"Most of the manuscripts I review reflect high quality science."
Dr. Erin Reardon prefers to describe her career as a “work-in-progress” because learning, she believes, is a lifelong process. She has over 4 years of experience in academia and 11 published papers to her credit. Her earlier years in research were focused on physiological ecology and the impacts of hypoxia on tropical freshwater fishes. Over the past couple of years, she has been exploring the contribution of marine teleost (bony) fishes to the global marine inorganic carbon cycle. She finds this shift in her research focus both challenging and exciting as it has helped her develop new skill sets to facilitate the research.
How did you decide to enter the field of academic publishing?
I decided to enter the field of academic publishing at the end of my PhD while I was exploring options for the next step in my career (I was also applying for postdoctoral research funding). I viewed it as an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience with publishing and to help enhance my own writing and publishing career. I’ve found that I really enjoy reading and providing feedback on manuscripts through Editage/CACTUS and look forward to opportunities to contribute.
You are part of the Publication Support Services Team at Editage/CACTUS. How has this experience influenced your approach towards writing, editing, and publishing a manuscript?
My experience at Editage/CACTUS has helped me develop a more critical eye when it comes to writing, editing, and trying to publish my own work. It has become easier for me to spot gaps in logic and to polish manuscripts so that the take-home messages are clear and straightforward. In addition, before I start writing, I now spend more time thinking about the messages I’m trying to convey and how the work should be outlined. As a result, I am more efficient at writing and my manuscripts have improved in quality.
You are a published author and have served as a peer reviewer. Based on your own experience, how do you define a good/well-structured manuscript?
A good manuscript is one that has a clear and simply described message supported by each component of the manuscript (Introduction through to Discussion/Conclusions). For a manuscript to be good, all of its components need to flow and have a clear logical connection. Papers that have simple but clear linking statements between paragraphs together are often the best at conveying the logic and the importance of the research.
The Introduction should clearly identify the importance of the work and present the necessary background. This approach provides a framework that makes the rest of the manuscript easy to follow. The Methods and Results should be described succinctly and in enough detail to convey to the reader what was done. Lastly, but importantly, a good Discussion must place the findings in the context of the literature (with the background provided in the Introduction) and explain the implications of the work in broader contexts.
As an author, how did you go about selecting journals for the papers you published? Could you provide any journal selection tips for our authors?
For each of my papers, I have met with my co-authors (often before we begin writing the paper) and discussed the target audience for our work. This involves making a list of possible journals (based on literature cited and recently published work on similar topics) and deciding what we are looking for in terms of journal scope. We also undertake some research on the journals discussed. Often we short list the highest impact journal first and move down the list, if necessary. This collaborative process helps us decide what journal we should go for.
My suggestion to all authors would be to think about the target audience for their work as early as possible in the writing phase. Authors need to think about where their work will get the most exposure. Accordingly, they can build their manuscript such that it presents the ideal framework for their research. An ideal framework should showcase the novel aspects of the work and place it in a broad context that will be relevant for the target audience of the target journal.
How do you spend your time when you’re not helping authors get published? Your professional profile includes mention of a Wilderness First Aid certificate. That sounds interesting. Tell us something about that.
Well those are two good questions! I work a lot! When I’m not helping authors get published, I spend most of my time working as a research associate on a project focused on quantifying the contribution of marine teleosts (bony fishes) to the marine inorganic carbon cycle. This involves experimental work in several marine labs across the UK and Europe, mentoring students, and publishing my own papers.
When I’m not working, I love outdoor activities: coastal walks, wildlife viewing, fishing, surfing, photography, etc. When it comes down to it, my passion for biology and research stems from my long-standing love of the outdoors. The Wilderness First Aid certification is probably an indicator of this. During the end of my undergraduate degree and the beginning of graduate school, I spent several years as a recreational trip leader at the University of Florida. This involved organizing and leading student hiking and canoeing trips in Florida and other parts of the southeastern US. After moving to Montreal for my PhD, I maintained the Wilderness First Aid certification as I spent a lot of time outdoors both in Canada and during the fieldwork of my PhD in remote locations in western Uganda.
A few words for our clients…
Publishing manuscripts can often be a challenging process, but it is immensely rewarding when you receive the acceptance letter from an editor. Most of the manuscripts that I read and review for Editage reflect high quality science. I would encourage all authors to think more extensively about the implications of their research in wider, more global, contexts and about how they might include these implications in their manuscripts.