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Do you need a proofreader? Test your skills!

If you're submitting a grant proposal, thesis or manuscript, it's a bit like baring your soul. These are your own ideas that you really want to be well-received – and rejection (and undue criticism) just feels horrible, even if it comes so often in the academic world.

That's why I'm here, though! I can proofread your material so you can avoid being judged on anything other than your brilliant ideas (not your skill in deciding whether to use 'the' or 'a').

But do you think you need a proofreader? Here is an abstract (modified from my own PhD thesis so I'm not embarrassing anyone), where I've inserted 18 errors – but how many can you spot? Most (not all) won't show up on Word's spell check or grammar check. The answers are listed underneath!






ANSWERS! Don't scroll down unless you're ready!

  1. In the first line, 'Paleolithic' is spelled without an 'a', whereas in the rest of the document it is spelled with the British spelling. Consistency is one key to appearing professional!

  2. Still in the first line, 'have' should agree with 'the identification' and be 'has'.

  3. There is a double space before 'This thesis...' - did you catch it?

  4. In the third line, 'though' should be 'through'. So easy to mistype, and spell check won't save you.

  5. In the fourth line, 'limitation' should be 'limitations'. It needs to be plural!

  6. In the fourth line, 'predict' should be 'predicts'. It needs third person agreement!

  7. In the sixth line, did you catch the two 'be's?

  8. The closing parenthesis is missing!

  9. In the eighth line, Theory of Mind has been capitalised here where it has not been elsewhere.

  10. In the eighth line, a sentence really starts to run on. We can replace ',' with ';' after the word 'gradient' in the ninth line to fix that.

  11. In the tenth line, 'no' should be 'not'.

  12. In the tenth and eleventh line, 'syntactic' is repeated - was something else meant in one of the cases?

  13. In the twelfth line, 'were' should be 'where'.

  14. Ok, this one is silly, but I just inserted it to show how our eyes play tricks on us. In the thirteenth line, 'snow' should be 'show'.

  15. In the thirteenth line, 'hand axes' has been written differently than 'handaxes' before it.

  16. In the fourteenth line, 'rang' should be 'range'.

  17. In the fifteenth line, 'lies' should be 'lie'.

  18. Finally... there is a period missing in the final sentence!

How many did you catch?

These errors can affect the readability of the piece, and being free of them allows the reviewer/assessor to concentrate more on the content than what the sentence is trying to say. In addition, and unfortunately, it is even more difficult to find errors in our own writing (we already know what the sentence is supposed to say, so our brain glosses over bits), even if we're quite good at spotting them in others' writing (so please excuse my Tweets with type-os).

So do get in touch with me if you need an expert eye to pass over your piece and make it as professional as it can be, while still retaining your own style. Make that content shine through, and let's get that grant/publication/passing grade!


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