Editing a science paper

Unlike editing blogs, articles, novels, etc., editing a science paper is different and follows a formal style. Therefore, it becomes crucial that science papers are edited carefully without altering the meaning and style of the work.

Here are some tips that one can follow while editing a science paper.

1. Consistency is the key

When you edit a science paper, remember that consistency is a key for a success. There are many styles and formats one can follow, but it is important to stick to one particular style religiously and literally. Whatever style have been chosen, make sure the appropriate outlines and formatting structures are followed.

Some general guidelines to be followed are:

  • Consistency should be maintained with margin width: top, bottom and both sides.
  • Font size should be the same.
  • Text should always be aligned to the left margin.
  • Double space text, including references and bibliographies.
  • Active voice should be used mostly.
  • Running title (a short title no longer than 50 characters) at the top of each page should be used, aligned flush left.
  • Pages should be aligned and in order.
  • Each page should have page number appearing at the top of every page (either centered or at the right margin).

The order of pages should be as follows: See if the science paper is in the same order, and if it is not then being the editor it's your responsibility.

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Body
  • References
  • Appendices
  • Footnotes
  • Tables
  • Figures

2. See the Use of Language

Science does not provide room for playing with words, as it is not some poetry or novel where you have enough room to play around with words. When it is about science, it is essential that one follows proper rules and tone. Hence, proper use of technical terms and industry verbiage is important while editing a science paper.

You need to avoid mistakes that make the content look unprofessional. It is crucial that proper and careful spell check is done and correct words and terms are used.

Some common mistakes that people should avoid are:

  • Improper use of plurals and possessives.
  • Confusing effect and affect.
  • Playing around words when already there are many words that can be used.
  • Using improper vocabulary, thereby altering the entire meaning.
  • Use of slang in a science paper is big time NO-NO
  • Not using proper technical words and terms.
  • Use of contractions.
  • Using abbreviations. Abbreviations can only be used after they've been spelled out in the paper already.

3. See That the Paper is Not Bland

Undoubtedly, a science paper is often formal in nature, but that doesn't mean that it has to be boring or stuffed with words. When you edit a science paper, make sure that it's not boring. Well, to avoid boredom following editing principles can be used:

  • Avoid using lengthy sentences, instead frame them into clear and compact structures for effective communication.
  • Follow a structured writing style that is clear, crisp and easy to understand.
  • Make sure one idea per paragraph is explained. Trying to explain too many things in one paragraph will make the whole matter messy and unclear, which is not a good idea at all!
  • Expressive nouns and verbs should be used. Keeping in mind that matter is coming out to be more direct and vivid.

4. Check for Bibliographies, References and Citations

This is no-brainer! Whenever you get a chance to edit a science paper make sure you check for whether bibliographies, references and citations are included or not. And if they are not included, make sure you include them there. Inclusion of citations in a science paper is as important as the science paper content itself. Including these simply tells that a person has done enough research and has taken reference from various different sites, books etc. Also, including citations allows others to locate the source material that have been cited. A science paper should have a reference for every source mentioned so that reviewers can easily access all those support documentation.

5. Proofread the Science Paper

Proofreading a science paper is a MUST! No matter how efficiently you have edited a science paper, there is still a chance of misspelled words, grammatical errors, use of wrong terms, incorrect punctuation, etc. And you can only encounter all these issues when you proofread the paper. It is crucial that you don't overlook this important part of editing. And yes, do not simply depend on spellchecker, you have to take a bit of pain for it! I know it's a boring task, but it is one of the most important steps of editing.


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