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Hiring a Medical Editor: 5 Ways to Reduce Costs

When you hire a science or medical editor for your manuscript, you pay for expertise that can save time, add clarity and accuracy, and allow you to focus on your writing.

You also benefit from learning about your most common errors so that you can reduce costs when preparing documents in future.

If you have the time needed for self-editing, however, you may want to use it to minimize the costs of having your document professionally edited by a medical editor.

Here are five ideas that may help.

1. Revise, revise, revise

Fine-tuning is crucial for producing a well-written document.

After writing your first draft, revise. After revising your second draft, revise. Repeat as necessary.

After you have written and revised several times, consider examining your manuscript for one type of error at a time, or a combination of just a few, and revise after each round.

For example, go through your manuscript once to check cross-references: Have you cited every table, figure, and appendix in text? Are any tables or figures missing? Did you cite the tables and figures in the correct order? Does the description in the text for each figure or table correspond with what is actually in that figure or table?

Review your manuscript again for spelling errors. Have a dictionary close by. Use your computer's spell-checker—it won't catch the difference between similar-sounding words that are spelled correctly, such as “principle” and “principal”—but it will eliminate obvious spelling errors.

Continue to search for one type of error at a time, revising as you go. You could focus on wordiness, numbers, abbreviations, passive voice—the possibilities are endless.

By concentrating on one specific error, you are more likely to find the trouble spots. And the more errors you are able to eliminate, the fewer you leave to the medical editor.

2. Exchange manuscripts

Ask colleagues (including those outside your specialty) to critique your manuscript, perhaps in exchange for help that you can offer them.

Ask that they point out grammar errors, wordiness, and inconsistencies.

Most important, ask them to read your draft for unclear or ambiguous text. If your colleagues cannot understand something, neither will other readers.

Revise your draft, incorporating your colleagues' feedback.

3. Distance yourself

This technique is one that I use regularly as a medical editor.

After you have completed your "final" draft, let it sit.

Put your manuscript away and ignore it for a while, the longer the better. Leave it several days if possible, but if you are short of time, a day or even a few hours will suffice. Then take a fresh look at your writing.

This step is critical if others have not reviewed your draft, but a good idea even if they have.

What you notice after taking a break may surprise you. You will likely be able to spot many more errors.

Revise, incorporating your own observations.

4. Keep tabs on your writing

Keep track of your most frequent errors.

Make a list from your colleagues' feedback and your own revisions. If you have used the services of a medical or science editor before, note the types of errors that were often corrected.

Then take the time to learn how to avoid these problem areas. If several types of errors cause problems, tackle them one at a time so that you are less likely to feel overwhelmed.

By paying attention to these errors now, you will save time and expense when you prepare written work in future.

5. Format your references

Do you have the time to properly format the references in the style required by your publisher? If so, you can save on this part of the cost of hiring a medical editor.

This does not mean that the editor should not review your references for errors and inconsistencies—I have rarely come across a reference list that does not contain multiple errors, even when an author has used a software program to produce it. Human error can—and often does—occur when entering the data.

You can also save by ensuring that each reference includes all publication details. In addition, check that every text citation has a corresponding reference and vice versa.

Visit the English Grammar Tips and Style Guides pages elsewhere on this site for tips on common grammar errors and on formatting references.

Do you have a question about science or medical editing, or an idea for reducing costs that I can add to this list? Please contact me online.

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