KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What Non-Native English Speakers Need When Submitting Manuscripts to Western Science Journals

Editing for authors who are non-native English speakers
This article from The Scientist is right that language problems aren't always what get international authors' research manuscripts rejected by English-language science journals. Most often, there is a problem with the research described in the manuscript. But still, even though many journals will say publicly that poor English won't cause rejection, authors and editors alike know that's not always the truth.

Sometimes the problem is cultural differences between authors and the staff of target journals. If authors are unfamiliar with how a journal's publishing culture operates, they can lose chances to get published. If, on top of that, they are not native speakers of English, there can be rejection-inducing misunderstandings in communication. And finally, some journals' peer reviewers truly will not even review a manuscript if they can tell that English is not the authors' native language.

When authors who are non-native speakers of English look for editors outside their target journals to help them, they may encounter some editors

  • Who aren't highly skilled and thus who introduce errors into manuscripts
  • Who are in financial relationships with the journals and thus don't have the authors' best interests at heart
  • Who aren't willing or able to help authors understand the journals' culture
  • Who fit all of the preceding descriptions.

It can take time, but authors can eventually find editors like me who are quite skilled, who have no financial connections with the authors' target journals, and who are happy to "translate" the culture of authors' target journals. And once they find such editors, they can build long-term work relationships that benefit both parties.

Authors who want more information on working with good editors should read the book Editing Research: The Author Editing Approach to Providing Effective Support to Writers of Research Papers, by Valerie Matarese. [Disclosure: I am one of the expert authors quoted in the book.]


Monday, March 16, 2020

Purging Plagiarism: Why Authors Plagiarise and How to Fix It

One of the most difficult situations for an editor to deal with is finding plagiarism in a client’s work. The initial reaction is often shock or disbelief, which is the result of the editor’s knowledge and understanding of the legal and ethical issues surrounding plagiarism. This understanding is not always shared by our clients. Regardless of culture, or author awareness of the ethics of plagiarism, both native and non-native English speakers may struggle to identify plagiarism in their own work, and so it is good practice to never assume that plagiarism has been done maliciously or was intentional.

Shutterstock / Pixelvario /Sign in foreground of grassy field with two arrows pointing in opposite directions, one pointing towards creativity and the other towards imitation
With this in mind, Joely Taylor and I teamed up to co-author a presentation on plagiarism for the 9th Institute of Professional Editors Limited national editors conference in Melbourne, Australia, in May 2019. We have since expanded on the content in the talk and have written a paper to provide authors and editors with a more comprehensive guide on plagiarism.

In the paper we explain that there are numerous methods for finding plagiarism in text, including relying on the editor’s own ear in picking up sudden changes in language, finding hotlinks in text and using commercial plagiarism-checking software. We also describe the different categories of plagiarism, including self-plagiarism, patch-writing and copy-paste writing.

In an increasingly digitised world, with exponential growth in publications, in this case scientific publications, preventing plagiarism becomes a larger and more complex issue. In addition, English may be the international language of science, but increasingly non-native English speakers are contributing to science by writing journal papers. It is the role of the international research community to ensure that the privilege of native English speakers does not stand in the way of the continued unification and dissemination of good research by researchers across the globe.

Despite the reason for plagiarism, understanding the different categories of plagiarism and how it comes about will assist authors and editors in better managing plagiarism when it appears in text and in being able to confidently and knowledgeably understand plagiarism and how to avoid it in the future.

It is the role of the international research community to ensure that the privilege of native English speakers does not stand in the way of the continued unification and dissemination of good research by researchers across the globe.

Download the paper Purging plagiarism: Why authors plagiarise and how to fix it.

View this blog post and the paper on Dr Joely Taylor’s blog, Well Writ.


Dr Joely Taylor is a former research scientist. Specialising in academic, technical and scientific editing, Dr Taylor is an Accredited Editor with the Institute of Professional Editors Ltd in Australia, an Editor in the Life Sciences with the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences in the US, and an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (the former Society for Editors and Proofreaders) in the UK.

Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, ELS, is a self-employed medical editor with board certification in the life sciences. Her editing has helped researchers in more than 20 nations get published in more than 50 different medical journals. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, the Council of Science Editors, the American Medical Writers Association, the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, and ACES: the Society for Editing.



Thursday, February 06, 2020

US State Laws About Independent Contractors

The US state of California enacted a law in January 2020 that redefines the role of independent contractors, aka freelancers. The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) recently wrote to its self-employed members, who include self-employed medical writers and self-employed medical editors, to say this:

One unintended consequence of this effort is a potential chilling effect on companies that hire freelance medical writers and editors. If companies stop hiring freelancers because they are afraid their state might later redefine those freelancers as employees entitled to all appropriate benefits and required income tax withholding, this will threaten freelancers’ businesses, livelihoods, and ability to work as they wish.

See this news story from the LA Times and this information from the State of California Department of Industrial Relations for background on these kinds of laws.

Because AMWA has heard concerns from its self-employed members, the organization has issued two documents that you as a freelance editor might find helpful:




If you're a self-employed editorial worker who lives in the USA, check with your professional organizations (the Society for Editing, American Society for Indexing, Association of Earth Science Editors, Council of Science Editors, Editorial Freelancers Association, Northwest Editors Guild, etc.) to see what they're doing and saying about similar laws in your state.


Friday, June 07, 2019

Courses About Medical Editing

A colleague on an email discussion list asked about continuing-education courses in medical editing. I'm sharing here the info I gave her:

  • "Macroediting" (has nothing to do with using macros), webinar available through the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)
  • "Medical Editing," webinar available from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)
  • Various courses available from the Drug Information Association; see its catalog


Friday, April 12, 2019

How to Run an Editing Business

Self-employed editors don't just edit. They must also run their own editing business. No one just hands them clients and projects; they have to go out and get those themselves. In this guest post, my colleague Amy J. Schneider explains for editors new to business what that entails. What appears here is a version of material that she originally posted in an editors' Facebook discussion group. She has given me her permission to repost it here.


Let us remember that even a part-time business is still a business, and we must treat it like one. All businesses require capital investment: professional training and development, equipment (computer and peripherals, Internet connection), software (general and industry-specific: Office, Acrobat, editorial plug-ins, etc.), and more. You'll need to consider taxes, local business licensing (if any), bookkeeping, time tracking, scheduling, quoting and setting appropriate rates, invoicing, contracts, client relations, marketing, networking, online/social media presence, IT self-education and maintenance, and the list goes on. Much if not all of this is covered in Katharine O'Moore-Klopf's Copyeditors' Knowledge Base (CKB).

Remember also that your clients will not be interested in what editing will do for you, but rather what you can do to meet their needs. You may have to do less of an edit on a project than it needs, or than you think it needs. You may need to edit to different styles (style guide or house style), or be asked to make or leave things "wrong." Your clients will expect you to be a problem-solver and a self-starter, with minimal hand-holding from them, to give them the edit they want. You are a vendor to them, just as a service provider such as a plumber is to you; they expect you to take care of things so they don't have to.

When I started as a freelance editor, I didn't know what I didn't know. Now when newbies approach me for advice, I send them to three resources: CMOS [the Chicago Manual of Style], Amy Einsohn's Copyeditor's Handbook (the 4th edition will be available in May 2019), and the CKB. That's enough to keep them busy for a while. In my 24 years of self-employment, no one has ever come back and said that they still wanted to be a freelance editor after reviewing those references. They all apparently had a very different idea of what it was all about. It's a lot more work than many people think, and it's not always glamorous or fun. It is most certainly a profession and a business that requires a generous infusion of cash, time, blood, sweat, tears, and, yes, talent. But the least of these is talent. You will get out of it what you put into it.

______________

Amy J. Schneider is the owner of Featherschneider Editorial Services and has been providing professional editing and proofreading of textbooks, trade books, and fiction since 1995.

Where to find Amy: editing and proofreading; LinkedIn profile





Friday, January 25, 2019

Writers and editors: Do you know why and how to use patient-friendly language in documents? In this article I wrote for ACES: The Society for Editing, I share some of my tips for creating patient-friendly language.




Thursday, October 18, 2018

Self-Employed Editors, Can You Build a Clientele Instantly?

I’m seeing requests everywhere from new editorial freelancers who are seeking tools and techniques that will get them get a steady clientele very fast.

I’ve been self-employed almost 24 years, and my experience tells me what other self-employed editorial pros have said in various venues: building up a clientele takes time. There are no methods that work instantly. It would be lovely if there were.

But keep marketing, to make your presence and skills known. This involves doing things like these:
  • Blogging
  • Commenting on the blogs where potential clients hang out (without doing a hard sell)
    • Participating in professional associations
    • Contacting clients (past, current, and desired) to talk about how you can help lighten their project load—and not starting by reciting all of your academic degrees and training
    • Sharing your professional knowledge (without doing hard sales pitches)
      • In email discussion groups
      • In Facebook discussion groups
      • On Twitter
      • On LinkedIn
      • All over the place
    • Doing presentations to share helpful knowledge at meetings where potential clients hang out
    • Teaching courses in person or via the internet
    • Finding ways to build up the number of word-of-mouth referrals you get

    If you don’t take the time to do at least some of those things on a regular basis, clients just won’t land on your desk. There are ways to do them without using up all your editing time and without spending lots of money.

    I know you can do this. I’m an introvert, and I do it.


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