Have you ever encountered the age-old joke that goes:
Let’s eat Grandpa.
Let’s eat, Grandpa.
Commas Save Lives.
The joke may be simple, but it emphasises how a seemingly insignificant bit of punctuation can change the entire meaning of a sentence. The same goes for grammar and spelling; even minor typos or grammatical errors can result in disastrous inaccuracies and inconsistencies.
Punctuation, grammar, and spelling play an even more crucial role in research papers, given the latter’s impactful and life-changing content. Imagine what would happen if an article about groundbreaking cancer research contained grammatical mistakes that rendered it indecipherable for readers?
Not only will it undermine the researcher’s credibility, but it can also negatively affect influential organisations and high-profile individuals, both of whom often use these kinds of content to inform the decisions they make.
To ensure that their papers are error-free and the best that they can be, researchers must go through a process called “academic proofreading.” If you’re unsure what that involves, this article takes you through everything you need to know about academic proofreading services and how they help you prepare your paper for publication.
What is Academic Proofreading?
Academic proofreading refers to the practice of reading through an entire research paper to identify and correct typographical, grammatical, and spelling mistakes. This is the last step that academics take before sending the final version of their work to their professors, direct supervisors, or publishers.
While academic proofreading is a crucial part of the research process, it is often confused with revising and academic paper editing. However, these three processes involve different tasks. If you’re confused about the distinctions between these terms, then here is a brief overview of each:
|Analyses the entirety of the research paper, from its overall structure to the grammar, verb tenses, spelling, and punctuations used. This comes after completing revisions and edits.||Analyses the overall organisation of the research paper to ensure that it is structured logically, addresses its primary goals, and provides support for all claims made.||Analyses each sentence in the research paper to improve its style and coherence. This process also eliminates any awkward or vague phrasing.|
In the simplest of terms, academic proofreading services focus on resolving spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, as well as inconsistencies in the format of the content.
Before submitting their work, researchers will often use academic copy editing services as well, to tweak or enhance their paper’s syntax and diction. After a paper has been proofread and the copy has been edited, researchers can be more confident their work communicates their ideas fluidly and accurately.
That being said, this is not the only reason why researchers should have their papers proofread before sending them for evaluation and publishing.
Why Should I Have My Research Paper Proofread?
Researchers who neglect to have their paper academically proofread run the risk of submitting their work while it still contains spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. If you’re lucky, these oversights are minimal and won’t ruin the original intent and meaning of the text. If you’re not careful, though, such mistakes could completely change the idea that you’re trying to communicate to your audience.
In addition, academics often view research papers as extensions of the researcher or the institution they work for. For instance, many associate Dr. Anthony Fauci not only with his work as a member of the White House COVID-19 task force, but also with a 2008 research paper that he co-authored through The Journal of Infectious Diseases. That journal, in particular, has been around since 1904, and so when readers see his paper, they associate the quality and reputation of the journal with Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well.
Since reputation is important in academia, a research paper riddled with typos, as well as grammatical and punctuation mistakes, can reflect poorly on the researcher and the institution or publication it’s connected to. It could compromise their status among peers and even spoil any other contributions that they make now and in the future.
When taken all together, academic proofreading assures the researcher that their writing is impeccable for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. This, in turn, means that their readers easily understand the ideas and implications presented in their final work.
How to Proofread Your Research Paper
Now that we have discussed the importance of academic proofreading, we can go over several tips and tricks to help keep your paper free from errors, inconsistencies, and poor structuring.
Take a breather
Once you have finished writing your research paper, set it aside for a few hours, or even several days, before starting the academic proofreading process. It’s important to distance yourself from your work like this, because it allows you to approach it with a clearer and fresher perspective.
Keep in mind that a research paper may not seem as good as it previously did when you review it after some time has passed—even the best writing goes through many rounds of editing before being published.
Besides enabling you to spot surface errors faster, putting your work aside and coming back to it also helps you identify mistakes in sentence flow and overall organisation. A fresh pair of eyes goes a long way in catching errors.
Read your paper aloud and slowly
Reading the text aloud is one of the most effective ways to spot spelling and grammatical mistakes. While time-consuming and labour-intensive, this practice does a fantastic job of helping you identify errors that you might have overlooked when you read the research paper silently.
Additionally, this strategy is also useful when you are trying to determine whether specific sentences sound awkward or clunky. This practice also helps you pinpoint parts of your paper that have inconsistencies or need better transitions.
Have someone read your paper to you
While effective, reading your paper aloud and slowly is not a foolproof way to catch all the different mistakes in it. If you are being meticulous and want to double-check the flawlessness of your research paper, then opt to have another person read it back to you.
This allows you to listen and concentrate on the words and syntax used, rather than focusing on sounding them out. You’ll also be a more critical listener, which will enable you to spot mistakes easier.
If you feel uncomfortable asking someone to read your research paper aloud, then you can opt to use text-to-audio tools. For example, Microsoft Office 2019 and MS 365 comes with a Read Aloud function. Alternatively, you can use Google Translate’s sound feature or Apple’s voice assistant, Siri, to read the contents of your work to you.
Print a hard copy of your paper
Many proofreaders claim to find it easier to do their academic paper editing in a physical, paper format, as it allows them to circle and underline errors, as well as to strike out any unnecessary words or phrases. To add to that, staring at a screen for too long often renders you so accustomed to the text that you no longer see the mistakes that it contains—no matter how glaring they are.
Checking for mistakes with a hard copy of your research paper is also easier, because you can edit it with commonly used proofreading marks and symbols. Inserting and reviewing these is also simpler to do physically instead of digitally.
Ask someone else to proofread your paper
The academic proofreading process does not stop once you have finished reading through and addressing all the errors or inconsistencies in your research paper. It is also essential to have someone else scan the text. This is because another person offers a perspective not attached to your study’s contents. So they can identify mistakes that you may have overlooked or considered correct.
When asking someone else to proofread your paper, you can start with a trusted colleague or even your direct supervisor. You can also choose to use professional academic proofreading services or a reputable platform that delivers high-quality and accurate edits.
But as a researcher with limited budget, you are probably concerned about the costs of having your paper proofread by a professional. In the next section, we will take a look at how much you can expect to pay for academic proofreading services and the different factors that can affect a proofreader’s rates.
How Much Does it Cost to Have my Paper Proofread?
The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, a professional organisation based in the United Kingdom, regularly publishes suggested minimum hourly rates for those in the field. As of March 2021, their recommended prices were the following:
|Services Rendered||Recommended Minimum Hourly Rate|
|In-depth Editing, Rewriting, and Development Editing||£34.40|
Of course, these prices are far from set in stone. Proofreaders often have a basic rate based on their years of experience and skill level. Unsurprisingly, those with certifications, licenses, or professional experience in the field will have significantly higher rates than those without.
Of course, these are not the only factors that affect the cost of academic paper editing. For instance, the length of the text and its content can cause a proofreader to adjust the price of their services. Some charge a premium for working on papers about complex or technical topics, as these may require them to do independent research before resolving mistakes.
Some also base their rates on the type of client they have. For example, individual researchers may receive a lower price than organisations or corporate clients.
Academic paper editing does not have a set price tag. Besides experience in the field, the content of the researcher’s paper, and the researcher’s unique needs, the cost of academic proofreading services can also depend on the platform which a particular proofreader works on.
Needless to say, the rates offered by those affiliated with an academic paper editing company can significantly differ from the rates provided by proofreaders working on freelancing platforms, like Upwork and Fiverr.
Where Can I Find Academic Proofreading Services?
Freelancing platforms can be a cost-effective option for researchers on a tight budget, since they often have proofreaders with incredibly flexible rates. However, it’s difficult to gauge the reputability of their academic copyediting services, since websites like Upwork and Fiverr do not have an independent quality control system that checks the deliverables of their independent contractors.
Knowing all this, researchers who have a bigger budget and want high-quality academic proofreading services should instead opt for reputable companies that will match them with certified proofreaders. Most of these platforms not only verify the credibility of the professionals they employ, they also ensure that all works go through a strict quality control process. That means you can be positive of their accuracy and correctness.
In addition to these options, you can also try online proofreading tools. However, these online tools mainly target surface-level mistakes, which is why academics still typically need to hire a real person to double-check the flow and structure of their research paper.
Flowcite and its Academic Proofreading Services Partners
As we previously mentioned, many online or machine-based academic proofreading services focus on surface-level errors only and cannot address concerns regarding the content’s structure and logical flow.
However, when you work with an integrated academic research tool, like Flowcite, you don’t need to worry about an AI not catching a mistake in your paper. Our platform features integrated academic proofreading services, academic copy editing services, a similarity checker, and more. Because of this, it’s the perfect all-in-one solution for academic research, writing, referencing, and publishing.
Flowcite has a ton of helpful features. Besides anti-plagiarism tools, its end-to-end academic writing services also provide students and researchers with the following:
- A reference management tool that allows you to easily save relevant sources, which are then automatically inserted into your paper with the proper citations.
- Commenting, sharing, and editing tools that allow for real-time collaboration among colleagues.
- An AI-driven article summariser that enables you to evaluate relevant sources in minutes, no matter the length of the article.
- Integrated proofreading, peer review, and publishing services to ensure that research papers are in full compliance with the field’s standard publication rules.
Besides all of this, Flowcite also provides researchers and students with high-quality academic proofreading services and academic paper editing. Powered by the industry’s leading companies, such as Scribendi and iThenticate, Flowcite has tools that ensure you’re producing top-notch research writing in your field.
With these incredible tools, Flowcite saves you from the tedious administrative tasks of the research process and allows you to focus on communicating your ideas instead.
Sign up for Flowcite today to get started on a seamless, stress-free research and writing process!
Content Marketing Strategist
Brittany is a Content Marketing Strategist at Flowcite, and an outstanding academic writing expert. She holds a first-class Honours degree in Literae Humaniores from the University of Oxford and has been certified in Digital Marketing Analytics by the MIT Sloan School of Management.