My family and I moved to a new house in late October and one of the first questions most of our new neighbors have asked is “so, what do you do?” I have a canned answer, but I don’t really think I do my job justice: I think scientific editing and publishing is interesting and important work (I hope that’s clear to our readers!), but I usually rush through that part and focus on the American Heart Association (“you’ve probably seen our logo on cereal boxes”).
But then I started to think of this recent Science Editor article by Becky Rivard and Jessica LaPointe: How to Explain Your Role to Non-Editors: Production and Copy Editing. In it, Becky (a production editor) and Jessica (a copyeditor) give brief summaries of the work they do and its importance to the scientific endeavor. Among other tasks, copyeditors help authors improve their work and communicate their ideas clearly (especially for researchers not raised as English writers) and ensure consistency and accuracy of terms and citations, while production editors coordinate everything needed to bring an accepted manuscript to publication, enriching the research and certifying quality along the way.
As they note, even some colleagues in scientific editing and publishing may not know what every other role entails and it’s helpful to have that elevator speech ready so you can easily share what you do and why. With that in mind, we would like to build a series of Science Editor articles around the question “what do you do?” each describing your role to non-editor colleagues and those outside of scientific publishing. If you would like to contribute to this series, providing an article on managing editors, publication directors, peer review coordinators, academic editors, or whatever your role may be, please email us at email@example.com.
In the meantime, I’ll be working on my response even though we will never move again.
Editor-in-Chief, Science Editor
Announcement: Look for the Fall 2019 issue of Science Editor online this week and in mailboxes later this month.
Recent Early Online Articles
Continuing the theme of discussing our work, this month’s feature Early Online article by Pam Goldberg Smith describes her experience training at multiple AHA journals: Diversity of Minds in Cross-Training Editorial Staff: A Guinea Pig’s Perspective. I’m a big believer in cross-training, as journals and departments can sometimes become too siloed, missing out on innovations and important developments being advanced by other managers or editors, even within the same organization. I think of Science Editor as, in part, a forum for inter-organization cross training: most of my invitations to authors start with some version of “what you are doing sounds really interesting, and it would be great if you could write about it for Science Editor”. If you’ve got something interesting to share, let me know.
Resource of the Month
I find it comforting in a way that people much, much smarter than myself still have a problem with statistics: stats are the great leveler! Of course, statistical ignorance and confusion is not great for science, but luckily, a growing number of journals, editors, and statisticians are working together to improve the rigor of statistical review and educate researchers. One recent and helpful guide, published by eLife, that I recommend is Ten common statistical mistakes to watch out for when writing or reviewing a manuscript.
Bonus Resource! There is still time to register and attend the Fall 2019 CSE Short Course on the Road: Publication Management on November 13, 2019 in Washington DC. This short course is being taught by a great group of experienced speakers and is really one of the best ways to learn about or stay up-to-date on “the wide-ranging role of managing editors and publication managers as well as the daily challenges they face.”
Hot Articles from Recent Issues (For CSE Members only)
As a CSE member benefit, once Science Editor articles are moved to an issue, they are available only to CSE Members for one year.
On occasion, if you are unable to enthusiastically talk about what you do, it may mean you need to find another job. If that’s your case, we’ve got you covered with Interview Preparedness: How to Find and Interview for the Next Right Job. Erin Nyren and Tom Lang provide tips for finding that right job, nailing the interview process, and asking the right questions of your potential new employer. Good luck!
Not a CSE member? Additional membership info along with instructions for becoming a member of the Council of Science Editors can be found here.
From the Archives
So now that you know what copyeditors do, and the value they bring to publications, I can only assume that you’re going to want to hire more for your publications. If so, you’ll need our helpful guide from 2017 on Hiring and Training Copy Editors for Scholarly Publishing written by former Science Editor Copy Chief, Jessica LaPointe.
Stick to [Science Editing]
One of my favorite sites to read daily, Deadspin.com, a “sports blog”, effectively shut down recently when its lead editor was fired, and all of the editorial team and writers resigned in solidarity within a few days. You can read in detail about what transpired in articles such as this one, but in short, the site’s parent company was purchased in April by a private equity firm, who then began insisting that the writers “stick to sports”, which did not go over well with a staff that never bought into the idea to begin with. In fact, it was a destination for readers who didn’t read other sports sites (myself included), and what made Deadspin special was that it never stuck to sports, recognizing that “life’s rich pageant” (a common article tag) is never that simple or segmented. One of the pleasures of a site like Deadspin was getting to know writers and growing with them as their thoughts on life, politics, parenting, and of course, sports, changed and evolved. I write all of this in praise of journals and editors who let their humanity shine through, be it by publishing poems or artwork, featuring personal essays and career/life stories and advice, or even just by giving us a window into their lives on social media. The upcoming Fall 2019 issue of Science Editor includes math-inspired artwork on the cover, and I’d love to feature more if our readers send them in. If you’ve got something you’ve created even tangentially related to science, publishing, editing, or professional life and would like to share it with our community, let us know.
Feedback and suggestions are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also always looking for new submissions or article suggestions you may have; for more details, see our Information for Authors.