How to systematically become verified of the "textual quality" of submission on time of submission? How to know when quality is good?

Some older posts:

How accurate are published papers?

Why are there many typos and errors in publications?

Dealing with the inevitable presence of mistakes in paper submissions

More particularly, it has seemed to me that 100% error freeness could be technically challenging.

However, is there some general "test of goodness" for "ready for submission"? So given a text, what to do to know it's "good for submission"?

When checking maths, citations, or grammar this is easier. Just see if it matches the rules. But in writing, the particular problem does not seem to be about not knowing rules but knowing where one has broken them by not being systematic enough. I.e. methods for managing error.

Further, the errors usually exist in layers (citations, grammar, parts of grammar rules, cross-references, logical connections, ...). In fact, I think this should specifically ask for a "systematic method" for inferring and/or managing the accuracy. Do such exist?

This could be further confused by a myriad of subjective factors, such as seen in e.g.:



Dealing with the inevitable presence of mistakes in paper submissions

Has some answers like:

https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/171572/125350 https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/171578/125350

However, I'm lost as to how would one do the verification in practice or in a "checkbox" manner and how to actually meet what's sufficient. Given that submissions have errors even with proofreading could suggest that this is not trivial at all.

Definitions such as:

  • "they make the paper unreadable"

seem ambiguous if the submitter believed it's readable. So how to decide how readable is it?

Tips like

  • "you learn to make papers "better" by writing papers"

seem unclear for actual verification or measurement of quality for submission.

There's one answer saying:

In summary, my recommendation is to try to point out the key areas in your paper that are likely to be read by Reviewers and focus on having those completely free of mistakes. Perfection is difficult to guarantee, so at least focus on the big picture.

But this is contradictory for the process of writing. If the paper would be read in "glimpses", then shouldn't this suggest that one should aim to make short explanations in the first place? And then checking would be easier since there's less of it? However, is this the only way? OTOH, short texts may fail by being "too dense". And then the question would be "well how'd one know it's too dense?".

Further, this is contradicted by:


More-narrative approaches can be more robust, and less sensitive to typos and other errors.

Confusing the notion on whether the quality can be managed in an independent way. Making writing seem like a matter of taste, but which it cannot be if "quality" must be agreeable. And introducing hard-to-systemize aspects(?)

  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because it asks for instructions to do something that is impossible. Jan 4 at 14:56
  • Also possible duplicate. academia.stackexchange.com/questions/41812/… Jan 4 at 14:57
  • Please consult the help for information about asking questions. Jan 4 at 17:41
  • No need for your question to be deleted; if you'd prefer it to be closed as a duplicate of one of these other questions rather than merely closed, you can reply to this comment (with "@BryanKrause") and I'll update it.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 4 at 18:24
  • @BryanKrause I've put an honest effort into making it better and I still think it's a useful question.
    – mavavilj
    Jan 4 at 18:24

Published texts are virtually never 100% error-free. If it happens, it's because all the people involved proofread it very, very carefully.

For illustration, I once edited a book where the author's wife said she'll proofread the manuscript again and again until she can't find any more errors. She (and me) carefully checked all the proofs at every stage, and yet after we published it, we found a typo ...


When error free things appear in print it is, often enough, a combination of blind luck along with many eyes.

The luck part should be clear.

The many eyes means that several people have reviewed the work with an "eye" toward corrections. The different people have different concerns. Content reviewers are looking for errors of meaning. But copy editors are looking purely at the form. And that process of using several different people with different concerns is what publishers use to approach an error-free text even if it fails in some way. They also, often, publish errata, so that the reading public can help in the process of error correction with future printings taking account of the errors found and reported.

Donald Knuth has, in the past offered cash bounties for errors found in his CS works, though they are now symbolic "payments". So, the error free state is approached asymptotically in a sense.

An author is not the best person to find errors in their work because of the way the mind works. There are two aspects to this. One is that you, the author, often "see" on the page what you thought you wrote rather than what you did write. I've switched intersection and union in math formulae for example and it was only by accident that I noticed it.

The second aspect is that the mind uses a predictive process when you read (I don't have a reference handy) so that it predicts what is to follow immediately after what you have already read. This speeds up reading, but also lets you overlook errors. This second aspect applies to other readers than just the author of course, bringing us back to many eyes and luck.

And some copyeditors are just better at finding small errors than others, and some reviewers are better at finding big errors.

So, the process works even if imperfectly.

This is one of the big issues with self-publishing. You don't normally have many eyes, only (blind) luck.

  • So is standard that "sufficiently many eyes agree on it"? But this could vary by sample? I'm not also sure if it's about luck, since some may claim that writing is a formal endeavor. That is, by following "rules" the text should be golden. And a good test is how well it meets these rules? Like a grammar test (you compare to established grammar rules).
    – mavavilj
    Jan 4 at 19:49
  • @mavavilj, it is more that the "many eyes" actually improve it, not just agree that it is ok.
    – Buffy
    Jan 4 at 19:52
  • But I'm asking for measures for deciding when the submission is "ready for primetime". So e.g. how many eyes? What kind of eyes? What if there are eyes that don't agree?
    – mavavilj
    Jan 4 at 19:52
  • I think you've changed the question so that it is too dissimilar to the original. The editor decides when it is ready.
    – Buffy
    Jan 4 at 19:56
  • So is it then, when one has bounced it to the editor enough times? That's the measure? But this doesn't inform how one could improve systematically as a submitter.
    – mavavilj
    Jan 4 at 19:57

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