Self-editing: The pros and cons of editing your own research paper

by Elizabeth Oommen George
Self-editing: The pros and cons of editing your own research paper

Writing and editing research papers can be a daunting task for most researchers across the world. A 2018 global survey revealed that 76% of research authors struggled to prepare a polished, well-written manuscript for journal submission.1 Academic writing and self-editing requires the ability to effectively construct coherent arguments and an understanding of the nuances of academic writing. Researchers also need to possess a good knowledge of the English language, including grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting styles. Most importantly, they need to edit and proofread research papers to ensure that it is error-free, engaging, impactful and submission ready.

Researchers need to put in a lot of time and effort in editing research papers. However, setting aside enough time for polishing and self-editing can be difficult for time-constrained academics juggling several tasks and deadlines. Given the financial benefits, some researchers seek out professional editing support, while others decide to give self-editing a try. The final decision between engaging professional editing services and self-editing often depends on a number of variables, including personal preferences, financial limits, time restraints, and the desired degree of quality. This article helps you makes the decision by examining the advantages and disadvantages of self-editing your research paper.

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What is self-editing?

Most researchers tend to do some self-editing while they write — correcting language and grammar, including spelling and punctuation errors, adding or deleting sentences, and restructuring paragraphs and flow. So in a way self-editing is part of the process of developing and preparing research papers for submission. However, if you’re looking at editing research papers more comprehensively, then you need to take a break before you start self-editing. By taking this mental break, you’ll be more prepared for effective self-editing that helps you eliminate errors and enhance your work for submission.

Advantages of self-editing research papers

When self-editing, researchers are free to review and edit their manuscripts as they see fit and consequently, are able to fully control the process of editing research papers. Self-editing also allows researchers to perfect their academic writing abilities, improve the way their research is presented, and ensure that their arguments are coherently and cohesively communicated. Furthermore, self-editing can be both encouraging and satisfying as researchers can take complete ownership of their research paper and are able to directly mould it into its final version.

Disadvantages of self-editing and proofreading

However, researchers must also know that self-editing comes with its own limitations. For instance, academics may become too attached to their research work, which makes it difficult for them to spot errors or areas that require improvement in their own writing. They may also be blind to any biases that may have unwittingly crept into their academic writing. Moreover, self-editing relies solely on the author’s expertise, which means it may not be a good choice for researchers that are not conversant with the English language or don’t have a strong understanding of grammar, punctuation, and formatting rules. In such cases, researchers may struggle to communicate and present complex ideas, methodologies, and results in an accurate, easy to understand way. Without the assistance of a professional editing service, it can be challenging for authors to meet the high standards expected in academic writing.

Benefits and drawbacks of professional editing services

Although professional editing may come at a price, it offers several advantages. An experienced editor brings a fresh set of eyes and a trained perspective to the research paper which allows them to objectively spot errors, inconsistencies, and ambiguous arguments. Professional editing not only ensures the research paper adheres to academic writing conventions, citation formats, and appropriate style, but the editors also provide valuable suggestions to improve structure, flow, and coherence. On the other hand, not all professional editing services provide subject-specific expertise, which may affect the quality of feedback and editing provided. Professional editing is usually expensive, time-consuming, and involves a lot of back-and-forth between researchers and editors. This could result in a feeling of insecurity about the privacy of their research or a loss of control over their work. Hence, it is essential for authors to select reputable professional editing services and clearly communicate their expectations to ensure a productive editing experience.

When deciding between professional editing or self-editing your work, it helps to start with a checklist of expectations; what you want when editing research papers to ensure it is engaging and impactful. Ultimately, researchers need to evaluate their resources, time constraints, and individual needs to determine the most suitable way to edit and proofread their research papers. It may also be a good idea to explore AI academic writing tools such as Paperpal. Tailored to assist researchers from the first draft itself, Paperpal goes beyond language, spelling and grammar checks to include instant translation support, rewriting, word reduction, contextual synonym suggestions, consistency checks, and more that makes self-editing research papers a breeze.


  1. Author Perspectives on Academic Publishing: Global Survey Report 2018, Editage. Available at

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