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Perception and Acceptance of Editor’s Corrections by Gender

Introduction Formatted: Font: Bold

The relationship between an author and an editor must always be one of deliberate

respect and consideration, where each finds the balance between compromise and

creating the best finished product. Communication between these two parties has

everything to do with this relationship, which is why editors are careful to form

suggestions in a way that persuades the author to accept the corrections while not

conveying an attacking or offensive tone. Many have examined these author-editor

communication strategies to make the balance between establishing authority and

persuading easier for editors. Bruce Speck, in his article "Editorial Authority in the

Author-Editor Relationship," outlines four strategies for increasing editorial authority:

using editorial dialogue, defining the audience, citing authority, and teaching (1991).

What hasn’t been thoroughly explored, however, is how gender could affect these

strategies. Linguists such as Deborah Tannen have studied how different grammar

structures are interpreted by the two genders in the workplace and how the authority of

the speaker or writer is evaluated accordingly. Generally, men in the workplace use and

expect to hear more direct, imperative forms of requests or directions. Women use and

prefer what they consider the more egalitarian interrogative forms (Tannen 1990).

Research Question Formatted: Font: Bold

The question I will explore in this study is whether or not it is helpful for editors to style

their comments based on the gender of the author they work with. I will discuss my

methodology and analyze the results to clue in editors as to the best way to style their Commented [JA1]: I have a suggestion to improve the
flow of this phrase. Try something like: “to determine
the best way for editors to style…”
comments according to the gender of the author they are working with.
Method Formatted: Font: Bold

My method in performing this study was to create on online survey composed of pairs of

editorial comments demonstrating each of Speck’s four strategies for elevating editorial

authority. Each pair consisted of the imperative form of a comment and the interrogative

form, according to Tannen’s work in gender linguistics: Commented [JA2]: I know in the last round of edits we
talked about the spacing of this next section to
differentiate between pairs. I still think that would be
helpful as right now it does not look too much like
This orphan line may make it difficult for readers to follow while turning the page. coordinated pairs.
Adjust the leading or spacing so this whole paragraph appears on the same
page.

Do you think the orphan line will make it difficult for readers to follow while turning
the page? Could you adjust the leading or spacing so this whole paragraph
appears on the same page?

Because your audience is teenagers who won’t understand this advanced


financial jargon, I recommend you reword this paragraph into simpler terms.

Because your audience is teenagers who won’t understand this advanced


financial jargon, have you considered rewording this paragraph into simpler
terms?

Make lowercase all titles that are not accompanied by personal names (Chicago
Manual of Style 8.19).

Will you lowercase all titles that are not accompanied by personal names
(Chicago Manual of Style 8.19)?

Recent changes in usage are moving toward using non-sexist language and
have called for the term “firefighters” instead of “firemen.”

Were you aware that recent changes in usage are moving toward using non-
sexist language, and have called for the term “firefighters” instead of “firemen”?

Participants rated the options on a scale of 1–5, five being most authoritative and one

being least authoritative. They also rated the comments a second time on the same 1–5

scale, except five meant very likely to accept the suggested edit and one meant not
likely. Participants then recorded their age and the gender they identify as. This survey

was posted on social media in order to gather a larger and more varied sample.

Results Formatted: Font: Bold

In general, all the participants considered the comments in imperative form more

authoritative. There was only one female who favored the interrogative form on Commented [JA3]: I think data or a percentage from
your survey would be helpful here.
authoritativeness. Of the ten females that responded to the survey, only two of them

rated the comments in question form as more authoritative and more likely to accept the

edits. Four of the ten females said that both in authoritativeness and likeliness were

equal in both forms of the comment. The remaining four female participants rated the Commented [JA4]: I’m a little confused by what you’re
trying to say in this statement. I think the first “in” is a
typo, but I’m not sure. I would consider revising for
imperative form as more authoritative and more likely to induce them to accept the edit. clarity.

The males, interestingly, all rated the imperative form as significantly more

authoritative than the interrogative form (imperative usually scoring a 5 with

interrogative scoring a 1). There was some difference in the likeliness of accepting an

edit, however. Two males said that they were equally likely to accept the edits of either

form. Commented [JA5]: Out of how many males surveyed?

Another interesting pattern I noticed was the fact that, on average, all the

participants considered the comment with the citation from Chicago Manual of Style as

the most authoritative than over the other key strategies from Speck’s article.

Discussion Formatted: Font: Bold

Overall, my study only showed a slight difference in the way the two genders interpreted

these contrasting forms of comments. Though my sample size was small, I believe the
fact that there was a pattern at all that correlated to the gender of the participant is

significant. If an editor wishes to appear authoritative, tThe imperative form as shown Commented [JA6]: Is this supposed to be was or has
instead?
proven to be the more effective strategy for an editor to appear authoritative, especially

with a citation explaining the source material for theyour change.

Males seem to be relatively consistent in their judgements of the comments. For

an editor working with a male author, using the imperative form in a direct way is a safe

route for conveying your authority as a knowledgeable editor and being persuasive in Commented [JA7]: Maybe you could reword this with
something like “successful strategy.”
getting the author to accept any your edits. However, when working with a female

author there seems to be more difference of opinion as far as what’s most effective. It

should be noted that this study does not address the best way to forge a healthy

relationship between editor and author, so whether or not an author is likely to accept

an edit may not be correlated to the author’s opinion of the editor personally. A female

author, generally, will find the imperative form more authoritative and will be equally

likely to accept the edit. Citations were just as effective for males as for females, so

using citations to justify edits is recommended.

Appendix Formatted: Font: Bold


Authoritativeness: One example not distinguished by gender but by frequency of rating
Commented [JA8]: In this chart and those following,
there are ellipses used and they cut out part of the
prompt. I’m guessing Google does that automatically
so the image is one standard size, but it makes it
difficult for the reader to understand the data.

Likeliness to accept the edit: not distinguished by gender