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

Friday, December 03, 2021

The Stages of Life and Being a Freelance Editor

My family and I are dealing with change, and two of the the things it will do for me are (1) decrease stress levels and (2) eventually allow me to get back to teaching editing courses and attending (virtual) editing conferences. I've missed teaching and intense learning so much!

My 86-year-old mother-in-law, who has dementia, has now been declared eligible for Medicaid* coverage, so she can get the constant support she needs in a long-term memory-care facility. This will be helpful for her, and it will provide reassurance and stress reduction for my family. I have been her daytime caregiver in our home for several years now, and things are at the point that we no longer feel that we can keep up with her care needs.

I'm posting this to let those of you new to freelancing know that your career in self-employment will go through stages over the years, and you can find ways to make it work.

Here are the stages that I edited through:

  • I began freelancing full time 2 weeks after my second child was born. I often ended up, when he was a baby, editing onscreen while he slept on my chest in a baby sling.
  • I had a third child 6 years later; baby-sling time again.
  • Had frequent #StetWalk** breaks necessitated by chasing toddlers around the house.
  • Took breaks from my computer to supervise homework sessions and to read with my kiddos.
  • Did parenting between editing bouts and during editing.
  • Relearned how to edit in total quiet while my kiddos were at school.
  • Lived through the kiddos' adolescence, years getting degrees, and years getting their first jobs, because they have lived with us as young adults and could always vent to me when they got home for the day or night.
  • Trained my retired in-laws, who lived with us, that "freelancing" does not mean "available to chat at every moment throughout the day."
  • Periodically got to lunch here at home with my mate, a cabinetmaker, who was self-employed for a time instead of being an employee who worked an hour away from home.
  • Took work breaks to assist my mother-in-law in providing care to my father-in-law, who had Alzheimer disease.
  • Realized that my exercise routine had become going down and then back up the stairs between the part of the house that is where my husband and I live and the part where my widowed mother-in-law was living, so that I could test her blood sugar three times a day and administer insulin, because she developed type 2 diabetes and felt overwhelmed at handling it all on her own.
  • Became my mother-in-law's daytime caregiver when it became apparent that she had dementia and needed me to make her healthy meals and needed supervision for daily life tasks.

And here I am, still editing. You too can do the tough things.

*Medicaid provides health-care coverage to Americans who qualify, including those with low incomes like my mother-in-law.

** https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/what-is-stetwalk

#editing #editor #freelancing #freelancer #selfemployment #caregiving #balance #dementia #Alzheimer #Medicaid #stamina #EditorMom

Friday, October 29, 2021

US Discrimination Against Chinese Scientists Is Harming Scientific Research

It is vital that that we in the USA consider what harm it is doing to scientific research to discriminate against Chinese scientists here in our nation. I edit for many Chinese scientists and physicians, and they do important work that is needed by the entire world. I respect them a great deal and wish that none of them ever encountered discrimination here or, while in China, from US science journals and textbook publishers.

As noted in the white paper "Racial Profiling Among Scientists of Chinese Descent and Consequences for the U.S. Scientific Community," about research conducted by Jenny J. Lee, Xiaojie Li, and the staff of the Committee of 100:

  "The problem of racial profiling in the scientific community will not be eradicated with the elimination of particular federal policies or the clarification of procedures alone. More work is needed to combat the current wave of anti-Asian hate in the U.S. Universities should consider similar studies to examine the campus racial climate. As exemplified by some scientists’ comments [in our study], anti-China sentiments within universities exist. Institutional studies might ask: How have the China Initiative, other anti-China policies, and anti-China rhetoric further fueled anti-Asian hate in academia and our university? How does anti-Asian racism negatively impact scientific discovery? How can decentralized institutional units, such as export control, internationalization, and faculty/student support, better align?

  "Greater advocacy and support for Asian scientists in the U.S. are especially needed in order for them to continue pursuing scientific inquiry across borders without fear of prejudice, profiling, or persecution. While intellectual security must remain a priority, so too must civil liberties be maintained. With that in mind, an enduring question for academic leaders, policymakers, and researchers remains: How can we maintain the spirit of international scientific collaboration while protecting intellectual property? While we continue to seek answers and propose better solutions, our attempts should carefully consider how we can uphold, rather than sacrifice, America’s academic freedom and global leadership in science."

Zhuo Chen, an author I have edited for in the past and someone I respect greatly, wrote a commentary on the white paper: "Crouching Trouble, Hidden Discrimination—the Predicament of Chinese Scientists in the United States." I agree strongly with what he says:

  "It is welcoming news that the Committee of 100 and Professor Lee have taken on this task to assess the impact of the discriminatory actions towards scientists of Chinese descent in the US. As Ambassador Gary Lock forcefully put in his remarks, 'The method the U.S. Justice Department has adapted through efforts such as the "China Initiative" results in unacceptable damage to the lives of innocent Chinese Americans and, if left uncorrected, will likely harm vital American economic and national security.' [6]  It is urgent to reverse the discriminatory practices and hate crimes—as the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the exposure and shutdown of the 'rogue' unit with the Department of Commerce have rightfully done. [7,8]"

And finally, as reported in the white paper by Lee et al, a non–Asian American professor of engineering said:

  "Finding a way to come together with China is necessary for the U.S. to advance in the 21st Century and beyond. The cultures of the world are bound together at this time so the sooner we realize this truth the better it will be for all people. Also, as we move into space exploration and understanding, working together with experts from China will accelerate the advancements to come. To not work together with China will greatly suppress the pace and impact of space initiatives. It will be a substantial setback. The 21st Century is, for the first time, a potentially united world in a broad sense. That is why connecting to China is so critical for all humanity."

You can download and read the white paper here.

You can download and read Zhuo Chen's commentary here.

If you have connections in the US science community, please consider sharing this post with them. That way, you can perhaps help reduce discrimination against Chinese scientists.

#science #research #China #Chinese #discrimination #publishing #journals #textbooks #editing #editors #EditorMom

Thursday, October 14, 2021

When the Freelance Work Well Runs Dry for a Bit

Fellow self-employed editors, I want you to know that you can find ways to survive difficult times.

I have been self-employed full time as an editor since 1995. I've always marketed my services by various means, and I have built up a good clientele over the years.

I thought that the COVID-19 pandemic wouldn't affect my workload; it didn't for the most part. But until just very recently, I had been very low on work for about 2 months, because so many of my physician-authors' studies—and thus the articles they would write about them—were put on hold because of COVID. I had been working extra hard on marketing to combat that, and working very, very hard not to let my chronic depression ramp up and overwhelm me.

But now things are getting back on track. Projects are coming in. Whew!

I am fortunate to have a mate whose income mostly covered our living expenses, though there have been tight times and he has had to work a lot of overtime to help bridge the financial gap. I realize, though, that some of you do not have a partner bringing in income, and that can be very difficult.

I am here to tell you that keeping up with my workday routines, including keeping in contact with you in Facebook groups, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and via email, helped keep me from going off the rails. The editorial community is a generous one, and I thank you for that. When your workload disappears for a while sometimes, do not drop out of touch with the community. Human support is vital.

Do not stop marketing, and that includes keeping in touch with the editorial community and with clients and related contacts.

Do not stop reading editing-related news.

If you can afford to do so, keep taking short courses and attending webinars to learn new things.

Do things that you normally enjoy doing. Do not lie down on the couch and stare at the TV for hours each day. If you were already taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds, do not stop taking those, because your life may depend on them.

Do not keep your fears about temporary work loss private from your non-editor friends. Friends are people who support each other. Ask for the time you need from your friends, even if, like I am, you are a major introvert.

Keep doing these things, and the work will come back. It will. You can do this.

#editor #editing #freelance #freelancer #career #workload #marketing #clientele# authors #pandemic #COVID19 #finances #learning #professionaldevelopment #stress #depression #fear #support #friends #EditorMom

Monday, June 21, 2021

Resources for Learning About Predatory Journals in Science

Both readers of science journals and researchers seeking to publish articles in science journals need to be aware of the damage that predatory journals can do to scientific truth and science careers. But what are predatory journals? And why are they dangerous?

An article from Nature says:

Predatory journals are a global threat. They accept articles for publication—along with authors' fees—without performing promised quality checks for issues such as plagiarism or ethical approval. Naive readers are not the only victims. Many researchers have been duped into submitting to predatory journals, in which their work can be overlooked. One study that focused on 46,000 researchers based in Italy found that about 5% of them published in such outlets. A separate analysis suggests predatory publishers collect millions of dollars in publication fees that are ultimately paid out by funders such as the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

If you're not familiar with the concept of predatory journals, here are some articles that can enlighten you:




Illustration by David Parkins of predatory journals. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03759-y

Unfortunately, some predatory journals have managed to make it into PubMed. Learn about that in the article "How Predatory Journals Leak into PubMed."

This post on the Scholarly Kitchen blog (produced by the Society for Scholarly Publishing) reviews the strengths, features, and weaknesses of the journals blacklist run since 2017 by Cabells, which is accessible only by researchers and institutions who can pay a large fee. Cabells set up its list after academic librarian Jeffrey Beall shut down his free list. Also see this article about Beall's list.

An annual meeting report in Science Editor, the journal of the Council of Science Editors, discusses the impact of predatory journals and how to identify them so that you can avoid them.

And finally, this website lists and links to suspected predatory journals. The site was set up by a small group of scholars and information professionals who wanted to anonymously resurrect Beall's list.

#science #journals #predatory #deception #research #peerreview #scholars #editorial #editing #quality #EditorMom

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. ..."



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

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