The importance of copyediting a scientific paper
D. J. Bernstein
2005.05.04
``Copyediting, proofing, reference checking, formatting of images,
tables and data sets, and other functions performed by publishers add
real value to manuscripts,'' says a typical publisher.
Several weeks ago I send a paper to a publisher, Springer-Verlag. Today
I receive a revised version of the paper from Springer. Let's see what
value has been added to my manuscript by Springer's copyediting.
One set of changes is predictable. I don't capitalize titles except for
the first word. Springer insists on capitalizing almost all title words.
Apparently big bold titles with only one capital are much more difficult
to spot than big bold titles with two or three capitals. That's also why
the title of the first section should be changed from ``Introduction''
to ``Introductory Comments.'' This adds real value to the manuscript.
The first change that surprises me is at the top of the first page. I
originally put the title onto one line:
The Poly1305-AES message-authentication code
Daniel J. Bernstein
Springer decides to split the title before the hyphen:
The Poly1305-AES Message
-Authentication Code
Daniel J. Bernstein
Wow, that's really valuable for the reader. Thanks, Springer.
I next notice that Springer has changed my theorems in Section 3---
Theorems 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3---to Theorems 1, 2, and 3. Gee, thanks,
Springer. As a reader I _love_ it when I'm looking for Theorem 3.2 and
find a theorem labelled as 2 instead of 3.2. Really adds confidence that
I've found the right theorem. I love it even more when a paper says
Theorem 2 and someone cites Theorem 2 and I have no idea which section
to skim through. Really saves time.
Springer also makes random changes to the spacing between words in
several paragraphs. Here's one of my paragraphs:
-----
There are several reasons that Poly1305-AES uses nonces. First, comparable
protocols without nonces have security bounds that look like C(C+D)L/2^{106}
rather than DL/2^{106}---here C is the number of messages authenticated by the
sender, D is the number of forgery attempts, and L is the maximum message
length---and thus cannot be used with confidence for large C. Second, nonces
allow the invocation of AES to be carried out in parallel with most of the other
operations in Poly1305-AES, reducing latency in many contexts. Third, most
protocols have nonces anyway, for a variety of reasons: nonces are required for
secure encryption, for example, and nonces allow trivial rejection of replayed
messages.
-----
Springer drastically reduces the spacing on the third line and shifts
words from subsequent lines. The reduction is enough to make words seem
to run together, but not enough to actually fit another word onto the
third line, so the last word ends up poking into the right margin:
-----
There are several reasons that Poly1305-AES uses nonces. First, comparable
protocols without nonces have security bounds that look like C(C+D)L/2^{106}
rather than DL/2^{106}---here C is the number of messages authenticated by the sender,
D is the number of forgery attempts, and L is the maximum message length---
-----
Another highly valuable improvement for the reader. Thanks, Springer.
Springer also uses slightly longer pages than it announced in its public
``llncs'' information. My original paper has twelve graphs split across
two pages, followed by two carefully placed notes. The change in page
length means that there is extra space below the first six graphs---
which I might not notice if it weren't for Springer _moving_ my notes
_above_ all the graphs, bumping the first six graphs down into the extra
space. Gee, thanks, Springer. You're really promoting the progress of
science. I don't know what I'd do without you and your expert editing.
Last, and quite clearly least, Springer changes commas to dashes inside
citations. For example, at one point I write ``[31, Section 3]'' to cite
Section 3 of the 31st paper in the bibliography. Springer changes this
to ``[31--Section 3].'' Thanks, Springer. I'm amazed at how much value
you've added. Is there any way I can arrange for universities to send
you more money to fund this incredible service?
To discover all these valuable changes, I have to spend a few hours
carefully comparing my paper to Springer's paper, line by line. Springer
never sends me a list. Obviously they don't want to spoil my fun. Once
I'm done, I send email to Springer telling them how much I appreciate
these changes. Thanks, Springer.
Perhaps Springer will make other valuable changes to my manuscript---but
I'll have to wait for the printed version before I can admire those
changes. The first round of changes took several weeks, as you'd guess
from the complexity of the changes; Springer wants to meet a particular
deadline; so there's no time left for Springer to send me anything else.
Too bad. I'm really looking forward to seeing how much more value
Springer can add to my manuscript. But, even if there are no more
changes, I'm so happy with the changes so far that I feel compelled to
say this one more time: Thanks, Springer!