dozens of editors. If you are contacting more than one potential editor for your project, we urge you to make that clear in your inquiry.
A further discussion of fair practices and ethics appears here.
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