Peer editing is a technique used in manuscript and scientific writing. People engaged in peer editing draft their manuscripts and provide each other with valuable suggestions for improvement.
The technique can be used at any point in the writing process – formulation of ideas, constructing an outline, draft revision, or copy editing of the final draft.
How does the Peer Editing Process Work?
The instructors of peer editing ask all authors to bring in their copies of a draft, distribute them for marking up, and have editors sign and return them to the author right away.
However, papers have the risk of getting lost sometimes, especially the rough drafts which are full of errors variously caught by the peers. In such a case, web-based collaborative writing tools work better for some peer editing situations. For example, discussion boards can be used to manage document editing over a semester. A discussion board allows editors to download, evaluate, and then repost the paper with their comments. The edited paper is then ‘handed back’ to its author, and is also available to the whole class.
Pros and Cons of Peer Editing
Peer editing has many benefits in scientific manuscript editing :
- You gain confidence in your work by having others working in your niche read it and provide comments prior to the journal.
- Editing by peers can help you identify problems in your own writing. Plus, other authors get a firsthand experience as to how it feels and what it takes to assess writing critically, rather than just relying on the journal’s editing process to find all the mistakes.
- When you know that your manuscript will be read by your peers, it gives you a chance to write for a broader audience than just the journal. This encourages better planning about providing context for the topic at hand.
- Manuscript written with peers in mind stands a better chance of being livelier and more engaging than papers written solely for an authority figure.
- Peer editing teaches each author to act as a teacher reviewing other’s work and forces them to act expertly.
However, peer editing has some pitfalls too:
- Peers when asked to review other’s work often focus more on grammatical improvements and other trivial errors rather than on other aspects of the writing process.
- Peers are often too polite to offer constructive criticism to each other. On the other hand, some peers may occasionally go into an “attack dog” mode” and provide comments out of frustration or jealousy. Thus, a balanced approach to productive criticism should be defined at the outset of a peer editing exercise.
- As said earlier, an online peer editing environment provides documents which are visible to the whole class (rather than just the author and the editor). This may spur an overly humble or aggressive tone.
- Peers may sometimes identify with the ideas the author is posing rather than comment on the clarity of the argument.
- Occasionally a peer may suggest a correction which when followed actually weakens the quality of the paper.
Tips for Peer Editing Exercises
- Create a separate schedule or consider blocking off time for in-class peer editing. This is often required to bring seriousness and concentration to the activity. It also allows you to put good habits in place and manage all the tasks of scientific manuscript writing well.
- Provide your peers with a model of editing, or a set of codes to use in the process. This allows them to steer attention away from the trivial matters and focus on more significant and critical engagement with your paper.
- Retain your peer-edited draft and turn it in along with the final draft. This way you can appraise the skill of your peers with which they assessed your document and see which changes you incorporated and which not.
- Always have a healthy approach to the suggestions made by the peer editors. Don’t be too defensive nor blindly accept them. This is important to establish from the outset.
- Additionally, ask your peers to submit short “editorial notes” addendum to your final draft. This document must incorporate high points from the peer editing process and critique the feedback that they received.
- If you have several papers to be published and opt for peer editing sessions for each, make sure that you submit different documents to different editors each time.
Peer editing can be a boon to your scientific editing process provided your peers know the set of codes or the protocol you follow for the process. Otherwise, it can be a sheer waste of time and can also spoil the hard work you put in writing your manuscript. If you are looking, professional scientific editor reaches us at Cognibrain scientific editing services company.