English editing, consulting and proofreading for the exact sciences
 
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    Complaints

    We do our utmost to ensure that by the time we have completed our work, the reviewers of your paper will have no reason to complain about poor English. However, in a very small number of cases, something does go wrong. In the event that you have reason to be dissatisfied with our service, we encourage you to let us know what happened. That way, we will be able to help you and, perhaps, provide a better service to others.

    There are a couple of things that it may be worth your while to consider before you contact us: (i) what can go wrong, and (ii) what characteristically does go wrong.

    What can go wrong:

    1. Some errors or infelicities of style might remain once we have completed our work. While we do our utmost to ensure that this does not happen, even the best editors sometimes do not catch every error. This is especially the case when the editing is difficult and there are a lot of corrections to be made. In this context, please bear in mind that a great many published papers do contain a small number of errors and/or infelicities of style, despite the best efforts of everybody (English editors, authors, and journal Editors) to eliminate them.
    2. Authors might inadvertently reintroduce errors, or introduce new errors, when they are revising their text in response to our suggested corrections and comments.
    3. Reviewers sometimes overstate the case with respect to the quality of English, particularly when dealing with manuscripts written by non-native English speakers. They recommend that the author seek the services of a professional edtiing service when there are only a small number of minor errors that could quite easily be dealt with in-house by the publisher and are within the levels of tolerance for published papers.
    4. Reviewers sometimes complain about the English when the problem does not lie with English at all, but with logic and clarity of thought. There are a number of ways in which a paper can be written poorly, and poor English is only one of them. However, reviewers sometimes do not distinguish between these different ways and attribute all problems of poor writing to poor English.
    What characteristically does go wrong:

    Since 2001, our companies (Cambridge Language Consultants, Genedits, and Editing for Business) have edited over 2500 papers. As of the end of July 2011, we had received eight complaints. In one of these cases, we were clearly at fault and we re-redited the paper free of charge. In two cases, the reviewers had overstated their case considerably: in one paper I could find no actual errors (though the style could have been better) and in the other I found only four minor errors. In each of these cases, we re-edited the paper free of charge as a gesture of good will, but apart from correcting the four minor errors, we made only cosmetic changes to the text. In one case, the reviewer had compained about poor English when the problem actually lay with logic and clarity of thought. In this case, we fixed the problems as best we could, but were unable to guarantee that we had fixed all of them completely because we had to ask the authors for clarification about their intended meaning in a number of places. In the other four cases, the authors had introduced a significant amount of error while they were making their revisions. In these cases, we charged the authors for fixing the manuscript.

    In light of the foregoing, we have two complaints procedures: informal and formal. Please note that our complaints procedure applies only to the original version of the paper that you submitted. We will not consider your complaint if you send us a version that has already been revised in response to reviewers' comments.

    Informal complaints procedure:

    As you will have gathered, the likelihood that we are at fault is very small (though not, of course, zero.) If you are not entirely sure who is at fault, the best thing to do is to simply send us the version of the paper that you submitted and inform us of what the reviewers and journal Editor said. Then we will go through the paper again. If we find just a few errors and fixing them takes only a few minutes, we will fix them free of charge. If there are a significant number of errors and they take some time to fix, we will charge you at a rate of GBP43.90 per hour.

    Formal complaints procedure:

    Handling a formal complaint is much more labour-intensive for us and you should make one only if you are sure that we are at fault.

    If you wish to make a formal complaint you should send us the following:
    • The exact version of your paper that you submitted to the journal
    • Reviewers' comments that specify their grounds for complaint in some detail. ("The manuscript contains errors in spelling and grammar" is informative and helpful, whereas "There are mistakes throughout the manuscript" is not.)
    When we receive your complaint, we will do the following:
    1. Compare the version that you submitted with the version that we returned to you.
    2. Assess whether or not we are at fault*.
    3. Fix any errors that we find in your original submitted version.
    4. Prepare a brief report that informs you of our findings.

    In the interests of objectivity, your complaint will be handled by the owner of the company, who is responsible for determining and maintaining standards for editing and who will not have been involved in the initial editing of your paper.

    If we find that we were at fault, we will, of course, fix errors free of charge. If we find that we were not at fault, we will charge you at a rate of GBP43.90 per hour for the entire procedure of handling your complaint, including the assessment and the re-editing.

    * When determining whether or not we are at fault, we will use the standard of English in published articles as a guide. It is commonplace for published articles to contain a small number of minor errors and infelicities of style. Poor style is particularly common in articles in the exact and social sciences. Please note that determining whether or not we were at fault is not an exact science. There is no clear point of demarcation. However, please also note that it is in our interests to deliver to you a high-quality product, so it does not help us at all if we determine that we were not at fault when we were. We will err on the side of deciding that we were at fault, rather than that we were not.

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