The development of professional standards for editing in South Africa
Law, Melanie Ann
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Currently, South African editors do not have a prescribed set of professional editing standards. The absence of standards is cause for concern because it reflects the largely unregulated status of the South African editing industry. An important problem arising from the lack of standards is that there is no way in which the industry can determine the competence of its practitioners. In addition, the absence of standards also affects other areas of the industry, such as training, accreditation, regulation and professionalisation. As a consequence, editors struggle to obtain professional recognition for their work. Against this background, this study postulates that the development of standards for South African editors is possible and necessary. However, because the South African editing industry is highly diversified in terms of the various contexts in which editors may work, the development of standards needs to be based on the identification of shared or core tasks and skills that are essential for the everyday work of all editors, together with the identification of tasks and skills specific to certain sectors. This may lead to the development of a set of core standards for editors, supplemented by sector-specific standards. The focal point of this study is the first of these two aspects: the development of core standards for editors in South Africa. In order to develop core standards for South African editors, this study comprises a literature review and empirical investigation. The literature review analyses the status of the South African editing industry, and also contributes to the identification of a comprehensive list of tasks and skills involved in editing. The empirical investigation is based on a survey questionnaire (utilising the tasks and skills identified in the literature review) designed to collect data on which tasks and skills form an essential part of South African editors' work. The questionnaire was sent to a stratified sample of South African editors, reflecting the four sectors identified for the purposes of this study: editing for book publishing, editing for mass media, technical editing and academic editing. The data collected from the questionnaire was analysed utilising various statistical methods, in order to extrapolate core (or shared) tasks and skills among South African editors. These core tasks and skills were used to draft a document outlining core standards for South African editors, which was tested for accessibility and clarity by means of a semi-Delphi study.
- Humanities