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"Working together across borders and nationalities to advance our knowledge"

"Working together across borders and nationalities to advance our knowledge"

Please tell us about your academic and career background

I am an environmental scientist with more than 20 years of experience in environmental quality studies, geochemistry, aquatic cleanup and source control, and the development of regulatory programs. I have primarily worked in the area of cleaning up contamination in rivers and harbors, and plan to work more in the future on restoring habitat for fish and wildlife. I hold a BS in Chemistry from Caltech, an MS in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences from MIT, and a PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA. 

I have authored numerous journal articles, government reports, training manuals, and several non-fiction books and book chapters. [
Currently, 16 articles have been published.] I have also served as a peer reviewer for several scientific journals, including Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, and Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management. As an editor, I specialize in technical manuscripts and reports, educational materials, foreign language translations, and English-language editing for international scientific publications. I love to travel and hope to eventually “retire” through continuing my international editing for Editage, Cactus Communications, while visiting and living in different parts of the world.

What attracts you to be an editor?

I enjoy being kept up to date on areas of science that had not even been invented yet when I was in college. I find myself much more knowledgeable in the latest aspects of chemistry, biology, and medicine than I was before beginning this work. I prefer variety in my work, and I enjoy never knowing in which field the next assignment may be; each one offers new knowledge and a different view of the scientific world.

In addition, it’s gratifying to take a paper with high-quality science that is difficult to read and polish it into a professional presentation, both from an English and a formatting standpoint. I am happy to play a small part in advancing the science by ensuring that important work is publishable. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to publish in Korean or Chinese or Brazilian, and I really feel for the authors. Being a scientist myself and a peer reviewer, I also appreciate the opportunity to conduct a higher-level edit and peer review of the science in papers. I believe this provides a significant service, particularly to newer researchers, in giving the authors an opportunity to improve their manuscript and chances of acceptance.

I am an environmental scientist with more than 20 years of experience in environmental quality studies, geochemistry, aquatic cleanup and source control, and the development of regulatory programs. I have primarily worked in the area of cleaning up contamination in rivers and harbors, and plan to work more in the future on restoring habitat for fish and wildlife. I hold a BS in Chemistry from Caltech, an MS in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences from MIT, and a PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA.

What are the skills required for high quality editing?

For me, high-quality editing is provided by attention to detail and both curiosity and respect for the science. The basic skills are a given after 20 years of technical and scientific writing, but providing the manuscript your full attention is important, so I try not to edit when I’m tired, rushed, or distracted by other things. I spend time with each new paper ensuring that I understand the science well enough to conduct a comprehensive edit without changing the meaning of the text or accuracy of the results.This sometimes requires reviewing portions of other papers in the field to determine exactly how a phrase should be worded or to determine what an author intends to convey. I also look through example articles from the journal that the author wishes to publish in to familiarize myself with the journal’s style and expectations, in addition to reading the instructions to authors. Overall, I take as much care with the manuscripts as I would with my own, and that sets the standard for quality.

Advice to junior editors on improving editing skills

If possible, maintain your own scientific interests by reading, publishing, and attending conferences. Staying engaged in the science really helps remind you of the value of what you are doing even when deadlines are short and the edit is stressful.Also, if you have learned English in a country in which another language is primary, it is important to realize that you may have learned patterns of English that are not prevalent in other parts of the world. This is particularly true if you read and edit papers from other authors whose first language is not English all day; it is easy to fall into similar patterns of speech and writing, some of which may be incorrect. In this situation, it may be helpful to read articles or go to talks by native English speakers from various countries to gain a better feel for stylistic issues that distinguish learned English from native English and American English from British English. Native English editors can also benefit from doing the same, since Americans may not be familiar with British English and vice versa. Finally, I do believe that the best editors have a very strong ethic with respect to detail. If you can feel pride in even such small things as finding a misplaced period in a reference, then you can be sure your client is receiving the best possible work product.

Message to your clients

Editage, Cactus Communications stands out in my experience for their attention to quality and to the growth of their editors through training and enrichment. They take care to make their editors and clients feel valued, and to go the extra mile. I appreciate the business model they have developed, in which we in America, Canada, Australia, or the UK can work together through a company in India with researchers in Asia, Europe, and South America to bring good science to the world. Here in the USA I work with young people to prepare them for making presentations at conferences and publishing their work, and I enjoy the opportunity to do the same with more established researchers – this fits my vision of how science should be, working together across borders and nationalities to advance our knowledge.

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