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science writing/editing

Postby Rachel » Mon May 16, 2005 6:36 pm

I am currently a postdoc in chemistry. I have been thinking of leaving the lab to get a job as an editor for academic journals or textbooks. Does anyone have advice for me during this attempted career move (ie, how should I begin networking, what professional organizations should I join, is there any specific training I should obtain, etc.)? Also, what is a normal workday like for an editor? What are some typical responsibilities for newcomers to science editing?
Thanks,
Rachel
Rachel
 

science writing/editing

Postby Doug » Mon May 16, 2005 10:52 pm

Think about why you want to leave the bench for the editorial world. It's really important, even more than in other career transitions, to WANT to be in an editorial position. Why? The positions don't pay that well, and there isn't really "rapid" advancement. An entry-level editorial position pays only little more than a typical post-doc, even in a large city. A scientific background helps, but you may well need some evidence of editorial skills or experience. Chat up some reps from some of the publishing houses at the next meeting you attend...they'll provide more insight.
Reading all the above, I hope it doesn't come across as too negative. If you truly enjoy facilitating the publishing process and working with academics to help their books get published, do so. But keep an open mind about it.
Doug
 

science writing/editing

Postby MPB » Wed May 18, 2005 9:17 pm


In fact, editors in medical publishing, especially those with PhDs, can do quite well financially. You can do even better if you have the skills and the personality to freelance. There are also routes to higher-level positions that involve strategic thinking, especially in publication special projects (working with pharma companies), advertising, marketing, and PR companies, all of which hire editors.

Rachel, you should try to search for some of my posts on medical writing, a lot of the comments will apply. If you still have questions, post them and I will tell you what I can. I have worked as a medical writer and editor for the last 10 years or so; mostly freelance, but also some in-house jobs.

MPB
 
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science writing/editing

Postby Doug » Wed May 18, 2005 11:07 pm

With all due respect, I've been told directly by editors (junior and senior) at several major academic publishing houses that editing tends to NOT be a terribly lucrative career path (generally, I've been told most editors would earn less than tenure-track positions). I was addressing the question of editing for journals and textbooks. It seems that medical/pharam writing and editing (corporate-style) and academic writing and editing may be two different beasts. I'd be interested in knowing about any similarities and/or differences.
Doug
 
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

science writing/editing

Postby MPB » Thu May 19, 2005 12:44 am


Oh sure, working at an academic publisher is probably terrible. But academic publishing is a miniscule proportion of the editorial job market. There is a demand for medical and scientific editors at pharma companies, societies (eg, American Heart Association), marketing and PR companies, contract research organizations, etc, etc. Go to a big east-coast city newspaper "help wanted" section and search for "editor" or "editorial" and see what comes up. In my experience, people often start out at an academic shop, but once they figure out how poorly they are getting paid, they leave for a better job someplace else.

The other thing is that the term "editor" covers a lot of different jobs, with different salaries and responsibilies. You have copy editors at the bottom, fixing grammar and consistency. You have mid-rank editors overseeing individual projects, and aquisitions editors, and managing or supervising editors keeping the whole thing on track, whether it's a magazine, book series, or an editorial services company, and editorial directors at the top, who do little or no actual editing. Then there are the freelancers, who get paid more to specific jobs, but accept the risk of having to find their own work. There is no one job of "editor."

I do agree that you need to have a desire to do this kind of work. You need to have a good grasp of English grammar to begin with, and coming from an academic background, you will probably need some training to get started. For medical writing, the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) offers editing courses, and they even have a certification ("Editor in the Life Sciences," or ELS). Or you can try to get some kind of entry-level job where you are going to get some training.

It isn't Shangrai-La, but there are worse ways to make a living for someone with an advanced degree who is ready to move on from lab work.

MPB
 
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm


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