The benefits of copyediting

“Sanford Thatcher has written a valuable, if anecdotal, analysis of some papers residing on Harvard’s DASH repository (Copyediting’s Role in an Open-Access World, Against the Grain, volume 23, number 2, April 2011, pages 30-34), in an effort to get at the differences between author manuscripts and the corresponding published versions that have benefited from copyediting.


“What may we conclude from this analysis?” he asks. “By and large, the copyediting did not result in any major improvements of the manuscripts as they appear at the DASH site.” He finds that “the vast majority of changes made were for the sake of enforcing a house formatting style and cleaning up a variety of inconsistencies and infelicities, none of which reached into the substance of the writing or affected the meaning other than by adding a bit more clarity here and there” and expects therefore that the DASH versions are “good enough” for many scholarly and educational uses….”