What is a good way to proofread a journal article before you submit it? I would like to do more than just spellcheck.
Proofreading is really hard. The best way to proofread is to ask a friend to do it, who is less familiar with the material and therefore will be more likely to spot inconsistencies and errors---especially the bigger gaps in logic and tangles in presentation that are so difficult for an author to see. You're simply too familiar with the technical material, and will inherently read it non-linearly, where a new reader will not.
For doing it yourself, I recommend printing out a copy of the material on physical paper and reading it out loud to yourself. Reading out load has two big advantages:
- It slows you down a lot, thereby forcing you to pay attention to every word. Ordinarily, most of us actually read at a whole-phrase or whole-sentence level, which lets us hallucinate in things that are not there.
- Reading out loud engages your language system through two different channels, thereby increasing the salience of any error and making it more likely for you to notice it.
You don't have to print it out---reading it out loud on a screen can work too---but I like printing it out because that also lets me take the paper into a different context with less distractions for doing the proofing as well.