Editing is beyond the process of proofreading (a surface level check of spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes), and covers the core of the writing. This involves adjusting sentence syntax/structure, coherency of ideas, academic tone and conciseness/clarity. It is typically done on every draft version of an academic paper. Since the nature of an academic paper is strictly formal, it would help to mind the words you use and always try to be consistent with expressing your ideas with scientific or academic wording. Once the draft is complete, the following elements are checked during the editing process.
This involves carefully checking one sentence at a time and ensuring the structure is correct in a grammatical sense. The active voice is typically recommended, but occasional use of the passive voice is fine as well. The two most common sentence issues are long run-on sentences and sentence fragments.
Academic wording and tone:
This involves replacing common words with more scientific or academic terminology. It is recommended to use key terms and phrases from your background area or discipline. It should be formal rather than read out in novel-style informal writing.
Clarity and conciseness:
Sentences should be clear, straightforward, and to the point. Your readers are interested to know about the main ideas, and so your message should be as clear as possible to avoid the reader becoming distracted with unclear sentences. Make sure to keep sentences as simple and concise as possible. This is preferred over long run-on sentences by readers who are interested to read your research.
Coherency and flow of ideas:
Ideas should flow in a coherent manner, from sentence to sentence, and also from paragraph to paragraph. Rather than mixing multiple ideas at a time, it is easier on the reader to discuss one idea at a time. This ensures that your content is coherent, and readers can easily read and digest each idea at a time.
If English is your second language, it is strongly advised to have your paper checked by a professional editor before you send it out for publication. This would guarantee that your paper is well-written and gets the message across to researchers in the best way possible.