Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Proof reading

"Now, is that 'i' before 'e'
except after 'c' ...?"
I recently received an email advertisement for a proof-reading service which contained, inter alia, the following text:
" ... We are offering an efficient service to help you and your colleagues ensure that your academic and professional work is written in perfect English. We will check the grammar and style of your work and return it to you to meet your requirements and deadlines.

If your research has too many English spelling and grammar errors, or if the publisher’s style guide has not been followed, your research may be rejected without due regard to its content. We strongly suggest sending the document to us for editing and proofreading before submission, particularly if English is not your first language.

We can provide you with a professional proofreading service at a very reasonable rate. All our proofreaders are highly qualified native English speakers. Many work as leading academics in their fields and all have extensive experience of proofreading to the highest standards. We ... [cover] all academic areas including ... Law ...

... All you have to do is send us your document ... with the deadline and we will guarantee delivery of a perfectly written document to give you complete confidence when you submit your work. The fee is worked out on a flat rate (£7.99 per thousand words or 0.799 pence per word), so you know exactly how much the proofreading will cost in advance. ..."
This service is provided by one of a large number of companies which vie with each other for the custom of authors.  Sadly it is my impression that, even at the relatively modest sum which these companies charge, virtually no use is made of their services by anyone who submits material for publication in JIPLP. This is a pity, since poor-quality text distracts peer reviewers and incurs extra, quite unnecessary labour for the editing and production staff.  Good-quality proof reading would benefit not merely those contributors who are not native English-speakers but those who are and who, because they have never learned the rules of their native language or have forgotten them, sometimes produce texts of woeful quality.

JIPLP does not make the engagement of a professional proof-reader a condition for the submission of articles and Current Intelligence notes; nor does it propose to do so. However, we wish to remind readers that an error-free page of text is not a sign of pedantry; it is evidence that its author has attained a degree of proficiency in communicating his or her thoughts which cannot be impeached for fostering distractions. If you don't wish to engage the services of a professional, do at least remember to check for textual imperfections yourself!

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