Content development involves more than researching the specified area and deciding which components of that area are worth developing into a deliverable, whether that be a course, a blog, an editorial, a handout, etc. It involves a team dedicated to the delivery of a quality curriculum. Developmental editing is an essential part of the development process. The developmental editor (DE) ensures the content being delivered is free of bias and meets the required specifications and guidelines. The DE is the ultimate proofreader. The DE has no investment in the piece being delivered. With no investment in the piece, there should be no conflict of interest in ensuring writers implement their edits.
As many projects call on instructional designers or writers to put together initial versions of content, it is the developmental editor who takes those initial versions and checks for relevance, accuracy, and completion. If a piece needs revisions, it is the DE who sends recommendations for improvement to all vested parties.
As part of their editing responsibilities, an effective DE may:
- Point out obscure or irrelevant content
- Review a piece for grammatical errors
- Run a plagiarism check on submitted content
- Ensure deliverables are presented in the correct format
- Suggest or revise phrasing to meet the needs of the projected audience
Most DEs have had their fair share of tension in the editorial process. They have to reject material which writers have worked hard researching and designing and probably feel a sense of ownership. For this reason, the DE must be one who is consistent in his or her evaluation of work. This consistency comes from years of work in the field to ensure they have a foundation from which to pull both criticism and praise. To this end, the DE is an excellent resource for developing quality assurance checklists for writers to follow when developing content. These checklists help to decrease frustrations and revisions that can arise during the content development process.
These checklists can include such things as:
- word count needed
- deliverable due dates
- audience reading level
- formatting expectations
- evaluation measures tied to content
As a reiteration, the developmental editor is put in place to ensure a quality product is produced. The DE must be aware of the challenges facing writers and developers while keeping a keen sense of the objectives in mind. For more information, please see: Checklist to evaluate PBA items.