Can an editor make substantial edits to an author's book or paper and publish them without the author's permission?

  • 3
    No. The more interesting question might be what happens if someone does so anyway. – Peter Dec 19 '16 at 19:53
  • I think the situation might be different for books and articles. In my experience editors don't "edit" anything in submitter papers. – Cape Code Dec 19 '16 at 20:48


Editorial review is an iterative process in which an editor, reviews and the author(s) have open (although usually blind) exchanges about the details of a manuscript. The process relies wholly on a full exchange of information between all parties.

A helpful and detailed account of a standard editorial process may be found at the National Institutes for Health website.

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  • 1
    I will add that I'm sure some editors, using poor practice, make such changes and don't alert the author. But such practice greatly compromises editorial and scientific processes. – Ben Dec 19 '16 at 19:57
  • We tend to disprefer link-only answers. This might be flagged for further explication or for deletion. – RoboKaren Dec 19 '16 at 20:03

As Cape Code remarks in a comment, things are probably different for books and papers.

For what concerns papers, it would be probably very difficult, if not impossible, for an editor to make substantial edits without author's approval for the following reasons:

  • The editor might not have access to the paper source files, which are frequently managed by another office.
  • The author usually has to approve the galley proofs before publication, and the editor changes would be easily detected. And if the editor makes a number of unapproved last minute changes, the author would be able to use the approved galley proof to put up a case against the editor.
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If you have to ask the question, then it is not your original work. As you said, you are "editing". Editors are not the original writers.

When you change the structure of the sentence, you are paraphrasing the original passage and therefore, the original author gets credit for that!

In lieu of direct permission, a citation is an absolute must before you publish.

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  • 2
    Welcome to Academia.SE. Sorry, but this does not answer the question, and there's nothing which suggests that the OP is the editor themselves. – Massimo Ortolano Dec 19 '16 at 21:16
  • Thank's for the feedback Massimo and I disagree. I have certainly answered this question correctly. Given the question, I don't believe we have enough information to get too specific. What we do know is that Geramia or someone he knows [I use the term "you" in the general sense] wants to publish someone else's work after having edited it, of course in an academic paper I assume because this is Academia and not Publishing. Under these circumstances, I stand by my answer. – Karen Gordon-Brown Dec 20 '16 at 22:42

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