Friday, 29 June 2007

One for copyeditors

I have to be back at work for today, so Ermintrude is looking after Shark, Squirrel and Tiger at the park.

First up, the corrections sent in last month by Author X in response to my list of queries on the references in their book. The references were torture. To copyedit and typeset this lot I waded my way through about 300 of them, all out of order, and none in standard style requested for submisson. Here are two that came through:

Janet rothbury & James Weston lake et al. 1992. Developing critical literacy. James Unworth., CUP (Teaching Language Worldwide) Cambridge. 231-241. pp

Rothbury, Janet Mary. (1990). Literacy principles. Cambrisde, Mass. Harvard UP. [reprinted ISBN 9671-98556-21 ed Burns]

The first glance at these, and the other hundreds like them, tells me Author X is an idle git who cannot be bothered to put his references in order. He expects someone else to do it. Perhaps he is too great, and got a PhD student to do it, but the PhD student was too lazy, or lied, and so it lands on my desk. But I still have to get his refs into publisher's style:

Rothbury, J. M., Weston Lake, J. et al. (1992) Developing critical literacy. In J. Unworth (ed.) Book title 231-41. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rothbury, J. (1990) Literacy Principles. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Now, information is missing like the 'et al.' and book title. Or information is confusing, like the status of 'Lake' - is it a surname or forename? Then there's the confusion over Rothbury's name. Are they the same author? Or two people who just happen to share the same name? The confusion needs to be cleared to I can order the refs correctly. Then there is extra information, like series titles, or reprint information, which may not be included in the references.

So I do as much cleaning up as possible. But at some point I ask Author X for clarification.

You might think Author X would be grateful that someone in an office somewhere in central England is doing the work they couldn't be bothered to do, so their book can be published in time for their RAE professional assessment, and from that they can get their recognition, promotion and, of course, their royalties. You might think Author X could see how much cleaning work has been done, and assist with the last sweep.

Not a bit of it. Here is just a selection of some of the actual responses I got from Author X to my questions about the following authors...

J? J is only name given; no further info available
Butlers - I don't care
Frith - can't see what clarification is needed
Grigory - is this you John?
Hallan - yes
Hopkin -no further info to hand
Idime - why?
Jenkin - stop asking about series titles
Keel - ridiculous question
Natim - what is the problem???
Nartim - 2000a change to 2000a
Nartim - I won't answer this anymore
Stiglin - Nothing to clarify
Propper - dunno
van Leeu - fadded

Well, Author X, I have something more important to do right now than correct your references. Like the ironing. I'm sorry your book won't make it in time for your RAE exercise. And perhaps your recognition will come in due course.

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