“The more collaborative and complex the project (such as a proposal, a brochure, or an annual report), the earlier the editor should participate.” —Carol Gerich (1994)

I recently completed a class about substantive editing as technical editors. Previously, I hadn’t known what technical editing required. Since then, I have been able to see how important technical editors can be, especially during the writing and revision process. Technical editors are there to help make the author’s work understandable. 


In the article “How Technical Editors Can Enrich the Revision Process,” Carol Gerich’s (1994) purpose is to show that when “editors are respected for the crucial role they play as the language experts on collaborative review teams, their contributions can be enhanced by earlier involvement in the revision cycle” (60). For her research, Gerich interviewed and observed four participants who worked together in the same department. Two of the participants were PhD-level geophysicists and frequent contributors to noted journals in their field. The other two were editors, with 6–10 years of editing experience. Gerich had the authors pass their research to the editors for revision. Afterwards, the editors met with their assigned author to discuss their suggestions. Gerich observed that they were communicating well and that the authors accepted at least 75% of the editors’ recommendations and resisted mostly the edits related to rewriting the research. Regarding acceptance versus resistance, one editor particularly emphasized that “establishing credibility with the author from the very beginning is the best way to ensure that the editor’s recommendations will be considered seriously” (69).

[H]e would use at least 75 percent of the editors’ suggestions in his final revisions. This percentage is particularly high because the editors made considerably more suggestions for revision than other members of the review team.

—Carol Gerich (1994)


In this case, the authors experienced a positive interaction with their editors because the authors were able to successfully communicate with their editors. Carol Gerich (1994) says that “earlier involvement [in the revision cycle] will increase the authors’ receptivity to substantive change.” If this were more often the case, then with the help of editors, authors could better communicate their ideas to the specific audience. As technical editors, we can take this research and apply it into our careers by informing future clients that involving editors sooner can benefit the author.

To learn more about how technical editors can help during the revision process, read the full article: 

Gerich, Carol. 1994. “How technical editors enrich the revision process.” Technical Communication 41, no. 1 (February): 59–70. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43090914.

—Isabella Nuñez, Editing Research


Find more research

To learn how technical editors add value to the writing process, check out this article by Michelle Corbin, Pat Moell, and Mike Boyd (2002): “Technical Editing as Quality Assurance: Adding Value to Content.” Technical Communication 49, no. 3 (August): 286–300.

To see the different views on technical editing, read this book by Avon J. Murphy and Charles H. Sides (2010): New Perspectives on Technical Editing (New York: Routledge). 

For a refresher on technical editing, read the chapter “Technical Editing” (pages 221–30) by Elizabeth R. Turpin and Judith Gunn Bronson (1997) in the book Foundations for Teaching Technical Communication: Theory, Practice, and Program Design, edited by Katherine Staples and Cezar Ornatowski (Connecticut: Ablex Publishing Company).