The Secret Sauce of Academic Writing

Rose Ernst
May 8, 2019 · 2 min read
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Developmental editing.

Simple? Yes.

Does it cost money? Yes.

Is it worth it?

Answer: How much is your scholarly productivity worth? Your sense of ease?

I didn’t discover developmental editors until after graduate school. After tenure. I can only imagine how much less anxious and stressed I would have been had I found them earlier.

Developmental editing provides feedback about the structure, organization, narrative, argument, evidence, and so forth about your article or book.

Depending on the editor, they may provide consulting and coaching as well if you’re struggling with your writing.

Why hire an academic developmental editor?

Here are five reasons.

1. Clean and useful feedback

“Clean” means the editor’s goal is to provide useful feedback, not to promote their own theoretical perspective. A developmental editor’s primary aim is to improve the article for publication. While colleagues may offer you useful feedback, it is often from their own scholarly perspective.

2. Accompaniment

You’ve completed the first chapter of your book.


Now what?

Let it sit and work on the next chapter?

You could do that. Or, you could send it to your developmental editor. The can edit it while you’re working on something else. Doesn’t it feel good to know your work is progressing while you’re sipping sangria on the porch?

3. Writing momentum

You’ve sent the first chapter to your editor. They’ll return it to you in four weeks.

That four-week deadline fuels your desire to finish the next chapter. Then you’ll be ready to work on the edited chapter in four weeks. And then send your editor something new!

This is the magic of writing momentum.

4. Other writers hire editors

I think academics overlook this fact. I’m not sure why. Perhaps its because higher education institutions often encourage a scarcity mindset.

Journalists have editors.

Fiction authors have editors.

Popular non-fiction writers have editors.

Why don’t we?

5. Validation

I use this word with caution. You don’t need an editor to tell you your article is ready for publication.

But have you ever sat on an article (forever) because of fear? I have.

Those neglected and lost articles can take a toll on your psyche. They’re mental clutter.

Sometimes, we just need someone to read our article and give us some constructive (not harmful) feedback so we can hit “send.”

A developmental editor will be happy to give you the gentle nudge you need to share your brilliance with the world.

Dr. Rose Ernst is an academic editor and consultant who loves to support scholars in sharing their brilliance with the world. Find her at Sign up for her email list here.

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