Clarifying the meaning

Nature of edit  Routine copy-edit including reading for sense

Type of copy  Concluding sentence of scientific academic journal paper

Before

Whereas Norway's policy has not changed with changes in government, Sweden's policy has. The relationship between statements of intent and actual policies is thus not as certain, as Bjorg et al. (1976) previously found.

After

Whereas Norway's policy has not changed with changes in government, Sweden's policy has. The relationship between statements of intent and actual actions is uncertain, as Bjorg et al. (1976) previously found.

Problem and solution

In the last sentence, the comparative construction 'not as … as' cannot be interrupted with a comma.

But an experienced editor will exercise care here rather than simply deleting the superfluous comma. The second sentence could have meant one of several things: How did the relationship relate to Bjorg et al.'s findings? And did Bjorg et al. find that the relationship between intent and actions was certain or not certain?

The editor needed to check elsewhere in the text, and discovered that Bjorg et al. had found that the relationship was uncertain. So a comparative statement ('as … as') was not intended; the first 'as' needed to be deleted, and then 'not certain' changed to 'uncertain'.

The author was alerted to confirm or amend the edit.