An editing service’s website and emails are good indicators of the quality of its services. Do you see numerous language errors on a website or in marketing emails from an editing service? If you are not sure if there are excessive errors, ask a native-English speaking friend to look at the site. If a company doesn’t care about their public-facing Web page, will they care about your paper?

What turnaround times does Alum Canyon Editing offer?

That depends on the chosen time frame, the length of the manuscript, and the agreed-upon extent of editing.

Time frames vary from 72 hours from receipt for Level 1 proofreading projects under 5 pages, to 2 weeks for longer documents with more flexibility.

Because our turnaround times are in calendar days, not business days like some other editing services, our services do not take an unexpected extra 2 days. If a client expects and pays for 5-day turnaround, that is what they should get.

The editing time frame begins when the project is accepted, rather than when it is sent or received.  Any relevant academic or publication deadlines related to turnaround must be discussed in advance.

How should time zones be accommodated?

Please keep in mind the differences in time zones. Alum Canyon Editing is located in the US Pacific Time zone (UTC -8, or UTC -7 during daylight savings time), so times and dates are in Pacific Standard Time (PST) or Pacific Daylight Time (PDT – varies, but mainly during summer months).  Time zones in Asia can be about 16 hours ahead of the Pacific time zone. Timeanddate.com is a useful website for converting the due date and time to your time zone.

What does Alum Canyon Editing charge to edit a manuscript?

Editing fees depend on the language or editing level, turnaround time, and document length of each project.

Alum Canyon Editing charges per-page instead of per-word, and documents are evaluated in standard format: 12-point font, double-spaced lines, and 1-inch margins. A page in this format contains an average of 300 words. This approach ensures consistent estimates and accounts for the fact that ideas are expressed in sentences, not in isolated words. It also accounts for the fact that sentences might need to be redrafted and the document might need to be reorganized.

As an example, the fee for editing a partial 20-page Level 3 document (without references) with a 14-day turnaround and a 10% new client discount would be $360.00 at one possible current rate. Firm quotes are given upon review of the document submitted for an estimate.

Rates for each editing level and turnaround time are subject to change in the future at the Editor’s discretion.

Figures are not included in page counts.

Level 3 service for partial manuscripts (including, for example, only main text and figure legends) includes one recheck prior to submission to a journal. Pages not included in the original estimate would be edited for an additional per-page fee.

If the manuscript is complete (includes title page, main text, figure legends, tables, table captions, references, and all accompanying documents), this service includes continuing re-editing if requested within 180 days from the original due date. Correspondence with the journal and responses to reviewers are also included in the Complete Level 3 editing service for no additional fee.

Keep in mind that many editing services do not offer continuing revision for a single fee and will charge a new fee each time the same manuscript is checked for any reason and do not offer editing of responses to reviewers. Level 3 service for complete manuscripts avoids additional fees.

Are there discounts for new clients?


All new clients receive a 10% discount from standard rates for any level of service on their first project. Special discounts, often associated with scientific meetings, are also offered occasionally.

Are there discounts for frequent customers?


Further projects received from an author within one calendar year from the most recent project will enjoy a continuing 10% discount from the standard rate for Complete Level 3 services.  This discount covers editing projects from members of a single lab or group of individuals who publish together.

Are there discounts for existing clients who refer new customers to Alum Canyon Editing?


Referrals to new clients (who are not research colleagues or students) that result in completed projects (agreement, editing, payment) result in a permanent 10% discount for the referring client, effective upon completion of the new client’s first project.  Total referral discounts are limited to 10%.

If you have referred a new client to Alum Canyon Editing, simply so indicate in an email, and the appropriate discounts will be applied to your next project after completion of the referred project.

Alum Canyon Editing sincerely appreciates thanks from clients, and especially referrals by our happy clients, and hopes to continue to earn your trust.

How is confidentiality handled?

All information, including but not limited to authors’ contact information, scientific data, and document contents, regarding any materials submitted to this company for editing will be maintained in strict confidence and will not be divulged to any third party.

No materials will be duplicated except as reasonably necessary to perform editorial services for clients of Alum Canyon Editing, LLC.

No materials submitted for editing will be used for any other commercial purpose, including advertising or editing samples for prospective clients, unless with the corresponding author’s express written permission.

Does Alum Canyon Editing require acknowledgment?


Alum Canyon Editing does not typically request acknowledgment in publications, but authors are free to acknowledge our assistance with manuscript preparation if they wish.

How are estimates obtained and manuscripts submitted for editing?

Please contact me by email via the Contact page or directly to discuss specific current rates, turnaround times, and confidentiality arrangements for editing.

Manuscripts may be submitted by either the contact form, direct email, or other arrangement, such as DropBox or a private server, for review. A cost estimate will be provided prior to start of work, and editing will begin after terms are agreed upon.

How are fees submitted for editing projects?

Please contact the editor by email or via the Contact page to discuss options for fee payment.

In general, payments via PayPal, or direct deposits or checks drawn on US banks are accepted from US individuals, companies, and universities. For Authors residing outside the US, payment is accepted via PayPal, electronic wire transfer, or International Postal Money Orders (IPMO), which are available in certain countries (see Which Countries at the USPS website). Other payment options are being considered.

All fees are due and payable prior to return of edited work.

Does Alum Canyon Editing provide translation services?

Not at the moment.

However, Alum Canyon Editing has long-time professional connections with respected companies that can translate scientific documents to and from several languages including Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Please ask for a referral if needed.

Does Alum Canyon Editing edit theses and dissertations?

Alum Canyon Editing accepts theses and dissertations for editing on a case-by-case basis, so please inquire. The minimal factors considered include the location of the student’s university, whether there may be any conflicts of interest, and the topic area of the manuscript.

Theses and dissertations on agricultural, biological, biomedical, computing, engineering, and other science topics have been accepted for editing.

The Managing Editor will also edit manuscripts that form a chapter of a thesis or dissertation if they are forwarded with the knowledge of the senior author of the manuscript or the student’s supervisor and will be submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Academic institutions in Australia, but not in many other countries, permit or even require language assistance for preparation of an entire thesis or dissertation.

The time frames for editing thesis or dissertation projects can range from 7 days to 3 months, depending on when materials are received, the number of pages per section, and whether a recheck is requested.

University-specific format requirements are only addressed upon request, and will add significantly to the cost of the editing project.

If you are seeking an editor for your thesis or dissertation, please contact Alum Canyon Editing with a sample chapter to receive a specific per-page quote.

What is a native English-language editor? What is a native language-editing expert?

A native-language speaker, writer, or editor has learned, spoken, and written a language since childhood as their mother tongue. A native language-editing expert has both experience with a language from early childhood and formal training in writing and editing in that language.

Authors should be aware that some editing services use editors with no formal training in science, English, or editing, and whose primary native language is not English.

What does certification mean?

That depends on the certification.

Some certificates mean that the editor paid for membership and passed a test. It does not mean that they have substantial editing experience. It also does not mean they are a native-English speaker or an English-language expert. It also does not mean they have scientific experience. Other certificates, such as the Professional Sequence in Editing at UC Berkeley Extension, require extensive coursework and practice, with minimum grades required for receiving the certificate. However, there are many very experienced and qualified editors who are not certified by any external authorities.

Does using an editor who has a PhD improve your chances of manuscript acceptance?

Not necessarily.

Some editing services imply that using an editor with a PhD will improve your chances of publication, which may not be a sound assumption. Even more importantly, an editor with a PhD might have professional responsibilities other than language editing, such as research, teaching, or working for a journal. Is your manuscript likely to be their highest priority?

Some editing companies post photos of working scientists who have edited documents for them on a freelance basis. Note that many of these freelance editors are also employed full-time at academic or other institutions or companies. Is your manuscript likely to be their highest priority?

Does using an editor who works for the journal to which you are submitting your manuscript improve the chance of your manuscript being accepted?

It shouldn’t.

Some freelance editors use work that was produced for a university or publisher, such as research article summaries, journalistic pieces, or blog posts, to advertise their freelance editing services. What do you think?

It’s probably not the best idea. Some freelancers do use work produced for their main employer to promote their freelance editing business.

It is an unethical practice and the employer should probably consider it a conflict of interest or violation of copyright or confidentiality. These pieces can be a good indicator of an editor’s writing, but writing is not editing. Mostly, clients should also wonder whether freelance editors with other full-time work responsibilities can focus adequately on editing the client’s manuscript. Again, is your manuscript likely to be their highest priority?

Does my editor need to be an expert in the subject of my research paper?

Not necessarily, but it doesn’t hurt.

Experience performing scientific research in the lab or in the field and experience performing literature research is absolutely essential for editing scientific manuscripts. Although subject-matter expertise is no substitute for English language expertise, editors without a scientific background will certainly not be able to provide the highest quality English editing for scientific manuscripts.

What is an expert scientific editor?

Sometimes a person with a PhD in a specific field or research topic can become an expert scientific editor. Other times, a person with a lot of experience performing research and working in laboratories can become an expert scientific editor.

How to choose?

Consider: Is a PhD who spent a few years working in a laboratory on one topic really an expert scientific editor? Is someone who never thought about any research projects but their own an expert in science or scientific editing? Is someone who never ran a lab an expert in science or scientific editing?

Alum Canyon Editing designed and performed plant biology research as an undergraduate and graduate student in plant biology and genetics (including population genetics) then managed animal and plant genetics, molecular genetics, and biochemistry laboratories (including writing and editing manuscripts for publication) for more than 17 years. Experience with the nitty-gritty details of research makes an editor who is excellent at spotting technical errors and scientific issues in addition to language errors.

Whom would you choose?

Should my editor have experience with scientific research?

Yes – absolutely. But many companies use editors who are not trained at all in science or scientific writing.

Does Alum Canyon Editing subcontract to other editing companies or freelance editors?


Clients of Alum Canyon Editing expect to know who is editing their manuscript and to know that the editor is qualified. If a project cannot be accepted for any reason, Alum Canyon Editing will only refer clients to other established, reputable companies that are known to the Managing Editor and that have dedicated, scientifically trained or subject-area native language editors capable of editing or translating scientific documents.

Inquiries regarding freelancing or subcontracting for or with Alum Canyon Editing will receive no response.

Which style standards can Alum Canyon Editing follow?

The Managing Editor is familiar with and subscribes to style standards including the 8th edition of the Council of Science Editors Scientific Style and Format Manual, the Chicago Manual of Style, the American Chemical Society Style Guide, the American Medical Association Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association Publication Manual. Journal-specific editing style is available with Level 3 Complete editing services.

Some editing companies only provide a single level of editing service. What do you think?

Sounds like those companies are not interested in tailoring their services to their clients’ needs.

Some editing companies offer only a single editing level (described as “comprehensive”) as it is easier to charge per-word fees than to carefully evaluate a manuscript and provide several possible estimates for the appropriate level of editing tailored to a client’s wishes.

At any editing level, Alum Canyon Editing exercises the same high degree of care with every document. Whether proofing an abstract or intensively editing a complex or lengthy manuscript, Alum Canyon Editing always provides the highest quality services. Alum Canyon Editing has even re-edited manuscripts that authors have paid to have edited by other editing companies.

Will Alum Canyon Editing submit my manuscript to the journal?


There are editing services that claim or imply that they will submit your article to a journal on your behalf. Submitting a manuscript requires the submitter to make statements regarding academic integrity, so the vast majority of journals require a corresponding author to submit a manuscript and to correspond directly with the managing editor.

Please use caution before submitting your work to journals that permit third parties to submit the work of others for review, or before using editing services that claim to do so.

There are also editing services that imply that they can assist with the publication process, even though only publishers and reviewers control whether a manuscript is accepted for publication. Only pre-publication processes up to but not including submission are under the combined control of the author and the language editor.

Should an editing company draft extensive original content (write), draw conclusions, or analyze data for authors of scientific manuscripts?


What do language-editing companies have to do with a journal’s impact factor?

Essentially nothing.

Some editing companies publish the impact factors of journals on their Web pages as though that has anything to do with the quality of editing services they provide. Please be aware that this is simply a marketing tactic, not an indicator of the quality of editing provided by those companies. Major science journals, including the top five, publish language errors every day, mostly because they have cut copy-editing staff.

Impact factor is an important consideration, but a journal’s target field of research is probably more important in the long run. Many authors prefer to publish in journals they know are read by their research-area peers. Such journals may have fewer readers, and thus lower impact factors, but still publish novel and important research.

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© Wildlife photograph copyright 2007 Tim Zurowski. All rights reserved.