My fiancee often has me edit her undergraduate papers for grammar and style. I myself have not been to college and possess only a high school diploma. To further complicate matters, my interests have always been in STEM and not writing, and I have always worked jobs in construction. Despite these facts, she still insists that I do a better job of editing/"peer" reviewing her work than the majority of her classmates.

There are times though when she brings me papers that are written on topics with which I am completely unfamiliar. These papers tend to include a large number of terms and formats which I'm sure make perfect sense within the overall context but are very difficult to parse outside of that context.

Contrary to her claims, I really believe there must be someone better who can edit her papers. She feels I am the ideal editor though, and as long as she holds that belief I will strive to be as effective as possible. I would like any tips, methods, blogs, or books that might help me accomplish that goal.

Alternatively, I will also accept advice that might persuade her to allow a peer to do the peer reviewing.

  • 5
    For what it's worth, I see no reason why someone with a high school diploma cannot be an excellent grammar/style editor. (E.g. a former editor of their high school paper may have more training in this than most graduate students.) I couldn't help but notice that the writing sample you have given us is flawless: that is well above the average quality of writing we get from questions here written by graduate students (whose native language may not be English, to be fair). Also, the fact that you are dedicated to your fiancee and willing to do a good job for free counts for a lot. – Pete L. Clark Oct 25 '16 at 1:46
  • Is there any aspect that you find particularly difficult? It's reasonable to want tips to help improve, but it's difficult to suggest tips when there's no indication that you're not already doing a good job. If there are unfamiliar terms then you could perhaps familiarise yourself with their general meaning and, perhaps more importantly, how they're used in speech (e.g., is it a verb, a noun, etc.), but if your fiance isn't complaining about your work then maybe you don't need to improve? – Ian_Fin Oct 25 '16 at 8:26
  1. If you're not sure if a technical term is being used correctly, do a quick google of the usage to see if other people use it that way, or in a slightly different way.

  2. Put brackets around the phrases or sections where you feel particularly unsure, and tell her you had to skip those portions because it was too technical.

  3. Cast around among your acquaintances, or put up a note on a bulletin board, to find another editor (possibly paid). Explain to her that it would be good to find a professional she likes, for future use, either to check some parts you were unsure about, or to fill in for you if you're under the weather or very busy with something else.

It seems you are discovering you have a natural aptitude for editing!

  • Better still, make a list of the terms and get her to explain them -- that will help you both, and you'll soon understand much more including from the context – Chris H Oct 25 '16 at 11:01

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