Editing services of academic capstones

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ALONG with the emphasis on research in our HEI’s is the rising need for editing services of academic capstones – dissertations/theses and research/project papers. Since our world is an imperfect world (sorry for people who help make it so!) our degree candidates at times are trapped into paying what they and other academic constituents feel as unreasonable editing cost. Considering the lack of professionally trained editors, perhaps universities could train academics in accepted editing practices and hopefully arrive at a standardized cost of the different levels of editing services. As the reader will later note, capstone advising could take over some aspects of editing like substantive edit, since edits overlap to some degree.

Web sources on editing describe various editing services which boil down to three levels. One source, refers more to editing a creative piece such as a book and describes this as “big picture” edit or “developmental, structural or substantive edit.”

<http://www.thebookdesigner.com 2014/04/4-levels-of-editing-explained-which-service-does-your-book-need/>. Although our source refers to the structure of a book, where the editor may have to move large “chunks of text around” or cut “some sections as well,” this level of editing could overlap with paragraph edit which also is applicable to editing academic capstones.

Let’s illustrate developmental, structural or substantive editing as an example of paragraph edit in Chapter 2 – Review of Related Literature of an imaginary dissertation/thesis. The standard practice to the introductory paragraph/s of Chapter 2 is a synthesis/brief overview the major concepts/highlights that the research writer came across in the Review. However, the tendency of degree candidates is simply to write a one or two-sentence introduction such as: “This Chapter reviews literature and studies related to this research. It notes/reports foreign and local studies, books, journals and also articles from the web” — an introduction that begs for substance! The Review proceeds and begins each sentence with the author/s name. To illustrate, we would find something like this — “Mager (2010) said, . ..” followed by another sentence “Kaye (1999) wrote that . . ..” Continuing this enumeration mentioning a third author, the fourth sentence says “Thorton (2012) noted that . . ..” and “Macy and Allen contributed another research that concluded that . . .” and so on. The non-use of proper transition words/phrases between the quotes/reporting of research findings drawn from the related literature makes the paragraph lack structure and therefore, falls short of a meaningful presentation. This reports a simple list or enumeration of related literature, not a Review as Chapter 2 indicates. To lend logic, (hence, meaning), transition words could be used, such as: likewise/similarly (if the two successive findings share similar ideas); furthermore (if the succeeding findings add a dimension to the earlier one); or however/contrary to Mager’s (2010) findings (if the next findings bear some disagreements). Without these transition words/phrases, the series of sentences with each began with an author’s name would sound much like reciting a litany of the saints! Referred also as stylistic/line editing, it involves recasting sentences for clarity and flow.


Structural/development/substantive edit could overlap with what one source refers to as paragraph edit. To illustrate, let’s read the succeeding paragraphs of Chapter 2 of the same imaginary thesis or dissertation. Let’s suppose the immediate paragraph after the introduction is Para-1 and which describes the correlation findings in a set of variables. Proceeding to read, we note that the succeeding paragraphs (para-2, 3 and 4), seemingly carries the writer away, and begins describing correlations in the context of an altogether different set of variables. At para-5, we find the writer goes back to variables discussed in para-1. We find he continues in para -5 the ideas he left hanging in para -1. Aha! The writer seems to suddenly remember variables he was describing in para 01. We wonder why his flow of thought stopped after para-1. Anyway, we are supposed to edit, not mind read. So, we move para-5 to be para-2 instead. This edit calls for large chunks of the text (para -5) to be moved around or cut down.

Another edit is copy editing/sentence-level edit. More detailed than substantive editing, it “focuses on appropriate use of language”…“grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, syntax” (language structure such as structural parallelism). It further checks for “consistency of mechanics and internal consistency of facts” . . . “accuracy of dates, quotations and hypertext links indicating the hierarchy of headings and subheadings” and is limited to rewording sentences “to ensure that the meaning is clear.” http://iped-editors.org/About_editing/ Levels_ of_editing.aspx .

Lastly, is proofreading/word level edit. This involves “checking formatted, edited material for accuracy of inputting, adherence to a specified design, and mechanical errors in text (spelling mistakes)” or “small deviations from the (editorial) style sheet,” following the style protocol set by the candidate’s Graduate School.

Regarding capstone acknowledgements, I haven’t come across any capstone acknowledging edit services nor is such acknowledgement required in academic writing protocols. Maybe because academics/research advisers may not have membership in professional editors associations. The Australian-based Institute of Professional Editors informs that any professional editing should be acknowledged in the preface of the capstone, as “____ (editor’s name) provided copyediting and proofreading services according to University-accepted practice.” http://iped-editors.org/About editing/Editing _theses.aspx (30)

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature. She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Britain and Japan. She is now the Vice-President for External Relations and Internationalization of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro) after serving as its VP for Academic Affairs for six and a half years concurrent to her ten years as dean in the Graduate Studies of the same university. She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the Commission on Higher Education.

Email: ttumapon@gmail.com

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