Worldwide connections cause postgraduates and editors to work together from different countries. Therefore, expectations need to be clarified from the very beginning.
Haidee Kruger and Ayesha Bevan-Dye describe the complexity of editing postgraduate work in South Africa. Postgraduate work is generated from students learning in a variety of modes, students possessing varying language proficiencies, and students speaking different languages. Given the students’ varying circumstances, many South African universities require that graduate students have their dissertations and theses edited before submission. However, few editorial standards exist, which could cause a difference in expectations between students and editors, or even among editors themselves. In their 2010 paper, “Guidelines for the Editing of Dissertations and Theses: A Survey of Editors’ Perceptions,” Kruger and Bevan-Dye set out to discover the extent to which editors’ expectations differed.
Kruger and Bevan-Dye began by comparing the extant editorial guidelines in South Africa with those from Canada and Australia. They then surveyed 37 South African editors. This survey asked the editors to respond to three general types of questions:
- The extent to which specific editorial tasks—ranging from copyediting tasks to content editing tasks—should be part of editing postgraduate theses and dissertations
- How the editors edited—in a word processor versus hardcopy
- How the editors felt about queries or comments
The results of this survey indicate that South African editors of postgraduate work disagree in many areas about what should be expected of editors of theses and dissertations. But in general, South African editors agree that some of the editing guidelines established in other parts of the world are appropriate, including the fact that editing “should focus on the correction of language and other textual errors, as well as the imposition of consistency in the text” (2010, 162). However, the survey also indicated that South African editors disagree with certain editing guidelines established in other parts of the world:
- South African editors feel that “any intervention regarding content is not the responsibility of the editor” (161).
- South African editors expect that checking sources will be done by the graduate student or the graduate student’s supervisor; however, global guidelines dictate that editors should check these sources.
- South African editors feel that, if a style guide exists for the type of writing that they are editing, it is not the responsibility of the editor to verify that the writing conforms with the style guide.
The survey findings suggest that South African editors of theses and dissertations have different editing expectations than other parts of the world. In this day and age of worldwide connection and in the specific scenario in South Africa where postgraduates come from many different backgrounds, it is possible that a postgraduate from a country with different editing expectations than South Africa will employ the services of a South African editor. If the postgraduate expects the editor to perform an edit without clarifying what they actually want for the edit, the postgraduate may be disappointed, and the valuable work may not contain the edits that it needs. The work might even become published with errors, and both the postgraduate’s and the editor’s credibility will go down, all because expectations were not clarified from the beginning of the editing process.
Therefore, the best way to avoid missing edits is to make sure that expectations are explicitly set forth at the beginning of the editing process, no matter where that editing process is taking place or who is doing the editing. Whether the editing occurs in Bangladesh or Boston, and whether the editor is Indian or Italian, expectations need to be clarified from the very beginning. That way, no edits are missed and the final product will be something that both the postgraduate and the editor will be proud of.
To discover more about Kruger and Bevan-Dye’s survey, read the full article:
Kruger, Haidee and Ayesha Bevan-Dye. “Guidelines for the Editing of Dissertations and Theses: A Survey of Editors’ Perceptions.” Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 28, no 2, 153–169. https://doi.org/10.2989/16073614.2010.519110.
—Michael Pulsipher, Editing Research
FEATURE IMAGE BY AFIF RAMDHASUMA
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