Core Components of Proofreading and Editing Academic Writing

Core Components of Proofreading and Editing Academic Writing

There are several components that proofreaders check when proofreading/editing any academic writing, whether it is a journal paper, conference proceeding, or Master/PhD thesis or dissertation. Proofreading comprises spelling/typos, grammatical errors and punctuation. This involves a basic check and is simple to do. Editing, on the other hand, is more complex, and requires changes to the sentence syntax/structure, coherency and flow of ideas, clarity and concise use of language, and academic wording and terminology. Editing requires carefully checking the document at a slower pace, and modifying each sentence at a time. This is time consuming and requires a skilled English editor who also has a background in the document he or she is editing.


Academic Proofreading Components


Involves checking the document for any spelling or typographical mistakes and adjusting them. It is highly recommended to use a spell checker, since it is more efficient at catching spelling mistakes that you would otherwise miss.


Grammatical errors

Involves checking the document for any grammatical errors and fixing them accordingly. Some common grammatical errors are singular-plural disagreement, squinting modifiers, overuse of adverbs, incorrect article usage, and more than enough prepositional phrases.



This involves checking the punctuation (commas, colons, apostrophes, etc.) of each sentence, and making sure the punctuation symbols are being applied properly. The most common punctuation errors involve inappropriate use of the comma. Typical errors include comma splices,


Academic Editing Components

Sentence structure 

Common examples are run-on sentences, sentence fragments, and subject verb agreement, using too much passive sentences, incorrect use of coordinating conjunctions. This involves modifying the sentence structure to ensure it is ‘sound’ and appropriate.


Coherency and flow of ideas

This involves reading each paragraph at a time, and ensuring the flow of ideas and discussion is coherent from one paragraph to the next. Too much repetition, redundancy, and abrupt shifts from one topic to another are common mistakes.


Clarity and concise use of language

Clarity refers to concise sentences that are short, to-the-point and easy to read. A reader does not want to guess what you mean when reading your work. The sentences should be very concise, so that the reader can take in the information and ideas easily.


Academic tone and terminology / formality / third person-style writing

When writing a paper, it is crucial to use academic terminology that sounds more ‘formal’ and academically sound. Instead of using basic words to express your ideas, it is recommended to keep a list of more appropriate ‘formal’ words to use that are common in academic writing. It is also recommended that you use standardized key terms that are common in your background area, as this will keep readers in the same background more interested, as opposed to using basic common informal terms. Finally, it is always preferred to use the third person  in academic writing. Try to limit the use of the first person as much as possible. Some journals even prohibit the use of the first person. The reason for this is because the third person is more objective, and it is important to maintain objectivity in academic writing, while staying away from personal opinions and subjectivity.



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