At Jura Editorial Services we specialize in engaged editing. In this series of questions and answers, we discuss what engaged editing is and how it can help you assure the success of your publications and other knowledge products.
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What is engaged editing?
Engaged editing is a dialogue. Through dialogue writer and editor clarify the reasons for publishing and the purposes, points, and meanings of a publication. This dialogue can—and should—range widely, from choosing the appropriate product and media for sharing knowledge through assuring clarity and accuracy throughout a publication.
Engaged editing is a process. Engaged editing is a process designed to make progress. It starts with the writer’s goals and needs. Then, the editor, by reading critically, posing thought-provoking questions, and making suggestions, helps the writer make sure that the text is conceptually complete, logically organized, useful to the intended audiences, and clear in every respect.
Scientists of the human mind, philosophers, and writers themselves recognize that writing is a powerful means of extending the mind’s thinking capacity—“thinking through writing,” as Susan Horton phrased it.* Engaged editing is thinking through editing—not thinking alone, but with the guidance and help of an editor experienced in the process.
Engaged editing requires commitment. As the term suggests, engaged editing requires the full intellectual engagement of both writer and editor. Getting the most from engaged editing requires a joint commitment to participate fully in the dialogue—to ask and consider thoughtful questions and to agree on how they should be answered.
Making the commitment to participate in engaged editing includes recognizing that the dialogue, while it need not be prolonged, does require time. Engaged editing is not a hand-off from writer to editor, where one’s work ends and the other’s begins.
Engaged editing is challenging. Engaged editing requires writers to clarify their thinking, to welcome and respond positively to challenge, to resolve ambiguity, and to stay fully involved through to the point of production. It requires editors to think and act as if part of the writer’s organization or team, understanding that organization’s purposes and being fully responsible and committed to them.
What can engaged editing accomplish?
Here are examples from our work at Jura Editorial Services:
- Ready an article for submission to a scientific journal, making sure that all logical steps are apparent and that the findings are accurately described and thoughtfully discussed.
- Define and structure technical information and guidance into a handbook for easy reference on the job.
- Help turn scientific evidence into guidelines for health care providers.
- Make sure that guidelines are unambiguous, actionable, and documented with evidence.
- Create practical job aids and communication aids that operationalize technical guidance.
- Organize and structure training through in-depth revision of training materials.
- Find the overarching themes and tell the story of an organization based on documents written over its 10-year history.
- Structure concepts and experiences in a set of interconnected Web site pages.
English is not my first language. Can engaged editing help me?
Yes, engaged editing will help you express yourself in English. But engaged editing does more than make sure that the words appear in correct English. It also assures that your ideas and your thinking are correctly and clearly expressed. At Jura Editorial Services we work with clients all over the world.
* Horton SR. Thinking through writing. Baltimore and London, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.