All about the Standing Committee on Academic Editing

While wandering the forest of IPEd acronyms and abbreviations, members may have wondered what the SCAE is and what it does. Our Editors WA branch president sits on the IPEd Standing Committee for Academic Editing, responsible for the important task of updating, rewriting and consolidating IPEd’s Guidelines for editing of research theses, with the revised version released on the IPEd website in April this year. We have asked Dr Laurel Mackinnon, who chairs the SCAE, to tell us about this important committee.

IPEd instituted the SCAE to develop a national program of activities that support editors in academic publishing, and to review and report on the context and state of play in academic publishing. The SCAE began work in November 2017.

The SCAE plays a significant role in implementing IPEd’s strategic plan, including leadership in articulating the role of the editor in academic writing and publication, consideration of the Guidelines for editing research theses and their currency, and other matters of concern or interest for academic editors.

Current committee members are professional editors who specialise in providing editorial and related services to the academic and publishing sectors and who are also members of IPEd. Although members are drawn from branches to facilitate organisation-wide consultation, they are not appointed to represent their branches, and instead contribute to the overall interests and objectives of IPEd.

The main objective of the SCAE is to develop and lead a program of activities that support career development for editors in academic editing, with short-term and long-term initiatives and activities designed to implement the priorities outlined in the IPEd Strategic Plan (July 2017).

A major activity of the SCAE was the review and revision of the former Guidelines for editing of research theses. This began with a critical review of the former Guidelines and submission of an Options paper to the Board (March 2018). The Guidelines were restructured and rewritten to reflect recommendations in the Options paper and were then approved by the Board and endorsed by the Australian Council for Graduate Research (ACGR). The revised Guidelines were released in April 2019, and IPEd members were notified of the release in IPEd Notes 29 April, which included a brief introduction to the revised version.

Current SCAE activities

  • Continuing with Option 5 in the Options paper (March 2018), the SCAE is currently developing resources for academic editors, starting with case studies and FAQs.
  • The SCAE is developing a webinar on the revised Guidelines for editing of research theses for the Standing Committee for Professional Development.
  • SCAE member Rhonda Daniels, PhD, AE, has joined IPEd’s pay rates working group.
  • SCAE chair Laurel Mackinnon, PhD, ELS, is an Academic Ambassador in IPEd’s Ambassador program.

Following publicity about the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Amendment (Prohibiting Academic Cheating Services) Bill 2019, the SCAE Chair wrote to the ACGR expressing concern about the potential that academic editors could be considered to be in breach of such legislation. The ACGR indicated that it shares our concerns and has taken these to the relevant government agencies. IPEd has been assured that the planned exemption for university-approved activities would cover editing of research work by postgraduate students. IPEd members are encouraged to follow the Guidelines for editing research theses and to obtain supervisor approval for editing.

Laurel Mackinnon, PhD, ELS is the Chair of IPEd’s Standing Committee on Academic Editing

Staff changes in IPEd national office

New secretary for IPEd

There has recently been an important change to staffing in the IPEd national office. Margaret Telford, IPEd secretary since 2013–14 has resigned for personal reasons.

Margaret has been an invaluable, highly professional and highly respected secretary for IPEd during her tenure, especially over the transition from IPEd as a peak body for State societies to the direct membership model. She also became a much-relied-upon source of information and knowledge about IPEd’s constitution and functions, and who’s who.

Margaret’s replacement is Mike Willoughby. Mike has been a fully qualified company secretary for 16 years, with a background in accounting and subsequently in company law overseas and in Australia. He has worked in both corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Thus, Mike brings a wealth of experience to the position in which he will work on a 0.3 FTE basis.

The email for Mike remains the same:

We will keep you abreast of any other changes to national office staffing if and as they arise.

In other news…

WA editors may be interested to know that IPEd has identified thesis and academic editing as an important early project for the restructured organisation to work on. Thesis editing appears to be one of the most controversial disciplines for editors across the country. Notwithstanding the professional guidelines (, debate erupts sporadically about the level of editing that can and should be applied to theses, and the ways in which edits are implemented.

Another significant current and on-going project for IPEd is the revision of Style manual. The sixth edition is now more than a decade old and is in urgent need of updating. IPEd is one of several organisations with the credentials to undertake this important task. An IPEd working party comprising representatives from all states and territories is being set up to coordinate a strategy and IPEd is looking at possible collaborative working arrangements with other organisations. Word on progress will be disseminated as the project unfolds.

For more information on these or any other news from IPEd, go to or contact your IPEd WA Councillor, Stephen White.