FAQs

Here you can browse my comprehensive FAQ section where I have tried to summarize the questions I am most frequently asked by clients. Chances are you will find the answer to your question here more quickly! If you can’t find here what you are looking for, please feel free to get in touch with me anytime by using the methods as indicated in Contact.

General Questions and Curiosities

Which are the services you offer?

English language editing and language translation services, from Italian into English or vice versa, as well as website services (web content and translation, web design).

Who are your target clients?

Generally small businesses and private individuals (students and faculty, researchers, authors, etc.) more than large companies or institutes considering I manage my business on my own and do not subcontract my projects to others, with the exception of web design (in collaboration).

In what field are you most equipped?

In the biological, biomedical and natural sciences (see Areas of Expertise for more details). However, I am more than willing to challenge myself in new fields and am curious to know about yours!

What are your opening hours and time zone?

The Smart Octopus is based in Italy and operates in GMT+1 (when standard time is adopted) and in GMT+2 (when summer time is adopted). Thus, all deadlines given are, according to the seasons, in GMT+1 (from October to March) or in GMT+2 (from March to October). Its opening hours are 9 am to 5 pm, 5 days a week (weekends are excluded). Business is carried out throughout the year, with the exception of the month of August (holiday month in Italy). Please note that I may need to extend the deadline for documents whose return date falls during weekends.

Why is your business called “The Smart Octopus”?

The name was thought for my 10 years spent as a research scientist studying octopus behaviour and learning capabilities (see Résumé for more details). I feel priviledged to have had the chance to observe, interact and learn from these fascinating sea creatures, that are curious and smart, and are able to change the colour and texture of their skin in seconds to adapt to their enviroment, to ambush prey or startle potential predators. Their cognitive abilities are extraordinary, when we think that they are molluscs! They are able to find their way through a maze or to open jars to reach for prey; they are also capable of distinguishing between punishing and rewarding stimuli, of using tools, just like crows, or even of the highest form of learning, i.e. learning from others, a characteristic they share with dolphins and primates. Would you expect all this from a relative of the garden snail?

Questions on Editing

What types of work does The Smart Octopus edit?

I edit and proofread all types of documents, including research papers and reports, grant proposals, flyers and brochures, presentations at international conferences, letters and correspondence in all disciplines of biology and natural sciences, biomedicine and biotechnology.

Do you edit manuscripts in fields other than the biological, biomedical and natural sciences?

Yes. I am specialized in scientific editing for researchers in the life and physical sciences. However, I am more than willing to challenge myself in new fields and do edit manuscripts in other areas of study.

Who edits my paper?

I do. I am the editor that is doing the job as I do not subcontract my projects to others. I have a 1:1 relationship with each and every client and am your direct contact during all the phases of the project, from submission to delivery of the work.

How will I see the changes in my document?

Once the revision is complete, you will receive back two files: one containing the manuscript with the changes visible under Track Changes for you to accept or reject and another with the changes accepted for clearer reading. For a more detailed review of how the “Track Changes” tool works refer to Format and Procedure.

What is the difference between Proofreading, Copyediting and Substantive editing?

Proofreading is the lightest form of editing, the finishing touch so to speak, and involves correcting for punctuation and grammar, spelling mistakes, formatting and consistency.
Copyediting is the most essential form of editing, equivalent to polishing the text. It thus also involves checking for sentence structure errors and actually rearranging/rewriting sentences to remove passive voice, ambiguous references, awkward transitions, and wordiness.
Substantive editing is the most comprehensive form of editing and involves evaluating a document in terms of overall structure (organization and completeness) and coherence of content (flow of ideas and clarity).
Please refer to English Language Editing Service for additional information.

Will you assess my writing style or make major amendments to the structure of the manuscript?

It depends on the level of document editing you choose. The style, structure and coherence of content of your manuscript will only be assessed if you choose the Substantive editing service.

Can you help me reduce the word count of my paper?

None of my services are specific to reducing word count in a document. However, both Copyediting and Substantive editing involve rearranging or rewriting sentences also by cutting unnecessary words so that it is most likely that the edited version I will send back will contain less words than the original.

What do the Complementary editing services involve?

The Smart Octopus offers a range of add-on services especially useful in the revision of research papers to help you customize your order and possibly increase your chance of publication. These include: journal formatting requirements, future revisions, bibliography check, cover letter editing, and response letter editing. In particular, the editing of your cover letter is included at no additional cost if you choose the Substantive editing service. Moreover, I will edit your revised manuscript (prior or following submission) at no extra charge provided specific criteria are met (see My Discounts for further information).

Does your editing service include formatting?

I do not automatically include formatting to journal requirements as not all customers require it. It is, however, included as an add-on service, at an additional cost. Refer to Complementary editing services and Submission and Pricing for more details.

Can you help me re-edit my paper?

Sure I can. I fully understand that all munuscripts undergo revision, no matter how well they are written, either before submission (for additions or more changes to the paper) or following review (reviewers often require a round of revision before accepting a paper). I support you through the publication process and will edit your revised manuscript at no extra charge provided: i) the new/modified text is highlighted in the revised paper (by underlining or coloured fonts), ii) the amount of new text does not exceed 10% of the word count of the paper originally edited by The Smart Octopus. If not, I will edit all the manuscript again but you will only be charged 80% of the Copyediting service rate, i.e. 0.04-0.05 EUR p/word.
It is important to underline that I will edit the same revised manuscript (< 10% word count) for free a maximum of two times.

Will you edit or format figures or tables?

The Smart Octopus will edit the English of all files containing tables, figures, and any supplementary material as long as it is accessible to word processing under MS Word (all versions). Moreover, if you require the tables and figures be checked for consistency and accuracy (i.e. cross-reference and correct citation within the paper), you must use the Substantive editing service.
I cannot edit files in PDF, TIFF, GIF, or JPG format. However, please upload all figures and tables even if they are not in editable format as they help me to better understand and edit the text.

Do you check references?

Yes, sure, bibliography check is included among the add-on services at an additional cost (see Submission and Pricing for more details) and involves not only checking that the bibliographic citations in your manuscript correspond to those listed in the references list (cross-reference check) but also making sure that they are written correctly (in conformity with ISI Web of Knowledge).
The word count of the reference section is excluded when calculating the cost of editing.

Can you edit cover letters or response letters to editors and referees?

Yes, I can. Again, both are included among the Complementary editing services. Cover letter editing, in particular, is included for free as part of the Substantive editing service, while it has an additional cost for the other editing services. In both letter types I will check spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax and will make sure the letter effectively introduces the paper to the journal editor (cover letter) or effectively addresses the reviewers doubts or questions (response letter).

Do you recommend journals?

No, I don’t.

Will you assess the scientific merit and quality of my paper?

No, by no means. I will not edit the manuscript for research content nor will I provide any feedback on aspects concerning experimental design, data and statistical analysis, or scientific significance.

Can you guarantee that my paper will get published by using your editing services?

I am confident that my editing and complementary services will better your chances of manuscript acceptance. However, publication is a subjective process and journals receive many more good submissions than they can take. Thus, I cannot guarantee that your paper will be accepted for publication after using my services.

The journal rejected my edited paper on the grounds of its language quality. How do you relate to this?

I guarantee that I will re-edit your paper for free if it is rejected by a journal for reasons of English language alone. However, I will ask you to send me a copy of the last version of the manuscript you submitted to the journal and will not be held responsible for any mistakes introduced into the paper between the time I edited it and the time it was submitted for publication.

What happens if you’re late in delivering my paper back?

The Smart Octopus will always strive to deliver the edited work within or before the announced deadline. If not, you will be refunded 10% of the editing fee for each day the delivery date exceeds the deadline.

Questions on Translating

What types of work does The Smart Octopus translate?

I translate all types of documents and web content, but am more experienced in scientific/technical content (research papers and reports, grant proposals, medical documentation, manuals, book chapters, etc.), marketing content (flyers and brochures, presentations at international conferences, promotional documents) and general/personal content (letters and correspondence, CVs and cover letters, etc.).

Who translates my document?

I do. I am the translator that is doing the job as I do not subcontract my projects to others. I have a 1:1 relationship with each and every client and am your direct contact during all the phases of the project, from submission to delivery of the work.

In how many languages can you translate my document or website?

In two languages, English and Italian. Being bilingual, I am able to speak, read and write fluently in both languages. I am thus perfectly equipped to capture the specific expressions and nuances of both languages, making the translation of your document or web content as if written by a native speaker.

Do you use computer-assisted translation (CAT) software to translate my work?

Yes, I do, but only at the beginning of a translation assignment. I first produce a fuzzy translation of the work by using CAT tools (ideal also in ensuring consistency throughout the document) and then personally fine-tune the translation to improve accuracy and correct errors, improve quality and respect the specific expressions and nuances of the source vs. target language. The final goal is to make your translation unambiguous, clear and effective as the original.

Questions on Web Content, Editing and Design

What kinds of web services do you offer?

I offer three types of website service: Web content, Web translation and Web design. Choose the Web content service if you need your content to be cleaner, sharper and more engaging, or the Web translation service if you want your website to be translated (from Italian into English and vice versa) to reach new markets and potential customers or collaborators. Finally, if you want a complete restyling of your website, or would like a website from scratch, then you should opt for the Web design service.

Do I need to copy and paste the contents of a website in MS Word format for you to translate it?

You can send me the sections that need to be translated with all encoding or mark-up languages removed (in .txt, .doc, rtf, etc.) or you can ask me to translate the source files directly (.asp, .htm(l), .php, .xml, java to cite some). However, I do request a surcharge (20%) for the translation of a website in source code vs. word format as the translation process is more time-consuming and requires an additional quality check.

If I ask you to design a website for my business, what does the service include?

The service includes all that you want it to include! Below are some examples of the services offered for Website design:

  • Registration and renewal: web hosting and domain name registration and ongoing website maintenance service.
  • Static or dynamic website design: the creation of static or dynamic websites with modern designs and features, customized to meet the needs of your business. A content management system (CMS) can be built, if required, to facilitate the updating of contents autonomously and make the uploading of other languages much easier.
  • Responsiveness and compatibility: optimization of your website for the best desktop and mobile experiences.
  • SEO and foreign SEO: optimization of your pages with keywords (including relevant keywords in the foreign language for a multi-lingual website) and submission of your site to the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), including those of your target country.
  • Integration with social networks: integration of your website with the major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) to maximize your visibility, check visitors comments and come into direct contact with potential clients or collaborators.

Questions on Document Formatting and Submission

What document formats does The Smart Octopus accept?

Document format depends on the type of service you choose (editing, translation, web).
For the editing/revision of a document, I prefer manuscripts to be submitted in MS Word format (.doc, .docx), although I can also work with TXT and RTF files. Please also include tables and figures (in image or PDF formats), as well as table and figure legends, for reference (no editing will be performed on these files).
For translations, I accept all the major file formats, including Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), TXT and RTF files, and PDFs while for web services you can either send me the document that needs revision/translation with all encoding or mark-up languages removed (in .txt, .doc, rtf, etc.) or you can ask me to revise/translate the source files directly (.asp, .htm(l), .php, .xml, java to cite some). However, I do request a surcharge (20%) for the revision/translation of a website in source code vs. word format as the translation process is more time-consuming and requires an additional quality check.

How do I submit my document for editing or translating?

Submission of your document to The Smart Octopus is simple and effective.
Just fill in the form “Get a quote” where you will asked to “Upload your file”. Please ensure that all of the files you wish to send me have been 100% uploaded before proceeding further. You can select multiple files at a time for upload up to 3 files of 10 MB each. If you need to upload more than 3 files, submit them as a single zipped file (contact me if you have problems or special needs).
Please provide me with all of the requested information where possible, including the service chosen, the document title, the general subject area, the payment method etc. The Notes section allows you to communicate any additional information. When everything is complete, click “Send” to proceed.
If your order has been processed successfully, you will immediately receive a positive response at the bottom of the page confirming this. I will then send you a quote and estimated turnaround time within 24 h, or contact you if I have any questions relating to your order.

What happens to my document after I send it to The Smart Octopus?

Once you have uploaded your work, you will immediately receive a positive response at the bottom of the page confirming that I have received your order successfully. I will then send you a quote for the cost of your order and estimated turnaround time for final delivery within 24 h.
If you accept my estimate and wish to proceed with the order, you must give me your confirmation i) by replying positively to the email containing the quote, and ii) by making payment through my PayPal account (credit card) or bank account (wire transfer).
Upon receipt of your payment confirmation, your deadline will be amended accordingly and I will start working on your document. When the job is complete, I will send you your document via email on or before the specified deadline and in the agreed format. You will also receive the invoice of payment.

How do I check the status of my job?

I will notify you of any change to the job status via email.

How will I know when my document is ready?

When the work is finished, you will receive an email with your revised/translated document in attachment together with the invoice of payment.

Questions on Pricing and Payment

Must I register to your website to receive a quote for my work?

Not at all! Just fill in the form “Get a quote”, with all the information as required including your document, and send it off. Once you submit your document, I will get back to you within 24 h with an official quote and estimated turnaround time for final delivery.

Does a fee quote have a time limit?

Yes, all fee quotes are valid for 30 days. I I reserve the right to revise a quote if you take more than 30 days to reply back to my estimate. If the size, scope, or nature of the project changes after a quote has been accepted, a revised fee may be negotiated.

What does word count include?

Word count simply includes all the words contained in the document. In the case of scientific papers, the word count includes the manuscript title, abstract, main text, acknowledgements, figure legends and table captions, as well as the text of all supplementary material to be edited (e.g., appendices, supplementary information files or reviewer response letters). Tables, figures, and bibliography appearing at the end of the text are not included in the word count estimate.

How is turnaround time calculated?

The Smart Octopus is based in Italy and open 5 days a week (weekends are excluded), from 9 am to 5 pm. Thus, all deadlines given are, according to the seasons, in GMT+1 (from October to March) or in GMT+2 (from March to October) and turnaround time is calculated on business days, not calendar days.
Upon receipt of your payment confirmation, your deadline will be amended accordingly. For example, a 500-word document to be edited that has been confirmed at 10:00 am GMT+1 on Tuesday would be returned within 10:00 am GMT+1 on Friday. Turnaround times for order confirmations outside of regular office hours are calculated from the start of business the next day (9 am).

How can I pay?

You can pay by PayPal (credit card) or wire transfer. Both are swift, reliable and secure. Please note that if you decide to pay using a bank transfer you are responsible for all transfer fees that originate from your bank and possibly my bank. The invoice will be sent, together with your document, when the job is complete (for short projects) or at certain stages (for larger projects).

When must I pay and what happens if I’m late?

After having confirmed to have accepted my quote, make payment through my PayPal account (credit card) or bank account (wire transfer).
Thus, payment must always be confirmed if you wish me to proceed with your work. It goes without saying, that you are never late. Sorry, but this is how I earn a living. I’m sure you understand.

Will I be charged VAT?

In terms of tax regime, my company applies to a facilitated regime (“regime dei contribuenti minimi”). Thus, who uses my services will not be charged VAT nor any withholding tax. You may only incur in bank charges if you choose to pay by wire transfer.

Will I receive a payment receipt?

If you pay by credit card, you will be issued a payment receipt by PayPal, immediately after you have made payment. The receipt is sent to the email address you used when you signed up to The Smart Octopus. You will also receive the invoice of payment by me via email, together with your document, when the job is complete.

Will I have to pay again for the editing of revised manuscripts?

Manuscripts often need to be revised, prior submission to make additional changes or following review to respond to the criticism of referees. The Smart Octopus supports you through the publication process and will edit your revised manuscript at no extra charge provided the following conditions are met:

  • The new/modified text is highlighted in the revised paper. You can use underlining or coloured fonts.
  • The amount of new text does not exceed 10% of the word count of the paper originally edited by The Smart Octopus.

If these two conditions are met, I will only edit the new/modified text at no additional cost and you will receive back the edited version within 3-4 days. If, however, the amount of text exceeds 10% of the word count of the paper originally edited by me or if you have not highlighted the new/modified text appropriately, then I will edit all the manuscript again. You will be charged 80% of the Copyediting service rate, i.e. 0.04-0.06 EUR per word.
It is important to underline that I will edit the same revised manuscript (< 10% word count) for free a maximum of two times.

Do you offer discounts?

Absolutely. I offer various kinds of discounts for my editing and translation services based on new customers (first order discounts) and returning customers (regular clients discounts), the size of the project (volume discounts), the resubmission of manuscripts (re-editing discounts), recommendations of my services to colleagues (referral discounts) and testimonials on my services (feedback discounts).

Questions on Privacy and Confidentiality

How is your confidentiality policy?

Your privacy is extremely important to me and your research is safe with me. When you register on my site, you can be sure that I will handle your personal details (and contents of your documents) with utmost care and confidentiality (more details in Security and Privacy and Privacy Policy).
I obviously do not sign a confidentiality agreement simply because I carry out my business on my own and do not subcontract to others. I thus have all the interest for you to be satisfied with my work and would never divulge the content of any manuscript or document to anyone else or use it for other purposes without your written consent.

What about on-line security?

My website uses modern encryption methods to protect your research during data transfer and storage. This means that no one can access the content of your account, communications between you and your account, or the content of any manuscript or file during the upload or download process.