Proofreading journal papers and academic documents effectively can be extremely challenging. It requires insight, sensitivity, precision, flexibility, intelligence, persistence, discernment, exceptional language skills, and an eye for detail. It also involves a willingness to read carefully, as well as critically. Many authors possess many of these skills and qualities for proofreading journal papers, yet, a large percentage of them will not. Rather, they will seek the services of a professional proofreader (What Does a Proofreader Do?).
If you are confident of your own skill, there is no reason why you should or can not proofread your own paper yourself. In fact, you will be able to alter the content and rewrite sentences without seeking permission, but you will also need to be extremely attentive to every detail because it is easy to miss ambiguities and errors when you already know what you intended to write.
If you are working on the documents produced or written by other authors, your job is not to rewrite it but to make corrections and alternations when necessary to allow the author’s writing to convey his or her writing effectively. Your focus should be on observing all the rules and conventions of grammars and removing obstacles such as incorrect spelling, grammar and punctuation that might prevent readers from understanding what the author is attempting to pass across. Although it can be difficult to determine if an author’s language usage is truly incorrect due to variations in writing styles among authors and disciplines. However, using constructive commentary can help draw the author’s attention to aspects of a manuscript that does not necessarily need correction, yet could be improved.
Almost all scientific and academic documents have discipline-specific styles and conventions that they must all adhere to. Most of them must meet precise and detailed requirements such as the instructions given to the author by scholarly journals or the university or department guidelines for doctoral theses. So, whether you are proofreading journal papers for your own or using an online proofreading service, the main focus of a proofreader should be to make sure that these guidelines are carefully applied with precision and consistency throughout the document.
Any advice on proofreading must include making sure that every piece of punctuation or instance of an italic font is exactly where it should be.
Minor changes should be left best in the hands of the author. However, a professional proofreader from an online proofreading service can provide constructive suggestions and comments that can encourage such revisions. The proofreader can make minor alternations. This can be done with a brief explanation of the reasoning behind the change (Also read where to find online proofreading services).
If you are proofreading or editing your own documents, make sure you go back and check through the instructions instead of trusting your initial arrangements. You must do so with particular care as you are acting as your own second set of eyes with requires a lot of focus.
When proofreading journal papers for other authors, as a professional, you must treat their work with the utmost respect, and you must be extremely committed to ensuring the author achieves his/her goal.
Clear communication about proofreading can help a client perceive the true value of your work. Therefore, be sure to offer suggestions and comments that explain and highlight what you are thinking and doing.