Saturday, June 17, 2017

Should you be using a professional editor?

Posted by Richard Primack 

“Improve every opportunity to express yourself in writing as if it were your last.”
Thoreau in his Journal, December 17, 1851.

What are the secrets or best practices to achieving balance between work and family life? A recent news article in Nature, Workplace habits: Full-time is full enough,” quotes several scientists describing their strategies. For many scientists achieving work-life balance means getting as much work done as possible in 40 hours per week, and devoting the rest of the time to family and personal life.

In the Nature article, I am quoted saying that I hire professional editors to help me work more efficiently in my position as a professor, textbook writer and editor. My comment inspired a post at the Dynamic Ecology blog, in which Meghan Duffy asks, “Haveyou ever used a professional editor for a proposal or manuscript?”. In a follow-up article, I share my experiences in working with professional editors, and I summarize some key points here (Got a professional editor?)

In this staged photo, Primack relaxes with the family dog, while a professional editor polishes a paper.


I often hire professional editors on a freelance basis to help me write scientific papers, grant proposals, chapters of my conservation biology textbooks, professional correspondence, popular articles, press releases, and oral presentations. Hiring an editor often makes the difference between meeting or missing deadlines, or handing in sloppy work or well-written papers.  

In my experience the best editors are advanced graduate students, post-docs, and early-career researchers working outside of tenure-track faculty positions. They are often excellent writers who want to make some extra money.

The amount of time needed by an editor depends on the document length, how much work the document needs, and the editor’s speed. Most recently, a professional editor spent 10 hours helping me on a grant proposal, 2 hours on an editorial for Biological Conservation, and 4 hours on a research article.

Working with editors can especially help scientists for whom writing is not a strength (including those for whom English is not their first language).

I think that working with a professional scientific editor can help many people in improving the chances of a grant being funded or a paper being accepted for publication.


   

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