Am I going to run out of commas before I finish this proofread?
April 5, 2019 6:49 PM   Subscribe

EditorFilter: I'm hip-deep in dissertation proofreading for a very interesting academic paper. However, the author (non-native English speaker, although fluent) frequently uses the construct "...investigate the significance of X, and the associations between,...". What is the name of this construct, and how can I reconstruct the intention of the phrase with fewer words? The authors are submitting to a major journal with an absolute word count.
posted by catlet to Education (7 answers total)
 
Least interventionist would seem to be "investigate the significance of and associations between X."
posted by lazuli at 6:56 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Fewest words might be something like, "...analyze X."
posted by lazuli at 6:57 PM on April 5


Is this a field you know about? One thing I’ve learned in over twenty years of technical copy editing is that there can be specific reasons for wording that authors use. I don’t think your question as posed is answerable, though I’m sure lots of people will answer it.
posted by FencingGal at 7:16 PM on April 5 [13 favorites]


Do you mean they frequently use the construction "do the x of y, and the z of q" or are they literally frequently talking about investigating one thing and analysing its associations with another? If the latter, you have a bigger problem than phrasing. Either the structure of the paper is making them repeat themselves in redundant ways, or they are discussing too many different investigations for a single paper.

If it's the former, then it's hard to advise without a few more examples.
posted by lollusc at 7:18 PM on April 5


ETA: As an example of why this isn’t answerable, if by “significance,” the author means statistical significance, there’s no replacement for that word. If something else is meant, the journal I currently work for would insist on different wording.
posted by FencingGal at 7:23 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


I contacted the client and explained that other words would be cut to keep the phrase. I asked if this was a specific expectation for the field.

Verbatim answer: "Oh, my mother used those words all the time and I just like how it looks and sounds. It doesn't really have significance except it's pretty, but I try to put it in everything and the editors always take it out."

[sound of catlet bonking her head on the desk]

Marking this resolved, but also filed in my personal WTF folder.
posted by catlet at 8:03 PM on April 5 [27 favorites]


"Oh, my mother used those words all the time and I just like how it looks and sounds. It doesn't really have significance except it's pretty, but I try to put it in everything and the editors always take it out."

I've had some wtfery from clients before, but I think you win. Should we ever be in the same geographic region, ice cream's on me. And since I have social phobia and panic disorder and am terrified of all you people, that's saying something about the level of wtfery here.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 10:08 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


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