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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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Editors, Your Authors Are the Experts on Their Own Names

We editors should all listen to our authors when they tell us how their names should appear on what we edit.

I think that in the USA it's purely privilege—both white privilege and male privilege—that causes the gatekeepers in English-language publishing systems to tell any authors with two surnames that they're doing it wrong. Grrrrrrrrr!

"Now I needed to ask [the committee member] the question that had been nagging me since I began to work on the manuscript: 'How should I publish my name?' 'However you want,' she replied. 'It is time for people to understand that Latin American scientists have two last names.' ...

" 'Two last names are too much for 'them' to handle, and they will butcher them anyway,' my Latin American friends say when explaining why they hyphenate or use a single last name for their publications. ... This is not an isolated issue for Latino and Hispanic scientists; it also affects members of other groups whose names do not conform to a 'first-name last-name' norm. And insisting on being able to present our names as we choose is not 'picky' or 'capricious.' It is a matter of respect for our identities as scientists and as citizens of the world. ...

My mate and I encountered this "you're doing it wrong" attitude in the 1990s. When he and I married in 1993, we decided to both hyphenate our surnames. Before marriage, my surname was O'Moore, and his was Klopf. So we both took the surname O'Moore-Klopf. Now, we're privileged white people, yet he still caught grief for the first few years that he had the new surname, because, you know, "men don't hyphenate"! That annoyed both of us so much. All these years later, we have two grown sons who inherited the surname O'Moore-Klopf.

"When in doubt, ask scientists how they would like to be addressed. When you cite their work, check their previous publications, their ORCID account, and their web pages. Next time you add a paper to your reference manager, double-check the author line to ensure the system has imported it correctly. Above all, make sure researchers from all backgrounds have the opportunity to claim their identities and feel validated in their workplaces."


Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Dear Newly Self-Employed Editors . . . Here's an Update

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post because I "wanted newbies to know that I have hard days too—and that I love freelancing despite those days." Well, it's 2021 and I'm still self-employed, and there has been a pandemic, so it's time for an update.

My children are now 19, 26, and 38. And for the last couple of years, I have been the daytime caregiver for my elderly mother-in-law, who lives in my intergenerational household. She has dementia and is now 86 years old; she also has type 2 diabetes, as I do. While all the other adults are out of the house at their day jobs, I provide her with nutritious meals and monitor her blood sugar levels and adjust as needed the amount of insulin that I inject her with.

The 19- and 26-year-olds still live here, along with the 26-year-old's mate and their now 6-year-old daughter (our brilliant and fun youngest grandchild). (The 38-year-old, who is the mother of our two older wonderful grandchildren, comes by on Friday nights to hang out with us.) The 6-year-old is attending kindergarten remotely here at home, because we're wary of exposure to COVID-19 from outsiders. (All 6 adult family members who live in our home now have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine; all second doses will have been had by the end of this month.)

My office is still in my kitchen, even though my handy guys (my husband and our two adult sons) have built me a lovely 12 foot × 12 foot office in our backyard. If they ever quit having to work overtime on Saturdays (they're all cabinetmakers) and it quits raining here on Sundays, we'll move me out there, and I'll be delighted. But I'll still be my mother-in-law's caretaker.

Fortunately, the county agency for the aging has grants that fund the services of a health-care aide who works here to take care of my mother-in-law on 4 days of each week, for 5 hours each day. This does give me some mental space for working, but not as much as I want, of course.

The woman who would become my mother-in-law used to commute by train to her job in Manhattan, just as I did: she was a designer of children's clothing for a clothing manufacturer; I was a full-time employee for a publisher. We became such good friends that she introduced me to her only son in 1992. He and I fell in love very quickly, and we married in 1993. It is that great gift of hers that helps me continue to provide care for her on the days when things get tough.

And yes, I still do find joy in being self-employed.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jargon and Plain Language in Science Writing

My authors who write reports on their research for publication in medical journals tend to use a lot of jargon. I try to help them make their writing easier to understand for the very reason discussed in this New York Times article:

"[A] team of researchers has analyzed jargon in a set of over 21,000 scientific manuscripts. They found that papers containing higher proportions of jargon in their titles and abstracts were cited less frequently by other researchers. Science communication—with the public but also among scientists—suffers when a research paper is packed with too much specialized terminology, the team concluded."

I'm not at all suggesting that my authors completely eliminate jargon in such reports. But I ask them to use plainer language wherever possible, and even to define some of the terms, because people other than their departmental supervisor, who insisted that true professionals write impenetrable prose, are going to read their articles. And those people need to be able to understand the articles so that nonscientists in government and in the general public don't make unscientific decisions concerning public health and the environment.

Take a look at this blog post by my colleague Mike Pope on "good" and "bad" jargon.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

JAMA Deputy Editor Is Fired After Denying the Existence of Structural Racism

Edward H. Livingston, MD, a white man and the deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, hosted a podcast in which he questioned the existence of structural racism: "Structural racism is an unfortunate term. Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many of us are offended by the concept that we are racist."

And such behavior is exactly how structural racism is perpetuated.

Thank goodness that after public outcry, JAMA's editor-in-chief asked for and accepted Livingston's resignation.

And the American Medical Association itself issued a statement:

"To be clear, structural racism exists in the U.S. and in medicine, genuinely affecting the health of all people, especially people of color and others historically marginalized in society. This is not opinion or conjecture, it is proven in numerous studies, through the science and in the evidence. As physicians, and as leaders in medicine, we have a responsibility to not only acknowledge and understand the impact of structural racism on the lives of our patients, but to speak out against racial injustices wherever they exist in health care and society. ...

"Importantly, the AMA is investigating the circumstances that led up to the podcast and tweet and will make the changes necessary to address them. The AMA and JAMA have taken immediate actions in this past week, and more will follow. ..."

________________________

Sources:


#structural #racism #racist #medicine #editors #editing #JAMA #AMA #EditorMom

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Building Author–Editor Relationships

Orthopedic surgeons Dr. Jing-Chuan Sun, Dr. Chen Yan, Dr. Hao-Yuan Tan, and Dr. Huai-Cheng Jia, all from China.

It's always so satisfying to establish a good working relationship with my authors. After working through 2 revisions of a manuscript for a research report on a procedure for repairing spinal cord problems, I told the corresponding author that I like to have photos of my authors so that I can picture them helping patients in doing the procedures and techniques that they research.

This made my author happy. He said, "I am very glad to do it like this."

So this an operating-room photo of 4 of the 15 authors of the manuscript. Left to right, they are Dr. Jing-Chuan Sun, Dr. Chen Yan (the corresponding author), Dr. Hao-Yuan Tan, and Dr. Huai-Cheng Jia, all from China. The patients on whom they and their coauthors operated and whose cases they studied to determine best practices for a particular surgical technique came through any of 7 different hospitals: Changzheng Hospital, Changhai Hospital, Shanghai First People’s Hospital, Linzhou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Fifth Hospital of Southern Medical University, Shenzhen Hospital of Beijing University, and General Hospital of Nanjing Military Command.

I'm so glad to know that these surgeons—and all of my other surgeon-authors—are out there working to make life better for so many patients. And it is an honor to be entrusted with editing for them so that they can share their research findings with English speakers around the world.



Thursday, August 20, 2020

How Self-Employed Editorial Pros Can Use Social Media to Get Work

I don't understand why self-employed editorial pros don't find social media useful for getting work. And I'm an introvert.

I’ve long used LinkedIn, along with Twitter and Facebook, not to ask people for work or referrals but to post links to articles about editing, medical editing, and self-employment to make clear that I have a wide and deep knowledge of editing and to sound so interesting (in my commentary on the linked articles) that people think of me whenever they need a medical editor. This is not sales or bragging; it’s sharing knowledge and resources. And it works well for me. I get inquiries from potential clients and referrals from colleagues because of it.

It's not that you do sales pitches on social media. You just must be consistently present, in the particular venues that feel comfortable to you, and you share ideas and information about the things you know about in your profession. You don't brag, and you don't say, "I'm sharing this because I want you to see how smart and skilled I am." You just share helpful stuff and answer questions about it when asked. You'll be remembered as that helpful person who has #editing or proofreading or indexing experience in, for example, astronomy or animal health or human rights or public education.

Remember, this technique doesn't work overnight. It's part of playing the long game of marketing.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Epicene "They" Spreads to Science and Medical Writing

Epicine "they"
Even writing in medical journals, often seen as being very formal academic-speak, is now using singular "they," also referred to as "epicene 'they.' "

You can find evidence of this in section 11.12.2 of the new 11th edition of the AMA Manual of Style:


Avoid sex-specific pronouns in cases in which sex specificity is irrelevant. Do not use common-gender "pronouns" (eg, "s/he," "shem," "shim"). Reword the sentence to use a singular or plural non–sex-specific pronoun, neutral noun equivalent, or change of voice; or use "he or she" ("him or her," "his or her[s]," "they or their[s]"). The use of the "singular they" construction is permitted when rewriting would be awkward or unclear (see 7.2.3.2, Pronoun-Pronoun Agreement).


The post "Singular They" on the AMA Style Insider blog talked about this before the manual's 11th edition was published:

The AMA Manual of Style will follow suit [ie, follow the lead of the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style] with the next edition, allowing the use of plural pronouns with singular indefinite antecedents (eg, Everyone allocates their time) in an effort to avoid sex-specific pronouns and awkward sentence structure.


If you are a paying member of the Council of Science Editors, you can read more about the history of epicine "they" in the article "The Epicene Solution" in the spring 2020 issue (volume 43, issue 1) of the journal Science Editor.


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