Don't let English affect your chances of getting published!

Meet The Team – Ms Louise Woods

10 March 2021

Learning more about the specialists who actually edit your manuscripts will help boost your confidence in a successful outcome. With that in mind we’re pleased to launch “Meet the Team”, where our hard-working, gifted editing team will share more about their backgrounds as well as thoughts on editing and academic writing.

In this interview our other Co-Chief Editor and Managing Editor (Humanities), Ms Louise Woods, tells us about her experience, views and suggestions for authors.

Could you tell us a little more about your background?

My first degree was in English at Jesus College, Cambridge. Although the Cambridge English Tripos covers the full sweep of literature written in English from 1300 to the present day, my attention repeatedly returned to medieval and (especially) Renaissance texts. I discovered that my skills and passion lay in “close reading” – formal, structural, metrical and grammatical analysis – of prose, poetry and drama. After graduating from my undergraduate degree and subsequently Cambridge’s MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, I embarked on a PhD – also at Jesus College – on the various senses of ‘falling’ (grammatical, metrical, structural, performed…) in Shakespearean tragic theatre. Later, serving as an academic supervisor for the University, including a two-year honorary appointment as Senior Member at Newnham College, I taught seminars and small-group supervisions and classes to undergraduate students at more than 15 colleges. Throughout my teaching and research, the intricate, rigorous analysis of linguistic form and structure remained my passion. Pursuing a career in editing was the intuitive next step.

Having edited so many papers for different authors in Asia, what do you feel are their strengths and weaknesses in academic writing?

I am consistently impressed by the high level of subject knowledge evinced by AsiaEdit’s clients across disciplines. Their academic writing frequently also evinces sensitivity to the norms and expectations of their respective fields, from tone and terminology to paper structure and requirements for publication. However, many papers lack clarity in the organisation of ideas at the sentence and/or paragraph level due to grammatical inaccuracy. A common problem is the incorrect or inconsistent use of verb tense, which makes it difficult for the reader to determine how different parts of the research relate to each other chronologically. Our responsibility as editors is to produce succinct, grammatically correct and academic-sounding prose that clearly communicates an author’s meaning while retaining their “voice” as far as possible.

Do you have any suggestions for non-native English authors to enhance their chances of successful publication?

Authors should ensure that their research is rigorously edited and proofread – a service that we at AsiaEdit are happy to provide. They should adhere to journal and other style requirements where applicable, and respond respectfully and with care to reviewers’ feedback. As many journal “gatekeepers” read only the title and abstract of a paper, authors should formulate a succinct, clear, informative and memorable title and an abstract that describes the research honestly, accurately and concisely.

What are the most common grammatical errors that you come across when editing journal papers?

Prepositions in English are often confused/misused by authors whose first language is not English. Although they are often small words, such as “at”, “to”, and “on”, prepositions play a vital role in indicating the spatial and temporal relationships between things or parts of a sentence. Problems also arise when conjunctions (such as “if” and “although”) are used incorrectly or ambiguously, as this muddies the internal logic of a sentence. Many non-native English speaking authors lack confidence in using pronouns (such as “it” and “they”), which can make it difficult for a reader to determine who or what is being referred to. As previously mentioned, papers may also lack clarity or consistency in verb tense.

You must have to do a lot of reading and editing every day. What are your tips for staying focused?

Take regular breaks, ideally involving exercise, social interaction and/or time spent in the open air! Reading ‘for fun’ is another good way to take a break from academic writing and perhaps even refresh and diversify one’s own editing style and approach. Most important of all is maintaining a good work–life balance with healthy sleep patterns.

We will be speaking with another member of our editing team in the next issue. Do keep an eye out for it!

Meanwhile if you are looking for a professional editing service to improve your chances of publication success, check out our academic editing service which is trusted by many leading academics!

Author Resources

Check out AsiaEdit’s professional research grant proposal editing service.
Read more about our training services covering all aspects of academic writing tailored for local institutions.

More resources on research grant proposal writing: On-demand Webinars
Preparing an effective research proposal – Your guide to successful funding application
Preparing an effective research proposal – Your guide to successful funding application (Part 2)

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