What is a good way to proofread a journal article before you submit it? I would like to do more than just spellcheck.

  • 1
    Welcome to Academia SE. Can you please give us more details about the situation, e.g., are you proofreading your own article, an article you are familiar with or an article that is completely new to you? Are you a native speaker of the article’s language or not? What kind of errors are you hunting: Spelling, grammar, content?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 16 '15 at 14:11
  • I think this is a good question: I usually still find stupid mistakes after hundreds of spellcheck passes. I'd love to see some tips. But we need a little bit more information: what's going wrong at the moment? What kind of answers are you expecting?
    – Peter
    Sep 16 '15 at 14:12
  • @mrb I've expanded your question slightly based on the comment you wrote; please feel free to revert if you disagree with my edit.
    – jakebeal
    Sep 16 '15 at 14:14
  • @jakebeal It's not my question :) I agree with the edits, though.
    – Peter
    Sep 16 '15 at 14:16
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    I don't think this is really about academia at all, and asking for "the best way" is soliciting opinions. As it happens, a similar question has already been asked and answered on Writers.SE
    – 410 gone
    Sep 16 '15 at 14:18

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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