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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Editing Research: The Author Editing Approach to Providing Effective Support to Writers of Research Papers

Note: This is not a book review, because I am an expert quoted in the book. Even if I were not quoted, though, I would still think Editing Research to be a well-written, important resource for those who need to know more about editing for authors of scholarly manuscripts.

Valerie Matarese, a biomedical writer and editor, has written Editing Research: The Author Editing Approach to Providing Effective Support to Writers of Research Papers. If you do scholarly editing and work with authors (called author editing) who are non-native English speakers—or if you’d like to move into this specialty—this is the book you want.

Editing Research: The Author Editing Approach to Providing Effective Support to Writers of Research Papers
Matarese interviewed 8 experienced authors’ editors, including me, about many aspects of this editorial niche. Because there hasn’t been much documentation of this specialty, Matarese’s research is both valuable and immensely helpful to practitioners of authors’ editing and to those in other areas of publishing, such as journal publishers, journal editors-in-chief, journal staff members, and peer reviewers who aren’t familiar with what these practitioners do.

The following organizations and discussion lists for editorial professionals are quoted and/or profiled in the book:

Here is the table of contents:

Chapter 1: Aims and Challenges of Writing for Publication in Today’s Global Research Environment
The Research Publishing Landscape
The State of Scholarly Writing
The Internationalization of Scholarly Writing
Writing in Isolation
Less Support from Publishers

Chapter 2: Editing in the Sciences and Other Scholarly Disciplines
Editing Defined
The First Publishers and Editors
Levels of Editing
A Temporal Classification of Editing

Chapter 3: Authors Editors: Partners in Communication at the Service of Researchers and Editors
The First Authors' Editors
Development of Author Editing for Research
Do We Call Ourselves Authors' Editors?

Chapter 4: Authors’ Editors in Action: A Qualitative Research Foray
Research Design
Expert Informants
Bibliographic Research and Integration with Qualitative Research Findings

Chapter 5: View from the Academy: The Delicate Position of Editing Services among Needs and Concerns
Researchers’ Motivations to Seek Editing
Researchers’ Vocalization of the Editing Request
Alternative Academic Views of Editors and Editing

Chapter 6: Editing Research Articles and Other Genres for Publication in Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Journals
Substantive Editing of Research Papers
Author Editing Requires Dialog with Authors
Added Value for Researcher–Authors
Better Science Communication, Less Research Waste, and Safeguarded Investments
What Author Editing Is Not
Acknowledgments and Editing Certificates
The Impact of Editing

Chapter 7: Becoming and Being an Authors’ Editor
Career Path to Author Editing
Networks for Collegiate Exchange and Training Opportunities
Certificates of Achievement and Certification of Skills
Educational Background
Field Specialization
Multilingualism and Multiculturalism
Rapport with Clients

Chapter 8: The Editing Setting
Autonomous Editing (Freelance Editors)
Research Center Editing (In-house Editors)
Service Provider Editing (Editors Working through an Intermediary)
The Business of Author Editing

Chapter 9: Editing Scholarly Genres for Other Media: Common Goals but Unique Issues
Grant Applications
Lay Summaries
Press Releases
Web Content and Other Digital Media
Theses and Dissertations

Chapter 10: Synthesis and Projection
What We Have Learned So Far
What We Have Yet to Learn
Advice to Authors’ Editors
Advice to Research Administrators
The Future of Author Editing

Appendix 1: Membership Associations of Particular Relevance to Authors’ Editors
Appendix 2: Peer-Reviewed Journals of Relevance to Author Editing

Updated September 2, 2016: Copyediting newsletter has posted a review of the book on its blog.

Editing Research: The Author Editing Approach to Providing Effective Support to Writers of Research Papers, by Valerie Matarese. Publisher: Information Today, Inc. Available in paperback (ISBN: 978-1-57387-531-8; US$49.50; preorder price: $34.65); Kindle version coming soon. 244 pages.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Busting the Myth of the Feast-or-Famine Cycle

Dear self-employed editorial colleagues:

It's a myth that our workflow must be in a perpetual feast-or-famine cycle.

If you do at least a few small marketing activities every day (or every business day), even when you have enough work and even when you feel panicky about lack of work, you can eventually get to the point where work finds you instead of the case always being that you must find the work. I’ve been self-employed for 21 years now, and this has happened for me. It has happened for other freelancers I know who have been in the game for a long time.

No, marketing doesn’t mean going around plastering messages everywhere like “I’m the best [editor, proofreader, indexer, designer, etc.] ever” or “Please send me a project so that I can pay my mortgage [or rent].” So many freelancers say things like “I don’t want to blow my own horn.” But that’s not what marketing is.

All that marketing means is doing things so that you’re visible online where your target clients can find you. It means sharing knowledge, not bragging. It can involve teaching courses (to potential clients to show your expertise), writing blog posts, being active in professional associations so that colleagues see what you can do and will think of you for referrals, being active on professional email lists (such as Copyediting-L) and in Facebook editors' groups, posting articles and status updates to LinkedIn, writing articles for professional newsletters and journals, and tweeting about your profession without saying, “Please contract with me now!” It doesn’t have to be done in every possible venue either; choose a few that feel natural to you and start talking.

It’s not going to happen within just a couple of weeks, and you’ll have to be dedicated to marketing your business. Also, not every marketing activity has to be a huge, time-consuming project. There are lots of little things you can do.

You might find these blog posts of mine helpful:

If you’re an introvert, don’t let that stop you. I’m one, and I’m all over the Internet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to Be a Good Mentor

I've mentored many editors, including generalists and medical editors, over the years and have developed mentoring practices that work well. The practices that Kelleen Flaherty,* a fellow member of the American Medical Writers Association, described for mentoring medical writers in a recent article in the AMWA Journal are in line with what I do. If you mentor colleagues, consider adapting her practices to your situation:

  1. Provide general, concrete guidelines to a mentee. No details, just generalities.
  2. Never tell your mentee what to do. Guide them to finding it out on their own.
  3. Provide structure without specifics. If you edit excessively, they will not develop the critical thinking skills essential to being a good medical writer. Circle something and say “style,” not “You need a comma here and this is a compound modifier that requires a hyphen.” Use “clarity,” “organization,” and “grammar” as general prompts—do not provide corrections. Provide deadlines, guidelines, and examples, and let them fill in the blanks.
  4. When your mentee hits a wall, that’s good. There is no better learning experience. You must convince your mentee that it’s good to have had that experience. This is not a platitude; it is a solid truth. Real science works this way, real life works this way, real jobs work this way. Nothing works perfectly. Nothing. Your survey doesn’t always work. The editor of a journal doesn’t always want to publish your manuscript. Good! Get rejected! Now you know how to get rejected! This person knows more about the industry than someone who has never hit a bump.
  5. When a mentee hits a bump, assess your substrate. How do you assist the mentee over the bump? Different substrates require different assists. “Man up” works for some, “Step away from it for a few days and go camping” works for others, while still others might need a 2-hour you-can-do-it-I-have-faith-in-you phone call.
  6. Understand your mentee’s limitations. Some have some significant ones. Age, maybe, fear, mental challenges (attention deficit disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum, etc), physical disorders, or family issues. When you’re a mentor, you’re going to get more confessions than any other teacher is going to get. It’s private and absolutely none of your business and you’d never ask, but when the information is offered, it helps you understand more about where your student is coming from.
  7. How do I get a job? That’s a major fear with new medical writers—it’s a major fear with experienced jobless medical writers. Counsel them in job-hunting, cold-calling, networking, working with recruiters, and listing themselves on job sites; review their writing tests if they get them, and review their résumés or [curricula vitae]; write recommendations for them or otherwise serve as [a reference].
  8. Do not lie. If they have limitations, as a mentor, you are ethically obliged to make them aware of them. This is tough. There are always positives (“You really know your reg guidelines”), and you should start with those. If their organization, clarity, or grammar is compromised, you need to let them know. This does not mean they are unfit medical writers, only that they have limitations. With the structure of a particular job environment, you never know how they’ll do.
  9. Provide the basic mechanics of professional guidelines. How do you write emails? Answer job posts? Engage in professional organizational discussion boards? Create a Web page? Work on social media? Hook them up with the right professionals in the field for advice (and hook them up with AMWA as soon as they start their studies. I’m not shilling here; this is just a fact). 
  10. ... [C]are deeply about your charges, and let it show. Let them know they can talk to you. Respect them. And of course, you should have every expectation that the respect is reciprocal.

Watch for my own article on how to treat your mentor in the August–September 2016 issue of Copyediting newsletter, available through a paid subscription.

Flaherty is an adjunct assistant professor in the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia Graduate Biomedical Writing Programs, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have reprinted a segment of her article from the AMWA Journal with her permission. The full article is available online only to AMWA members: Flaherty K. Mentoring new medical writers [in the column Commonplaces]. AMWA Journal. 2016;31(2):64–67.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Editing Software and Macro Packages I Use

A colleague asked what editing software I use. I'm happy to share that information, but what works for one editor may not be a good fit for other editors who work on manuscripts in different genres or even in different industries. I'm a medical editor, and here's my list:

  • Macros for Editors, a free downloadable book of more than 450 macros for use in automating editing tasks
  • FileCleaner, a collection of macros that cleans up common problems in electronic manuscripts within Microsoft Word, including multiple spaces, multiple returns, unnecessary tabs, and improperly typed ellipses (available for Windows and Macintosh)
  • ListFixer, a collection of macros that fixes problems with automatically numbered lists and bulleted lists within Microsoft Word (available for Windows and Macintosh)
  • NoteStripper, a collection of macros that allows the user to do several things within Microsoft Word to embedded and automatically numbered references and endnotes, including (1) stripping notes to or from the ends of sections or from the end of a document and (2) turning inline tagged notes into embedded notes (available for Windows and Macintosh)
  • PerfectIt, a program for enforcing consistency on many levels throughout a manuscript (available for Windows and Macintosh)
  • ReferenceChecker, a macro that works within Microsoft Word to verify whether each entry in a reference list is cited correctly in a manuscript; works with name–date citations and with numbered citations (available only for Windows). [Updated March 10, 2017.] Note: March 10, 2017, is the last day that you can buy and download a license for ReferenceChecker. It will no longer be sold by GoodCitations.com but will continue to work, depending on the version of Microsoft Word that you have, if you have downloaded the software and purchased a license.
The Editorium, which creates and sells several of the Word add-ins and macro packages listed above, has other programs that editors find useful.

EditTools is a package of editing macros (available only for Windows) from wordsnSync that is frequently updated. As of this writing, it contains 36 macros to automate editing tasks, including Reference Number Order Check, the only macro I'm aware of that has been written to take human error out of the process of renumbering lists of out-of-order references.

For links to many more programs, macro packages, applications, blog posts, and style guides for editors, see the "Editing Tools" page of my Copyeditors' Knowledge Base.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Surviving Self-Employment When You're a Parent

I've been self-employed for 21 years, for the entire life-spans of two of my three children and now with three grandchildren around, so I know just how challenging it is to juggle parenting and freelancing, just as it is to juggle parenting and in-house employment. Erin Brenner has tips for surviving.

To the links she shares, I would add these:

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Certificate Program and Certification Are Not the Same

Obtaining a certificate is not the same as achieving professional certification.

Please note that certificate programs can be very valuable. But I want to make sure that editorial professionals don't think they're the same as certification. Someone on one of the profession-related email discussion lists that I subscribe to conflated the two concepts today.

Directory listing for an editor with BELS certification
When you are given a certificate, it is a usually a piece of paper noting that you have completed a course or a series of courses. In contrast, certification requires that you have professional experience and have passed a thorough assessment examination. Passing the examination allows you to use a specific professional designation after your name. For example, because I have achieved certification as an editor in the life sciences, I am allowed to use the professional designation ELS after my name.

The page "Professional Certification vs. Certificate Program" of the website of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has a good discussion of the differences between the two concepts. Scroll down to the heading "Difference Between Professional Certification and Certificate Program." The chart in that section is especially helpful.

The United States does not have any organizations that provide certification of general editing proficiency. Note, however, that the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences provides certification of editing proficiency in the life sciences, and the Society for Technical Communication, whose membership includes writers and editors, provides certification of technical communicators [updated August 11, 2016].

Editors Canada is one of several professional associations outside the United States that does provide general certification. Updated: Editors who live outside Canada can take the organization's certification examinations. The "Qualifying for the Tests" page of the organization's website says:

If you work in English—no matter what country you live in—you're welcome to take the Editors Canada certification tests. The benefits of Editors Canada certification are recognized worldwide.

Editors Canada now offers a remote testing option through which candidates can write anywhere, by organizing their own test location and invigilator [updated July 29, 2019].

For more information, write to info@editors.ca.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

How to Become a Medical Editor

There is no standardized process for becoming a medical editor. But in a guest post on The Editors' Weekly, the blog of Editors/Réviseurs Canada, I provide a map for one way to do it.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

One Editor's Editing Process

Editing just means reading and looking for typos, right? Wrong. In a guest post on the blog of the Indian Copyeditors Forum, I lay out the steps I follow in editing medical-journal manuscripts.

If you follow additional steps or a different set of steps in your process, please share them in the comments so lots of editors can benefit.

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