Where teaching and research intersect

With the fall semester just around the corner, I’ve been thinking about changes to the editing course that I teach at UNC-Chapel Hill.

One area I’d like to focus on more is what research tells us about writing and editing. The objective of academic research, after all, is to create knowledge and make discoveries that can be shared with the world.

For several years, I have mentioned eyetracking research done by The Poynter Institute and similar work by a UNC colleague, Laura Ruel. Students have said that they liked learning about how readers read pages, both in print and online. They have also taken an interest in Poynter’s research about alternative story forms.

This semester, I will add the important research by Fred Vultee of Wayne State University that shows that readers value editing. Vultee presented his findings earlier this year at the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society and again at the recent AEJMC conference.

I’ll also mention a study in the current issue of Newspaper Research Journal that found that grammar errors hinder comprehension and damage credibility. (The study isn’t published online, unfortunately.)

I believe that it’s important to let students — and working journalists — know about research that speaks to our profession. That’s the central mission of efforts at ACES to encourage and promote research about editing.

I encourage others who teach editing and writing to include research as part of your classes. And if you know of studies that speak to those skills, please share that knowledge. I’d love to pass that information on to the writers and editors of the future.



  1. And if any of y’all want help *finding* research about newspaper reading habits, etc., I hope you’ll contact your librarian. 🙂 (who could get you that Newspaper Research Journal article via Interlibrary Loan if that’s useful….)

  2. Thank you, Stephanie!

    The name of the NRJ article is “Article Recall, Credibility Lower with Grammar Errors.” The authors are Alyssa Appelman and Paul Bolls of the University of Missouri.

  3. My dear Andy,

    I would not have found your blog, if my daughter, J.K. Pallavi, had not joined NCSU to do her MS in Computer Science.

    I am an editor since 1983, teaching editing to the Masters students at the Dept of Communication and Journalism, University of Pune, India.

    I am also in touch with Mr. A.C. Snow, who writes an unusual column at the News & Observer, Raleigh.

    Yours sincerely,
    Joseph M. Pinto.

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