I try to have any manuscript proofread before submission to an academic journal, where proofreading typically involves checking/fixing the spelling, grammar and overall style in English.

This decision often involves somewhat difficult decisions to make on how best to proceed. Here I am interested in one particular dimension of the problem. How to select someone good to proofread an article for an academic outlet?

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    By proofreading do you mean checking/fixing the spelling, grammar and overall style in English, or are you talking about the content? – Cape Code Sep 16 '15 at 16:41
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    First, the author. – JeffE Sep 17 '15 at 3:15
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    @JeffE: Even before the author does his proofreading, I think an automatic spellcheck/repetition check/etcetera is in order. There are various tools for spellchecking a .tex file. I imagine this can also be done with other formats. – tomasz Sep 17 '15 at 11:00

To proofread something, you need somebody who knows about the subject matter. They have to gain something too, doing the work just for "fun" doesn't cut it. So your best bet is a coauthor, a colleague who is willing to swap proofreads with you, someone in the research group (understanding what others are doing should be beneficial), even perhaps your advisor.

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  • "They have to gain something too" - when I'm in "proofreading mode", I can attentively read a document from start to end, find all grammar and spelling mistakes, and yet have not even a remote idea what the document was about. Maybe that's just me, but I feel it is rather impossible to "gain" anything contents-wise at the very moment of proofreading. – O. R. Mapper Sep 20 '15 at 21:28

Cape Code's and vonbrand's comments are spot-on. Proofreading and copy editing are many a time considered the same thing, but they are not. If you want the content to be corrected or refined, copy editing will do the job. Proofreading is a light kind of edit which deals with spelling, punctuation, local grammar (subject-verb agreement, article usage,etc.) and typographical aspects. A copy editor, on the other hand, will check the global text issues (text organisation), pertinent vocabulary (general and domain specific), sentence construction and others. As vonbrand says, someone who knows the subject matter should proofread/copy edit. I do not recommend proofreading your own work as it is likely that you miss your own errors or inconsistencies. The best of writers are surprised by what their editors catch.

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  • You mean you doing recommend being the only person to proof read your own work. – Lyndon White Sep 21 '15 at 9:28
  • Not sure what you mean, but to make the statement clear, I do not recommend that a writer proofread his or her own work. – r00t314 Sep 22 '15 at 20:05
  • Not at all? I mean, when I write something, first I will read it and make corrections, then I will pass it on to someone else (a friend, my wife, my supervisor etc) for them to proofread. Because I don't want to have them spend time fixing and noting down all the errors, when I could knock-off say 25% of them myself. – Lyndon White Sep 23 '15 at 0:25
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    Sorry about this very delayed response. Yes, self-proofreading is the first step towards clearing any surface errors. But then, writers are too familiar to their content; they can get blind spots towards their inconsistencies and overlook errors. See wired.com/2014/08/wuwt-typos and theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2013/aug/09/…. So a second pair of eyes--preferably trained--will definitely take care of the persisting errors. Hence, the recommendation. – r00t314 Nov 15 '15 at 19:41

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