Getting rid of redundancy in academic writing

Oftentimes, I come across redundant prose which can be de-cluttered if authors strive for economy of writing. That is, every word must be essential in your writing.

After writing, I recommend reviewing your work to trim unnecessary words and phrases. In research papers, I have often come across hedge phrases such as “it is reported that”, “due to the fact that”, “it worth noting that”, “it is known that”. Get rid of these hedge phrases to brighten up your writing. Just state the fact.

Consider this example:

Avoid: “It is reported that COVID-19 killed millions of people worldwide (Zhang, 2020; Truce et al., 2021).”

Better: “COVID-19 killed millions of people worldwide (Zhang, 2020; Truce et al., 2021).”

It is clear that you are citing the extant literature, so cue phrases are unnecessary.

Target journal publications often advocate for concise research articles. You can achieve that by trimming unnecessary words and phrases in your writing. Examples of lengthy phrases are as follows:

At this point in time (now)

A large proportion of (many)

Sufficient enough (sufficient)

Basic fundamentals (basic)

Paramount importance (important or paramount)

Take into consideration (consider)

Eliminate altogether (eliminate)

Practise economy of writing by trimming unnecessary words and phrases. You can always contact an editor if you need help. We are here for you.

How can I improve my writing?

Many inspiring writers are put on hold by the fear of writing, thinking that others would criticize them or their writing isn’t good enough. As a result, they take time to put the pen on that paper or others never actually bring their ideas to life. How sad!

The fact is that, writing should not be formulaic. It all boils down to your own voice. How do you intend to express your ideas that your prospective readers would associate with you? So, grab that pen and start writing your ideas down.

How should I start?

There is no formula to help you get started. Good writing is all about getting ideas across in a clear and effective manner. Do not worry about sounding elegant and stylish at first attempt. Many writers are put on hold by the idea of sounding elegant and stylish. The truth is, sounding elegant and stylish takes time and needs a good editor, sometimes multiple editors to polish your work.

Perhaps you want to write a novel and you hesitate because you can’t seem to perfect the characters, point of view, dialogue, etc. As long as you have the idea, that’s what matters! Find yourself a good developmental or structural editor to help you with your project. The developmental editor should be your first go-to helper.

What if I want help with an essay?

Well, essays are bound by ethics and if it is an essay for your school or competition, etc, it will be unethical to find someone to write for you. Get that draft and showcase your skills, expertise, etc, and then get a copy editor to iron out your grammar. Basically, structural editors and stylistic editors are not suitable for academic essays because these professional often edit your work extensively to a point of rewriting problematic sections. Will you be happy with your grades knowing that you have not fully showcased your expertise?

Structural and stylistic editors are ‘advanced editors’ who can take a seemingly complex writing riddled with flow, logic, clarity, and structural issues to make it shine. Self-published authors, in particular, can benefit tremendously from these editors. ESL authors (authors to whom English is a second language) can also benefit significantly from these editors to fix their journal articles, short stories novels, etc.

How can you improve your writing?

It takes time to perfect your writing and find your own voice. However, reading books by other exceptional authors can help you substantially. Visit that library to read some nonfiction or fiction manuscripts to get a glimpse of how other writers construct their ideas, arguments, etc. Read blogs, magazines, newspapers, or any medium to familiarize yourself with their writing styles, conventions, etc. It takes time but with great efforts you can achieve that quickly.

Also, take some online courses in grammar, writing, etc. Some of these courses are free! A good editor can also help you become a better writer.

Preparing your manuscript for the editor

You’ve written your manuscript and you can’t wait to get it published. I can relate to the feeling. However, nothing is more morale-killing than a book riddled with grammatical errors because it will repel readers and taint your reputation as an aspiring author. Hence, you need the second pair of eyes: the best editor.

Is the editor necessary? You ask!

Many authors are not well-informed about the editorial interventions that we, editors, do on their manuscripts. For this reason, they seldom value or negate the need for editors.

Editors are important! But… do authors with a great command of grammar really need editors? You don’t think so, right? Well, I’m of a different view… First, we have different editing levels: structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, line editing, etc… Check our services page to grasp different levels of editing.

How do you then know which editing levels are appropriate for your manuscript?

Without a solid grasp of what each level entails it’s hard to choose. But all not lost, ok! Perhaps one of the most assurances that you’re dealing with a legit editor is how they quote you. Ideally, an editor will want to see your sample to gauge the complexity of your writing. The editor will help you select the best manuscript editing service, whether for fiction or nonfiction.

Hold on…one might say I don’t want my writing style changed… Yes, you’re right. We also tread carefully with caution not to alter your voice, let alone your meaning!

Structural or developmental editing, in particular, is intensive and so the editor might have to do lots of rewriting in your manuscript depending on how complex you writing is. The best caution the editor can take is the consultation with you the author. The editor has to recommend the changes. If you do not agree with any then you can flag that.

What happens if the editor has done a crappy job after you’ve paid them handsomely?

First, is your editor affiliated with any organization? It is important to check if the editor is a member any of the professional organizations. This gives the assurance of adherence to ethical standards held by the organizations. You can also lodge a complaint and other professionals can look into that and find the best possible solution.

Uhm… I’ll say a lot later. For now, grab that pen and jot down the outline of your manuscript. hang on, if you have written some documents already, don’t hesitate to send us that email to get affordable editorial services. For your scientific editing service needs, we are here… 24/7!!!

Copyediting and Stylistic Editing Services

BK Editorial provides copy editing services for a variety of documents to improve grammar, punctuation, readability, clarity, consistency, and flow in line with copyediting standards defined by Editors Canada. They are highlighted below:

Standards for Copy Editing
Copy editing is editing to ensure correctness, consistency, accuracy, and completeness.
CORRECTNESS
1. Address the rules of grammar in written English and correct errors (e.g., lack
of subject-verb agreement, misplaced modifiers, incorrect pronoun case).
2. Address the principles of punctuation and correct errors (e.g., comma splices,
misplaced colons, incorrect apostrophes).
3. Correct errors in spelling (e.g., typographical errors, errors arising from
homonyms and similar-sounding words).
4. Correct errors in usage (e.g., words commonly confused, such as imply/infer;
incorrect idioms and phrases, such as centres around).

CONSISTENCY
1. Identify and consistently apply categories of editorial style (e.g., abbreviations,
measurements, treatment of numbers, Canadian/British/American spelling).
2. Understand the different editorial styles for citing sources (e.g., APA, Chicago)
and consistently apply a style appropriate to the material.
3. Identify and either correct or query inconsistencies in logic, factual details, and
cross-references.
4. Ensure that all tables, photos, multimedia, and other visual elements are consistent
with surrounding text and are consistently presented (e.g., headings, captions,
numbering).
5. Understand the issues related to using other languages, especially French, in an
English context (e.g., capitalization, italicization, accented characters) and edit for
consistency.

ACCURACY AND COMPLETENESS
1. Identify and either correct or query items that should be checked for accuracy
(e.g., names of people and places, titles, quotations, web links).
Professional Editorial Standards 11 Revised 2009
2. Identify and either correct or query errors in material containing statistics,
mathematics, and numerals (e.g., incorrect imperial/metric conversions, incorrect
totals in tables).
3. Ensure that material is complete and, as appropriate, query or supply missing
elements (e.g., captions and headings, web links, phone numbers, addresses).
4. Recognize and flag places where citations are needed (e.g., quotations without a
source, unsupported generalizations in academic work, tables that require a data
source).
5. Recognize elements that require copyright acknowledgement and permission to
reproduce (e.g., quotations, multimedia, photos). If necessary, prepare
acknowledgements and obtain permissions or bring the matter to the attention of
the appropriate person.

Standards for Stylistic Editing (also called Deep Copyediting)
Stylistic editing is editing to clarify meaning, improve flow, and smooth language. This editorial stage often applies to documents that need extensive editing.

CLARITY
1. Improve sentence construction to more effectively convey meaning (e.g., by using
subordinate structures for subordinate ideas, choosing active voice over passive in
most contexts, replacing negative constructions with affirmative ones, making
unparallel constructions parallel).
2. Improve word choice to more effectively convey meaning (e.g., by replacing the
general and abstract with the specific and concrete, replacing noun strings,
eliminating clichés and euphemisms).
3. Where necessary, rewrite sentences, paragraphs, and passages to resolve
ambiguities, ensure logical connections, and clarify the author’s meaning or
intention, in harmony with the style of the material.
4. In improving a sentence, paragraph, or passage or making it intelligible, change as
little as possible and attempt to preserve the author’s voice where appropriate.
5. Ensure that all tables, photos, multimedia, and other visual elements are clear and
effectively convey the intended meaning.

FLOW
1. Ensure that transitions between sentences and between paragraphs are smooth and
support the coherent development of the text as a whole.
2. Where necessary, reorder sentences within a paragraph to ensure that the
paragraph has a clear and coherent focus.
3. Adjust the length and structure of paragraphs to ensure variety or consistency, as
appropriate to the audience and medium.
4. Adjust the length and structure of sentences to ensure variety or consistency, as
appropriate to the audience and medium.


LANGUAGE
1. Determine the language and reading level appropriate for the intended audience
and medium, and edit to establish or maintain that language and level (e.g., by
translating jargon into understandable terms, using vocabulary that is suitable to
the material, dividing long or complicated sentences into simpler ones).
2. Establish or maintain a consistent tone, style, and authorial voice or level of
formality appropriate for the intended audience and medium.
3. Eliminate wordiness (e.g., by deleting redundancies, empty phrases, unnecessary
modifiers).


We also provide formatting of documents and references. When requesting services, please the sample of your writing to help you choose the appropriate service commensurate with the complexity of your writing. Also include your target journal guidelines or a working URL to the journal site.

Substantive/Structural Editing Services

Do you want assistance to restructure your journal article according to IMRaD format or a customized format of your target publication? Do you need help with your fiction document? This service is suitable for you. Note that due to ethical reasons, this service cannot be offered to academic documents designed to assess students. These include dissertations, theses, research proposals, assignments, and essays.

This service tier is also in line with structural editing standards set by Editors Canada.

Standards for Structural Editing
Structural editing is assessing and shaping material to improve its organization and
content.

ASSESSMENT
1. Assess the overall organization and content of the material to determine its
suitability for the intended audience, medium, market, and purpose.

ORGANIZATION
1. Reorganize material to achieve a coherent structure and sequence, a logical
progression of ideas, and a narrative or expository flow and shape appropriate to
the audience, medium, and purpose, keeping in mind that the medium often
determines organization (e.g., the inverted pyramid structure of a newspaper
story, the chapter arrangement of a book, the linked structure of a website). If
necessary, create and follow a new outline or site map.
2. Determine and either indicate or implement the most effective positioning of all
visual elements.
3. Revise, cut, or expand material, or suggest such changes, to meet length
requirements.

CONTENT
4. Identify and either recommend or make appropriate deletions (e.g., to remove
repetitive or otherwise superfluous material) and additions (e.g., to fill gaps in
content or strengthen transitions between sections) in both text and visual
elements.
5. Recognize and either query or resolve instances of questionable accuracy,
inadequate research, and imbalance in content.
6. Recognize and recast material that would be better presented in another form (e.g.,
number-laden text as a table, descriptive material as a diagram, a long series of
points as a list, a lengthy digression as an appendix).
7. Select, create, or secure appropriate visual elements (e.g., images, sidebars,
headings, video clips), if necessary, in keeping with the requirements and
constraints of the publication (e.g., budget, schedule, format, medium). Determine
the appropriate content and length of captions.
Professional Editorial Standards 7 Revised 2009
8. Identify, create, or secure appropriate supplementary and referencing material
(e.g., glossaries, endnotes, web menu items, hyperlinks).
9. If required, create or secure accurate and complete peripheral material (e.g.,
masthead information in magazines, prelims and back matter in books,
navigational and help content for electronic publications).
10. Determine whether any permissions are necessary (e.g., for quotations, images,
audio excerpts). If necessary, obtain these permissions or bring the matter to the
attention of the appropriate person.

When requesting this service, please be clear in your scope. We would need to know your medium of publication, target audience, and purpose of the document to help with organization. Note that we can offer a comprehensive package that covers both structural/substantive and copy editing (both light and deep copyediting)

Proofreading Services

This is the least intensive stage of editing, ideally the final stage after copyediting and structural editing. Note that we will assess your manuscript before offering this service. If we establish that your document has jumped another stage of editing, we will advise you to consider such stage first. It is of no use to provide proofreading services to a document riddled with inherent grammatical errors, mainly of stylistic nature such as dangling modifiers, misplaced modifiers, pronoun-antecedent disagreements, subject-verb disagreements, and other logical issues (both global and local).

This stage of editing is also in line with standards for proofreading set by Editors Canada.

Standards for Proofreading
Proofreading is examining material after layout to correct errors in textual and visual
elements.

GENERAL PRACTICES
1. We adhere to the editorial style sheet for the material and update it, if necessary. If no
style sheet is provided, we will use ours.
2. At first-proof stage, we read the material word by word, comparing with previous
copy if supplied.
ERROR CORRECTION
1. We ensure that the first proof contains all the elements in the copy prepared for layout
(e.g., all paragraphs, visual elements, headings).
2. Identify and correct typographical and formatting errors, paying special attention
to problematic areas (e.g., spelling of proper names and non-English words;
accuracy of numbers, tables, and figures).
3. Check consistency and accuracy of elements in the material (e.g., crossreferences,
running heads, captions, titles of web windows, hyperlinks, metadata).
4. Check end-of-line word divisions and mark bad breaks for correction.
5. Understand design specifications and ensure that they have been followed
throughout (e.g., by checking alignment, type size and style, line length, space
around major elements, rules, use of colour, appearance of hyperlinks).
Professional Editorial Standards 13 Revised 2009
6. Recognize typographical and formatting irregularities (e.g., widows and orphans,
overly ragged edges, ill-fitting text, incorrect text colour) and suggest adjustments
to eliminate them.

JUDGMENT
1. Flag matters that may affect later stages of production (e.g., page cross references;
placement of art; alterations that will change layout, indexing, or web
navigation).
2. Query, or correct if authorized to do so, inconsistencies (e.g., in spelling,
punctuation, fact, visual elements, navigation elements, metadata, other content
that may not appear on a published web page). Use judgment about the degree to
which such queries and corrections are called for.
3. Incorporate alterations from authors and other individuals, using judgment and
tact. Where comments conflict, use judgment to mark appropriate alterations.
4. Choose from among various options the changes at each stage of proofreading
that will prove the least costly or the most appropriate, given the production
process, schedule, medium, desired quality, and type of publication (e.g., in an
advertising flyer, pricing errors must be corrected no matter what the stage).