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My story as a scientific editor

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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby RGM » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:50 pm

PACN wrote:I also agree with Michael J. that being able to recognize what is hot in science is essential. I'll add that, depending on your position and journal, you might have to stretch a lot beyond your field. I think having a breadth of knowledge beyond your field really helps.


As a reader/submitter of scientific journals I have at times felt what was "hot" was not truly hot. I've also seen topics that were published in a C/N/S paper one year, and then 1-2 years later once the authors had the fully fleshed out details for the follow up paper flatly turned down.

In my opinion, you'd think the C/N/S journal would want the follow up where more was discovered and functional differences were demonstrated.

PACN: Is "what's hot" decided only by the editor, or do a group of you sit around and discuss/vote on it? As I feel what's hot is often subjective. Unless it's some "WOW" discovery like the structure of a relevant membrane protein.
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby AGG » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:55 am

PACN wrote:Adrian,I think you need a thesis and a few papers under your belt. It definitely helps to be already familiar with the process of scientific publishing. All the science editors and writers here have PhDs. I think that will be true at the majority of journals, although only having worked at one, I can't say for sure.


That's the impression I've got from adverts round here - it seems that there are a great many positions where supposedly you don't need a PhD to get in, but in practice finding someone without one in the role is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It's very hard to get past that, because this (geographical) area is so saturated with PhDs. It is good to get straight advice, rather than blather - a particularly good example of this was the person I contacted anonymously (via a careers service) who gave me the opposite answer to the same question I'd asked when I'd met him in the flesh. I have to say that it confirmed my opinion of him...

Thanks,

Adrian
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby Michael J. » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:17 am

PACN wrote:Is "what's hot" decided only by the editor, or do a group of you sit around and discuss/vote on it? As I feel what's hot is often subjective. Unless it's some "WOW" discovery like the structure of a relevant membrane protein.


The journal I'm applying to work for has a three-step phase to decide what goes out for review. The first step is to give the manuscript to a freelance scientific editor who can sum up the manuscript regarding its novelty and if it "would change the introduction slides to a seminar on that topic". The freelance editor drafts an accept or reject letter. The second step is for a senior editor to review the summaries and either accept the freelancer's decision or not. The third step takes place if the senior editor does not agree with the freelancer. At this point, the entire editorial board and other experts are sought to help make a decision. Not all journals use freelancers, but high-impact journals have A LOT of papers they need to weed through and it doesn't seem very easy to pick out the winners. The system is far from perfect.

That said, the PLoS model suggests that each paper should be rated on its own merit, rather than the journal it was published in. I think online ratings and stats are going to change the world of scientific publishing very soon.
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby RGM » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:18 pm

Michael J. wrote:
PACN wrote:Is "what's hot" decided only by the editor, or do a group of you sit around and discuss/vote on it? As I feel what's hot is often subjective. Unless it's some "WOW" discovery like the structure of a relevant membrane protein.


The journal I'm applying to work for has a three-step phase to decide what goes out for review. The first step is to give the manuscript to a freelance scientific editor who can sum up the manuscript regarding its novelty and if it "would change the introduction slides to a seminar on that topic". The freelance editor drafts an accept or reject letter. The second step is for a senior editor to review the summaries and either accept the freelancer's decision or not. The third step takes place if the senior editor does not agree with the freelancer. At this point, the entire editorial board and other experts are sought to help make a decision. Not all journals use freelancers, but high-impact journals have A LOT of papers they need to weed through and it doesn't seem very easy to pick out the winners. The system is far from perfect.

That said, the PLoS model suggests that each paper should be rated on its own merit, rather than the journal it was published in. I think online ratings and stats are going to change the world of scientific publishing very soon.



Very, very interesting! Regarding merit, all I'm going to say is impact factors are not arbitors of excellence. They are meaningless values. If someone wants more clarification just let me know.
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby PACN » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:46 pm

What's hot will always be subjective, but it is only one aspect of a story. Being in a hot area might help an otherwise borderline paper, but a well done and definitive study in a less hot area will also probably be published at my journal. But by less hot, I don't mean less novel-- it still has to be a significant advance for the field.

At my journal, we make decisions (including whether or not to review)in consultation with our academic editorial board. In the case of a disagreement, the academic editor (who is a scientist in the field) always wins.
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby Ivo » Thu May 25, 2017 12:02 pm

Hi,

I know this topic is quite old, but I was wondering if you can give me some advice on how to get into the scientific editor career path, PACN? I have started applying for them, and have got a bit of interest and I've been asked to take the editing test. This may be a very stupid question, but I'm unsure as to how much proofreading an editor should be doing when given a raw manuscript.
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby PACN » Wed May 31, 2017 10:13 am

In my role, we did not do any proofreading of manuscripts. That was done by copy editors who had more training in English language/grammar. The only thing I read and commented on the writing was the front matter-- summaries of articles, interviews with authors, etc. My editing test was two fold: first and foremost, I had to read articles and decide whether they should be sent for review or not-- that was probably more than 50% of my job and the most important part of the interview process. I did that first as part of the phone interview and again in the in person. I was also asked to edit and comment on a summary someone else wrote about a paper as part of the in person interview. My edits/comments were minimal-- which was also true when I was in the job (our science writer who wrote those articles was very good and unlikely to be improved by me).
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby D.X. » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:35 am

Just wanted to comment, I know some People have entered this part via 3rd Party Medical Communication Agencies. They have started out as content Generators (medical writers) then gradaute to strategic Content reviewers usually as a Scientific/Medical Director from then on can go into copy edit - i knew one who went directly after that scientific director role to be editor of a scientific trade Magazine (very narrowed subject matter) but has since then grew in that area and as graduated to more well known scientic trade journals/magazines as editor in chief.

Best, DX
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby Himanshi » Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:57 am

Hi PACN,

It is really good to hear about your journey. Having spent almost a year as a post-doctorate, I too am at a stage where I want to switch to a career not confined to a lab.

I am very passionate about writing and editing, and have worked as a freelance editor in the past. I would like to know more about how you started networking and landed up with this job. Also, exactly what are the recruiters looking for in the candidate?
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Re: My story as a scientific editor

Postby PACN » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:35 am

I didn't get this job through networking-- it was a straight application to an advertisement (here in Science, actually). Admittedly not the recommended approach, but sometimes it works! I think what landed me the interview was my scientific credentials and particularly my broad background--I had experience in a variety of fields and interdisciplinary work, which was useful for a more general journal. I'm sure that will vary by journal, as some are looking for people with much more specialized expertise, but this one was looking for someone who could evaluate papers in a variety of subfields. Once I had the interview, it was all about preparation and performance on the skills test.
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