Guest blog from Jim Bowden, top-expert on Peerwith: https://peerwith.expert/jimbowden
I have worked in academic publishing for well over 20 years in various roles covering copy-editing (both doing this myself and managing large teams of external copy-editors) and author relations (understanding academic authors’ needs). For the last three years, I have been a freelance copy-editor. This experience has provided me with what I consider to be a deep insight into the world of academic copy-editing. Based on this experience, I feel it is important to share my thoughts on the current state of play in academic copy-editing.
I am on the books of more than one traditional copy-editing provider, but the majority of my work comes through Peerwith (a peer-to-peer copy-editing service), which offers a unique (to the best of my knowledge) and really quite revolutionary approach to academic copy-editing, both for authors and copy-editors. Further, if authors come to me independently, outside of Peerwith or any traditional copy-editing service, I always suggest that they use Peerwith for their copy-editing needs. So, why is this?
First, I need to explain the difference between the peer-to-peer copy-editing service provided by Peerwith and traditional copy-editing services. Below are the most common author requirements/questions (based on my experience detailed above) and how Peerwith (as a peer-to-peer copy-editing provider) addresses them compared to a traditional copy-editing company.
|Author requirement||Peer-to-peer editing service (Peerwith)||Traditional editing services|
|Can you see the profile and author reviews of all the editors/experts you can potentially choose to work on your manuscript?||YES. This is the key to peer-to-peer services. You can see details of all the editors/experts, including author reviews of their work. You can either: 1) search for suitable editors/experts and then contact them directly; or 2) post your request to all editors/experts and see who responds (at which point you can click to see their profile and author reviews).||NO. You do not get to see the profiles or reviews of all editors/experts. You may see some customer reviews, but they will be chosen by the company and will not be linked to a specific editor/expert.|
|Can you pick the editor/expert you want to work with?||YES. Again, this is the key to peer-to-peer services. You get to choose exactly who you work with.||NO. Your manuscript will be sent to an editor/expert chosen by the editing-service company. You have no real control over who works on your manuscript. If you have worked with a particular company before, you can ask for your manuscript to be copy-edited by the same (or a different) editor/expert, but there is no guarantee that this will be possible.|
|Can you communicate directly with the editor/expert working on your manuscript throughout the process?||YES. You can talk directly to the editor/expert throughout the entire process. Communication is instantaneous and unmediated, so you can ask (and be asked) as many questions as necessary to ensure all requirements are met.||NO. All communication between you and the editor/expert goes through a third party employed by the copy-editing company. This slows the process down and this third party may decide to answer any questions himself or herself (based on company policy) rather than contacting the author or editor/expert.|
|Can you ask for a sample copy-edit of your work before choosing who to work with?||YES. As all communication is instantaneous and unmediated, you can ask for anything you may require, including sample copy-editing. Notably though, you can provide feedback on the sample copy-editing, ask for clarification of certain points, etc.||YES. This is usually provided by all major editing services. However, it is not so easy to provide feedback on the sample copy-editing or ask for clarification of certain points. You are usually expected just to receive the sample copy-editing and then decide if you want to proceed or not.|
|Can you specify the exact service(s) you require?||YES. Again, this is the key to peer-to-peer services. You can provide as much detail as needed directly to the editor/expert (pay special attention to sections X, Y, Z or Tables X, Y, Z; do not change X, Y, Z; check validity of implications; provide suggestions for X, Y, Z; suggest potential journal for this paper; etc.).||LIMITED. Invariably, traditional copy-editing services provide much more “out of the box” copy-editing. You usually get just language editing plus formatting for a specific journal. You can always ask though; some companies are more flexible than others.|
|Can you negotiate on price?||YES. Peerwith has recommended pricing based on word count but this is entirely negotiable with as many editors/experts as you wish. It is very much a “buyer’s market”. You get to choose both the editor/expert you want to work with and the price.||LIMITED. You can ask, but prices are usually fixed based on word count and are non-negotiable.|
|Can you leave a review of the editor/expert (good or bad) that will be visible to all?||YES. Again, this is the key to peer-to-peer services. Your feedback is visible to all enabling other authors to make the best choice regarding which editor/expert to work with.||NO. Your feedback will undoubtedly be acknowledged and used by the company; editors/experts getting good feedback will get more work and those getting bad reviews will get less work or possibly be excluded. However, there is no transparency in this process as it is all done behind the scenes and you will not be able to see all author reviews of the editor/expert that will be chosen for you to work on your manuscript.|
|Is your payment secure?||YES. Your payments to Peerwith are secure and guaranteed. Peerwith does not release any money to the editor/expert until you officially mark the job as complete.||YES. Payments are usually secure and guaranteed in a similar way.|
|What happens if you are not satisfied with the work done?||Peerwith will find another editor/expert to do the work for you or you will be reimbursed.||The same process is usually used by traditional copy-editing companies.|
|Can you ensure that the same editor/expert will work on your manuscripts in future?||YES. You can go back directly to an editor/expert you have work with before and trust.||LIMITED. You can ask for the same editor/expert to work on your manuscript, but there is no guarantee that this will be possible. Also, you will probably not actually know the name of who worked on your last paper.|
To summarise, the peer-to-peer model offered (uniquely to the best of my knowledge) by Peerwith is characterized by:
- services tailored specifically to individual author requirements;
- instantaneous and unmoderated communication between the author and the editor/expert; and
- perhaps most importantly for many authors, the ability to negotiate on price (many authors have had work copy-edited via Peerwith for much less than they were quoted by traditional copy-editing companies, sometimes half the price).
It is important to note here that I am NOT saying at all that traditional copy-editing companies do not provide high-quality copy-editing. As I say, I am on the books of more than one such company and have seen first-hand the tests that must be taken and the requirements that must be met. What I am saying though is that they are generally unable to offer the same level of service on the four points above.
Therefore, I suggest that all authors “shop around” before deciding on which copy-editing service to use, and I strongly suggest that Peerwith should always be one of the options that all authors investigate before making the final choice.