A Manuscript Editing Checklist for Journal Submission

Published : August 14, 2020. Updated: September 1, 2020.
open text book

Submitting an academic manuscript for journal publication is the final step in getting your research published in a scientific journal. But prior to submission, you must prepare your manuscript by crossing all your “t”s and dotting all your “i”s.

A major component of this process is editing and proofreading your research article. And authors are advised to do this before sending a manuscript to journal editors.

Here we discuss what to look for when revising a manuscript. We will also show how an editing and proofreading service helps you tick the boxes in this manuscript editor’s checklist.

  1. Revising Your Manuscript for Submission to Academic Journals

    Preparing a manuscript for publication takes more than a thorough spell check for typos and proofreading for grammar errors. Authors should also check all sections of their academic papers to ensure that they have put key content in the proper place.

    Journal publishers have high standards for the writing quality of the research articles they publish. Their initial screening of your manuscript is explained in the manuscript submission guidelines of most journal websites. They usually include their own editing checklist to determine whether major or minor revisions are needed before acceptance.

    Use the following categories as a checklist of what to look for during the manuscript editing process. It may just save your paper from unnecessary revisions later—or even from rejection.

    Are the contents of your study well-organized?

    Check to make sure that your study contains everything needed in the Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections (or whichever sections are required by your target journal). Have you included contextual information about the study, such as background and current research?

    Have you done a thorough review of the relevant literature? Are main methods and analytical tools fully explained? Does your discussion focus sufficiently on the results of the study and include any study limitations?

    The internal organization within each research paper section is just as important. Do your results line up clearly with your methodology? Will your arguments and conclusions be clear to the reader, or could you make them clearer by adding, removing, or relocating some of the research content? Is your point of view on the research implications of your study represented somewhere in the Discussion?

    Are writing elements consistently applied?

    Consistency is important in any research work. Journal editors need to understand your argument and confirm that the arguments, terms, and even spelling and punctuation are applied consistently throughout.

    The following consistency issues appear all too often in final manuscript drafts:

    • Active/passive voice: Authors should understand when to use active and passive voice in their research writing. Does your paper apply voice consistently in a way that is in line with the journal’s style and guidelines?
    • Parallelism: Are the parts of every sentence parallel? Authors must learn how to fix parallelism issues in their writing so that it meets high academic standards.
    • Verb tense: Different sections and situations call for different verb tenses. For instance, when discussing what was done in the Results or Methods sections, authors should generally use the simple past tense. In the Discussion section, when referring to the study’s implications, the present tense is usually applied.
    • Articles: Articles (“a/an/the”) and other determiners can cause a lot of problems for non-native English speakers. Learn how to apply articles correctly in writing.

    Inconsistencies in person (1st, 2nd or 3rd person perspective), structure (section headings, indentation, font, etc.), and spelling are common mistakes in submitted manuscripts.

    Are the vocabulary terms precise, natural, and academic?

    All keywords and phrases used in your study should be applied correctly and should sound natural. When an imprecise or incorrect term is found in a paper, this signals to journal editors that perhaps you are not careful when applying scientific terms.

    In addition, vary your verbs. Rather than write “carry out,” try “conduct” or “perform.” Apply some alternative verbs in your academic writing to strengthen its impact on readers.

    Is the writing clear and natural?

    When editing a manuscript, focus on the “readability” of the work as well as on the individual terms used. Is your manuscript easy to read? Are the key points understandable? Are phrases and expressions written at a suitably academic level of English?

    English editing services greatly enhance elements of style. Professional editors are able to rephrase nearly any kind of unnatural sentence (provided their meaning is clear enough) and write it in a way that best portrays the author’s intended meaning.

    Has the work been thoroughly proofread?

    Proofreading is often the last step in the manuscript preparation process and is completed after the final revision. In addition to the consistency issues mentioned above, manuscript proofreading catches errors in grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting.

    If you can’t locate these errors yourself, consider receiving professional proofreading. English language editing services are adept at identifying and correcting all basic writing issues. In the case that your manuscript is partially accepted, eliminating objective errors limits the need for more minor revisions later on. It also leaves a better overall impression on journal reviewers.

    Reading through a paper free of grammar- and syntax-error speed bumps is a pleasure for most journal editors!

    While MS Word and some grammar and spell check programs will catch most common errors, (including abbreviation use, hyphenation, and spacing), they still miss others. Human proofreading services like Wordvice use expert academic editors who completely eliminate errors in the final document.

    Are your citations and references correctly formatted?

    Make sure to follow the correct style format of your target journal (APA, AMA, MLA, etc.). This applies both to your study’s references as well as to in-text citations. Manuscript formatting errors are considered minor issues. However, the more errors your manuscript contains, the more likely it is to be rejected due to poor language quality.

    AMA/APA citation generators can create somewhat accurate citations. But human editing can navigate the nuances of these and other academic style guides. Checking for plagiarism and properly paraphrasing academic writing are also best left to experts in your manuscript’s subject areas, not to generalist editors or manuscript editing software.

    Have you written a journal submission cover letter?

    Your manuscript cover letter can be written during the final stages of the drafting process. Or it can be written after your work has been fully edited. Either way, authors should learn how to write a journal submission cover letter to submit their work to journals.

  3. Responding to Editorial Feedback and Re-Submitting Your Manuscript

    The manuscript submission process involves several stages. After reviewing your writing, the journal editor forwards your text and an initial decision is made. This is similar to an initial peer review, but the editor will not usually provide quite as much feedback.

    During the journal decision-making process, your paper will be given an acceptance status:

    • Acceptance without any revisions (acceptance)
    • Acceptance after minor revisions are made (acceptance)
    • Acceptance after major revisions are made (conditional acceptance)
    • Revision and resubmission (conditional rejection)
    • Rejection with no chances to revise (outright rejection)

    If your manuscript receives conditional acceptance, then congrats—it is then time to revise some more!

    Before resubmitting a revised paper, you should address the editorial feedback given by the reviewers and journal editor. Revise your paper according to these suggestions and be careful not to overlook any details.

    close up of a microscope

    Receiving editing and proofreading for your manuscript improves your chances of journal publication.

  5. Revision Issues to Check Before Resubmitting to a Journal

    The degree to which you revise your manuscript will impact the reviewers’ final decision. Here are some steps to follow before submitting a paper for publication:

    1. Address all editorial feedback but making changes within the text

      The feedback journal reviewers provide is not a “rough guide.” Rather, the revised text should reflect the changes requested by the reviewers. Make sure that all issues mentioned by the reviewers have been fixed and/or addressed within the document.

    2. Check for consistency (again)

      Whenever you alter your manuscript, new writing issues can spring up. For instance, the journal editor instructs you to change some content in the Introduction section. But doing this might create unevenness if the corresponding revisions in other parts of the paper are not made.

      Other inconsistencies can include abbreviations and the order in which methods/results are presented.

    3. Run a final spell check (or proofread again if you have made major revisions)

      Getting English proofreading once more is a good idea if you have significantly altered your text.

    4. Ensure that all manuscript authors have approved the revisions

      Many journals require that all authors involved in the study give their approval of the final version of the manuscript. Learn more about authorship guidelines and other rules of publication ethics.

    Respond to all the comments of your journal editor (and revise accordingly)

    Manuscript authors should also compose a journal submission response letter (or rebuttal letter) that addresses all the issues mentioned by the reviewer. The response letter also allows authors to rebut or defend any feedback from the reviewers. However, rebuttals usually concern substantive content rather than language issues.

    When writing a journal response letter, use polite and formal language. Where you have disagreements, respond to reviewers respectfully. But use as much evidence and as many details as possible to support your argument.

  7. Using Manuscript Editing and Proofreading Services

    Many authors rely on professional editing services to revise their manuscripts before submission. The best journal manuscript editing services do not only proofread and edit for basic style and formatting issues. They also rephrase unnatural sentences and substitute awkward or non-academic terms.

    In the case of manuscript rejection or conditional acceptance, manuscripts must undergo additional editing as substantive revisions are made. Wordvice Premium Academic Editing Service provides all-in editing and proofreading, along with unlimited revisions for documents for up to one year. Premium editing allows authors to constantly re-upload their paper for editing while they revise.

    We assign your manuscript to a professional editor with subject expertise in your academic field. This expertise ensures that errors in key terms and even methodology will be caught before submission. Think of it as a mini peer review service: a dedicated professional academic editor who guarantees 100% satisfaction and language accuracy.

    Wordvice Editing Service offers 24-hour customer support and excellent service for all of our academic clients. To read more about our professional academic proofreading and editing services, including editing rates, visit our Professional Academic Editing Pricing page.