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Blog: Problematic Proofing

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You find me today up to my EYEBALLS in PROOFS. Not proofs of POLITICAL CORRUPTION nor of SPACE LIZARD CONSPIRACIES, but - even more excitingly - of Academical Research.

For LO! After spending a good chunk of last year WRITING various books, book chapters and articles I have spent the last couple of months PROOF-READING a whole heap of them. I would say that this was the main reason that I haven't done much blogging of late, but I must admit I have also been investing time in Christmas, Watching Telly and also Peterborough United!

However, it is true to say that re-reading and correcting this stuff has taken a LOT of effort and time. This was especially the case for the BOOK of my PhD, which has been a TORTUROUS process. It had already taken many YEARS to get it done - not just doing the actual PhD itself, but then re-jigging it for the book, then re-re-jigging it and writing a whole new CHUNK after the peer-reviews, then doing various re-writes myself to get it sparkly and ready to roll. After that though I thought it would all be plain sailing. All that was required was for it to be typeset and then for me to have a quick glance over to make sure it all looked OK and then we were AWAY for publication and plaudits.

That is NOT what happened. The proofs came back to me in December and almost immediately I realised something had gone Very Wrong Indeed. The first chapter I read through was suddenly LITTERED with commas, as if the old spellchecker from Windows 3.1 had made a ton of "suggestions" and someone had just clicked "ACCEPT ALL". To begin with I thought it was just Publication style, so that for instance any sentence that started with e.g. "Thus I went and did something clever" would be changed to "Thus, I went and did something clever" which ALL RIGHT I suppose I could handle but then EVERY opportunity for a comma was used so that, it sounded, like, it was, being, written by, someone, completely out of, breath. The most EGREGIOUS example was when a sentence was changed from "Later chapters will show (something dead clever)" to "Later, chapters will show (something dead clever)" which makes it sound DERANGED.

I spent a couple of FURIOUS days going through like this, coming to HATE this OPUS what I had wrote before deciding to just GIVE UP and ask them to have another go. It took me a while to get to this point because I had heard stories of people having to deal with similar issues, but eventually I realised that this was WAY more than usual - it helped that I had also had proofs for a book chapter too the same week which was LOADS better, so I knew this wasn't normal.

Happily for me the publishers were fine with it and the proof-reading company DID have another go so that I was eventually able to get the latest version sent off a couple of weeks ago. All of this means publication has been delayed, probably until early March now, but it's at least back in progress. When it finally DOES come out though I shall be PANICKING about any errors that I still missed, even after all these goes!

posted 18/1/2024 by MJ Hibbett

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posted 22/1/2024 by

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