The Doctoral Student, the Advisor, the Advisory Committee, & the Academic Editor – Part 4


Editors often feel as if in a battle: deep in the trenches, straight in the firing line. And truth be told, editors like to be in the backrooms, quietly working away.

Why the battlefield? Well, doctoral students and advisors often expect miracles from academic editors. Good editors are extremely reliable, but they are only one cog in a very complex wheel and have no say over what a school requires.

I’ve borrowed some thoughts from a university to their students. The sections in [] are my additions. This combination can vary from university to university, but the point still is that there are many official people involved.

Levels of Help:

“During the dissertation review, you will benefit from perspectives and recommendations from 8 levels of review:

1. 3 committee members[: an advisor and 2 committee members]
2. 1 academic reviewer
3. 2 IRB reviewers [the AR and IRB combination varies from school to school]
4. the APA editor [often a statistician can also be included here]
5. the Dean’s review

The purpose of these reviews is not punitive, but is intended to increase your scholarly writing abilities and to ensure that the”dissertations produced by students … are scholarly in form and style.”

Out of the 8 people supposedly involved with an edit, 7 are from the university. That means only the academic editor isn’t. Each one has a clearly defined role within your studies. And the definition of what an editor must do is very clear in the use of the above example of an APA editor: language, punctuation, academic style, school’s style (if provided), and APA formatting. Essentially this is what I call a copy editor academic edit. The term “copy” is terminology from the publishing world and means your paper.

Learning where to find the right help

The trick is to know what each person should be providing. Students seldom get all the help that the university should be providing, but you should know where to look for the help. That way you can avoid the disappointment of looking for help in the wrong place, from the wrong person. Do not expect your academic editor to be a miracle worker. Be decisive and choose what you wish to include in your paper when you get conflicting advice from the various levels of help And do not allow faculty to shift their responsibility onto the editor.

How can you be confident about finding your way through differing opinions about what you should do? Equip yourself to understand what each person can offer you. Learn to do some basic self-editing to bring all the ideas into focus. Need help understanding how to self-edit. Download your own handy copy of the Language Online 21 Proofreading Tips to help guide you through trying times. Be sure to print the guide and have it on hand. And when you have competently completed your share, hand over to a good academic editor for some editing TLC.

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