[Bell Historians] Library Committee's learned journal

A Willis zen16073 at z...
Mon Apr 14 11:26:33 BST 2003

David Bryant wrote

Bell history is by nature esoteric, and I don't think anyone without
detailed knowledge of the subject could successfully edit it.

There are several aspects of editing. Probably the most important is the
rendering of an article into clear and gramatical English, something that
the Ringing World frequently fails to do. Some writers need very little
help here, others, and I am one, may need rather more. Just because a
subject is esoteric, it need not be obtuse. Then there is the overall
presentation. Is the article well laid out; are the arguments presented
logically; are the conclusions convincing; is the referencing clear and
complete? Can it be understood by someone who is a complete stranger to the
subject? All of this can be done by someone who IS a complete stranger to
the subject, and the article will probably be the better for it. A
complementary referee in the person of an eminent bell historian is
obviously needed as well.
I have no idea what your academic field is, but my guess is that you are
not on the arts side, and like so many 'non-arts' people you have never been
taught how to write an essay. Being a Biochemist, neither was I, and in my
recent MA course I found writing essays a real struggle. I never did write
one that was wholly satisfactory to my tutor; the facts might have been
fine, the rest was never entirely as he would have liked it. Looking back
at my first attempts, I am amazed at his patience.
I cited The Local Historian as an example of a well-edited Journal. May I
suggest you look at their archive pages on
http://www.balh.co.uk/publications/tlharchive1.htm which include some
interesting thoughts on the process and results of good editing.
If you want a fun book to read on how not to write, try The Reader Over
Your Shoulder by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge (Jonathan Cape, London, 1944).
It's currently out of print, but second-hand copies are readily available.

Anne Willis

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