In a post about working in cafes (an environment which many of us find condusive to writing) Wanna Be Ph.D. revealed that she is a non-native English speaker -- which I would not have guessed from the eloquence of her blog. She wrote:
"I really must say that writing in English is for me like playing the violin while wearing gloves. I keep searching for words, for phrases. I know I could write 5 times faster in My Native Language."
Here is my reaction to Wanna Be's post:
"You certainly blog like a native English speaker.
"Still, I advise every non-native english speaker I coach to find an editor -- preferably another grad student from an english department or similar humanities field. Regular use of the right copy editor will lead to marked improvement in your writing -- because you'll learn to avoid your most common mistakes. I have one coaching client who started paying another doctoral student to copy edit her dissertation when she was an ABD. This smart academic is now a 3rd yr t-t prof at an Ivy and sill using the same person to edit her soon-to-be published book...."
I use an editor (but not for blogging, as I'm sure you can tell!) I found my editor by sending an email to the administrative secretary of the journalism department at UNC. Since I work by phone with long-distance clients so much, I wanted an editor I could meet with in person sometimes. Before choosing Grace, a masters student with the quickest red pen in Chapel Hill, I tried two other folks at the same time. It was really useful to see how different people edited the same article and Grace proved to be the best fit for my needs.
In the past few months, I've gotten several emails asking whether I edit academic work (I don't) and whether I know of any good, professional editors of academic material (I don't, but wish I did.) Here's an example of such an email:
I continue to enjoy your blog when I get a chance to read. A blog post on whether or not to use a professional editor for your book would be nice. Had dinner with a recently tenured prof at Harvard Business School and was shocked to learn he used a professional editor for his second book. Maybe it's more common than I thought. Also, I have a colleague who should probably seek out such a service, but doesn't know how to go about finding a good editor here in [Academic Town.]"
I sent back a hearty endorsement and some ideas for finding editors locally. But I'm curious whether other academibloggers agree with me that editing help -- used appropriately -- is a great thing.
What about you? Do you use an editor? Do you think that it is an acceptable practice? Does it feel like "cheating" somehow? What are the boundaries for ethical help?
I got an email from the owner of an academic editing service who said that he wanted to set up some sort of affiliation or partnership with me. I haven't gotten back to him, but thought that the service, AcademicWord, looked interesting. What do you think?