Checking facts during editing
I'm wondering: How many of you actually work with
editors who check facts as well as writing?
As a professional scientific and technical editor, for many years I considered that an important part of my job was to check the technical accuracy of what I edited, at least to the extent that I could do so. I recall quite clearly being shocked to discover that other editors did not consider that to be part of their jobs, and then delighted to discover that some organisations specifically write "fact checking" into the job description for a technical editor. Here are some job advertisements that I've collected over the past 5 years:
In software houses, the "fact checking" usually involves testing the procedures and what I call "is the help helpful?" checking. At times, what I did was criticised for duplicating the efforts of other people whose job it was to check the facts, but in most of those cases the truth was either than the other people didn't get around to doing that part of their job, or they did it badly. Fortunately, I worked in places where my efforts were recognised and appreciated by management.
How long does it take them, compared to checking writing?
This page may give some clues:
The "full substantive heavy edit" (not necessarily including rewriting) would fit this situation reasonably well, but it includes writing as well as facts, so you might look at the "medium edit" level instead.
At what point in the development cycle does the editor start
It depends on how much of a moving target the facts are, and what the alleged review cycle is. Often I try to do this sort of work in bits and pieces, as the chapters or other units of writing are completed. Another way is concurrent with the SME reviews, or at the times when you would normally do them (if they are not happening).
And how well does it work? For
example, how much additional fact checking is required
before the documents go out the door?
Depends on the quality of the writer's work, the skill and product knowledge of the editor, how well the two people work together, and how much the product itself changes at the last minute. If the writer and editor see each other as an ally, the process works very well. When I'm working as a writer, I value my editors very much and find their input indispensable (especially when I *hate* what they says, which is usually picking up something I'd hoped no one would notice <g>). I do take responsibility for any remaining errors in the document, but I think that all writing can be improved by competent editing.
Jean Hollis Weber
jean -at- jeanweber -dot- com
The Technical Editors' Eyrie http://www.jeanweber.com/
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