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As editors, we are on your side

As editors, we are on your side

Can you describe your career in brief? What did you major in? How did you determine to become a professional editor?

I have a broad range of practice in the life sciences, gained from both academia and working as a research scientist. I spent almost 20 years of my career working in research laboratories at the University of Cambridge and the John Innes Institute, Norwich, UK, primarily in the areas of bacteriology and plant molecular biology. I hold a PhD in insect conservation ecology from the University of Birmingham and an MSc in plant breeding and biotechnology from the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I have very first authored four academic papers (published in periodicals such as the Journal of Bacteriology and Biological Conservation) and have appeared as a contributing author on several others. My educational background and work practice are of particular advantage in my capacity as a senior editor at Cactus Communications, albeit I have to confess that I became an editor more by default than by design.

Which aspect of editing do you love the most?

In the world of science, the worth and career prospects of a researcher are typically based on his/her publication record. However, getting research published invariably means proficiency in written English. No matter how good the science, if a research paper is total of grammatical and typographical errors, awkwardly constructed sentences, etc., it has little hope of being published in a scientific journal. In this respect, I build up considerable satisfaction from converting something that will almost certainly be rejected on account of its poor language content into something that has a very good likelihood of being accepted. As I edit a manuscript, I am continually bearing in mind that the author’s future career may hinge on getting this particular manuscript into print, and that provides all the necessary incentive.

Is there anything specific you do to provide high-quality edits across various manuscripts?

The field of life science is so extensive that one can never be totally conversant with all the various disciplines and sub-disciplines. Moreover, science, particularly areas like molecular biology, is progressing at such a prompt tempo nowadays that it is virtually unlikely to keep abreast of all the latest developments. Consequently, I am often called upon to edit manuscripts the contents of which may be totally unacquainted. Accordingly, before commencing an edit, I often need to conduct extensive referencing of particular subject areas in order to build up familiarity with all the relevant concepts and terminology. And, having done so, documents that may have originally seemed incomprehensible are often seen in a fresh and clearer light.

What advice would you give to junior editors on how to sustain their interest in editing and provide the client with high-quality work?

As editors at Editage, we are providing a service, and our clients accordingly have certain expectations as to the quality of the service we produce. Thus, my advice to someone commencing an editing career with the company would be to put yourself in the place of a Japanese, Chinese, or Korean researcher pinning his/her hopes on the editor to revise, restructure, and format their valuable research report into something that is flawless in terms of English language content. Alternatively, I might say, imagine that the manuscript you are about to edit contains your own research findings, which you despairingly want to communicate to the world at large.

As an editor, how do you define a good English paper? And is there any advice for authors to improve their writing abilities?

For me, a good English paper is one that I can slide through effortlessly from commence to finish without being brought to an abrupt halt or having the read something twice because the meaning is unclear or there is some glaring error in the text. In other words, the text should have a logical flow and be free of evident typographical and grammatical errors and long rambling sentences. Authors wanting to improve their English writing abilities could begin off by scrutinizing research papers from reputable journals in their own field and/or in popular science journals such as Fresh Scientist and Scientific American, which are written in an lightly accessible style.

A few words for our clients…

Very first and foremost, as editors, we are on your side, we want to produce you high-quality documents, we want you to get your research papers published in the journal of your choice. Indeed, we get thrilled on learning that one of the manuscripts we have edited has been accepted for publication. Often, for various reasons, misunderstandings arise during the course of our editing; however, as clients, you always have the option of seeking and/or providing the necessary clarifications, such that outstanding problems can be suitably resolved. So, rather than viewing editing as some dislocated mechanical process, attempt to look upon the writing and editing of manuscripts as a collaborative team effort.

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Scientific Papers

Scientific Papers

Scientific papers are for sharing your own original research work with other scientists or for reviewing the research conducted by others. As such, they are critical to the evolution of modern science, in which the work of one scientist builds upon that of others. To reach their aim, papers must aim to inform, not impress. They must be very readable — that is, clear, accurate, and concise. They are more likely to be cited by other scientists if they are helpful rather than cryptic or self-centered.

Scientific papers typically have two audiences: very first, the referees, who help the journal editor determine whether a paper is suitable for publication; and 2nd, the journal readers themselves, who may be more or less knowledgeable about the topic addressed in the paper. To be accepted by referees and cited by readers, papers must do more than simply present a chronological account of the research work. Rather, they must coax their audience that the research introduced is significant, valid, and relevant to other scientists in the same field. To this end, they must emphasize both the motivation for the work and the outcome of it, and they must include just enough evidence to establish the validity of this outcome.

Papers that report experimental work are often structured chronologically in five sections: very first, Introduction ; then Materials and Methods. Results. and Discussion (together, these three sections make up the paper’s figure); and eventually, Conclusion .

  • The Introduction section clarifies the motivation for the work introduced and prepares readers for the structure of the paper.
  • The Materials and Methods section provides sufficient detail for other scientists to reproduce the experiments introduced in the paper. In some journals, this information is placed in an appendix, because it is not what most readers want to know very first.
  • The Results and Discussion sections present and discuss the research results, respectively. They are often usefully combined into one section, however, because readers can seldom make sense of results alone without accompanying interpretation — they need to be told what the results mean.
  • The Conclusion section presents the outcome of the work by interpreting the findings at a higher level of abstraction than the Discussion and by relating these findings to the motivation stated in the Introduction .

(Papers reporting something other than experiments, such as a fresh method or technology, typically have different sections in their figure, but they include the same Introduction and Conclusion sections as described above.)

Albeit the above structure reflects the progression of most research projects, effective papers typically break the chronology in at least three ways to present their content in the order in which the audience will most likely want to read it. Very first and foremost, they summarize the motivation for, and the outcome of, the work in an abstract, located before the Introduction. In a sense, they expose the beginning and end of the story — shortly — before providing the utter story. 2nd, they budge the more detailed, less significant parts of the bod to the end of the paper in one or more appendices so that these parts do not stand in the readers’ way. Ultimately, they structure the content in the figure in theorem-proof style, stating very first what readers must reminisce (for example, as the very first sentence of a paragraph) and then presenting evidence to support this statement.

For the object of the document,

  • use the document itself as the subject of the sentence: this paper. this letter. etc.;
  • use a verb voicing a communication act: presents. summarizes. etc.;
  • set the verb in the present tense.
  • The three examples below are suitable objects of the document for the three tasks shown above, respectively.

    This paper clarifies the role of CxHc on calcium oscillations in neonatal cardiac myocytes and calcium transients induced by ATP in HL-cells originated from cardiac atrium and in HeLa cells voicing connexin 43 or 26.

    This paper presents the flow effects induced by enhancing the hepatic-artery pressure and by obstructing the vena cava inferior.

    This paper discusses the theory behind oblivious hashing and shows how this treatment can be applied for local software tamper resistance and remote code authentication.

    The list below provides examples of verbs that express communication deeds:

    Scientific Papers

    Scientific papers are for sharing your own original research work with other scientists or for reviewing the research conducted by others. As such, they are critical to the evolution of modern science, in which the work of one scientist builds upon that of others. To reach their objective, papers must aim to inform, not impress. They must be very readable — that is, clear, accurate, and concise. They are more likely to be cited by other scientists if they are helpful rather than cryptic or self-centered.

    Scientific papers typically have two audiences: very first, the referees, who help the journal editor determine whether a paper is suitable for publication; and 2nd, the journal readers themselves, who may be more or less knowledgeable about the topic addressed in the paper. To be accepted by referees and cited by readers, papers must do more than simply present a chronological account of the research work. Rather, they must persuade their audience that the research introduced is significant, valid, and relevant to other scientists in the same field. To this end, they must emphasize both the motivation for the work and the outcome of it, and they must include just enough evidence to establish the validity of this outcome.

    Papers that report experimental work are often structured chronologically in five sections: very first, Introduction ; then Materials and Methods. Results. and Discussion (together, these three sections make up the paper’s figure); and ultimately, Conclusion .

  • The Introduction section clarifies the motivation for the work introduced and prepares readers for the structure of the paper.
  • The Materials and Methods section provides sufficient detail for other scientists to reproduce the experiments introduced in the paper. In some journals, this information is placed in an appendix, because it is not what most readers want to know very first.
  • The Results and Discussion sections present and discuss the research results, respectively. They are often usefully combined into one section, however, because readers can seldom make sense of results alone without accompanying interpretation — they need to be told what the results mean.
  • The Conclusion section presents the outcome of the work by interpreting the findings at a higher level of abstraction than the Discussion and by relating these findings to the motivation stated in the Introduction .
  • (Papers reporting something other than experiments, such as a fresh method or technology, typically have different sections in their bod, but they include the same Introduction and Conclusion sections as described above.)

    Albeit the above structure reflects the progression of most research projects, effective papers typically break the chronology in at least three ways to present their content in the order in which the audience will most likely want to read it. Very first and foremost, they summarize the motivation for, and the outcome of, the work in an abstract, located before the Introduction. In a sense, they expose the beginning and end of the story — shortly — before providing the utter story. 2nd, they budge the more detailed, less significant parts of the assets to the end of the paper in one or more appendices so that these parts do not stand in the readers’ way. Eventually, they structure the content in the bod in theorem-proof style, stating very first what readers must reminisce (for example, as the very first sentence of a paragraph) and then presenting evidence to support this statement.

    In the Introduction section, state the motivation for the work introduced in your paper and prepare readers for the structure of the paper. Write four components, most likely (but not necessarily) in four paragraphs: context. need. task. and object of the document.

  • Very first, provide some context to orient those readers who are less familiar with your topic and to establish the importance of your work.
  • 2nd, state the need for your work, as an opposition inbetween what the scientific community presently has and what it wants.
  • Third, indicate what you have done in an effort to address the need (this is the task).
  • Eventually, preview the remainder of the paper to mentally prepare readers for its structure, in the object of the document.
  • Context and need

    At the beginning of the Introduction section, the context and need work together as a funnel: They begin broad and progressively narrow down to the issue addressed in the paper. To spark interest among your audience — referees and journal readers alike — provide a compelling motivation for the work introduced in your paper: The fact that a phenomenon has never been studied before is not, in and of itself, a reason to probe that phenomenon.

    Write the context in a way that appeals to a broad range of readers and leads into the need. Do not include context for the sake of including context: Rather, provide only what will help readers better understand the need and, especially, its importance. Consider anchoring the context in time, using phrases such as recently. in the past Ten years. or since the early 1990s. You may also want to anchor your context in space (either geographically or within a given research field).

    Convey the need for the work as an opposition inbetween actual and desired situations. Embark by stating the actual situation (what we have) as a direct continuation of the context. If you feel you must explain latest achievements in much detail — say, in more than one or two paragraphs — consider moving the details to a section titled State of the art (or something similar) after the Introduction. but do provide a brief idea of the actual situation in the Introduction. Next, state the desired situation (what we want). Emphasize the contrast inbetween the actual and desired situations with such words as but. however, or unluckily .

    One elegant way to express the desired part of the need is to combine it with the task in a single sentence. This sentence voices very first the objective, then the act undertaken to reach this objective, thus creating a strong and elegant connection inbetween need and task. Here are three examples of such a combination:

    To confirm this assumption. we studied the effects of a range of inhibitors of connexin channels. on.

    To assess whether such multiple-coil sensors perform better than single-signal ones. we tested two of them — the DuoPXK and the GEMM3 — in a field where.

    To form a better view of the global distribution and infectiousness of this pathogen. we examined 1645 postmetamorphic and adult amphibians collected from 27 countries inbetween 1984 and 2006 for the presence of.

  • use the document itself as the subject of the sentence: this paper. this letter. etc.;
  • use a verb voicing a communication act: presents. summarizes. etc.;
  • Most Materials and Methods sections are boring to read, yet they need not be. To make this section interesting, explain the choices you made in your experimental procedure: What justifies using a given compound, concentration, or dimension? What is special, unexpected, or different in your treatment? Mention these things early in your paragraph, ideally in the very first sentence. If you use a standard or usual procedure, mention that upfront, too. Do not make readers guess: Make sure the paragraph’s very first sentence gives them a clear idea of what the entire paragraph is about. If you feel you cannot or need not do more than list items, consider using a table or perhaps a schematic diagram rather than a paragraph of text.

    Results and discussion

    The traditional Results and Discussion sections are best combined because results make little sense to most readers without interpretation.

    When reporting and discussing your results, do not force your readers to go through everything you went through in chronological order. Instead, state the message of each paragraph upfront: Convey in the very first sentence what you want readers to recall from the paragraph as a entire. Concentrate on what happened, not on the fact that you observed it. Then develop your message in the remainder of the paragraph, including only that information you think you need to persuade your audience.

    The conclusion

    In the Conclusion section, state the most significant outcome of your work. Do not simply summarize the points already made in the bod — instead, interpret your findings at a higher level of abstraction. Showcase whether, or to what extent, you have succeeded in addressing the need stated in the Introduction. At the same time, do not concentrate on yourself (for example, by restating everything you did). Rather, demonstrate what your findings mean to readers. Make the Conclusion interesting and memorable for them.

    At the end of your Conclusion. consider including perspectives — that is, an idea of what could or should still be done in relation to the issue addressed in the paper. If you include perspectives, clarify whether you are referring to hard plans for yourself and your colleagues (“In the coming months, we will. “) or to an invitation to readers (“One remaining question is. “).

    If your paper includes a well-structured Introduction and an effective abstract, you need not repeat any of the Introduction in the Conclusion. In particular, do not restate what you have done or what the paper does. Instead, concentrate on what you have found and, especially, on what your findings mean. Do not be afraid to write a brief Conclusion section: If you can conclude in just a few sentences given the rich discussion in the figure of the paper, then do so. (In other words, fight back the temptation to repeat material from the Introduction just to make the Conclusio n longer under the false belief that a longer Conclusion will seem more outstanding.)

    The abstract

    The readers of a scientific paper read the abstract for two purposes: to determine whether they want to (acquire and) read the total paper, and to prepare themselves for the details introduced in that paper. An effective abstract helps readers achieve these two purposes. In particular, because it is typically read before the total paper, the abstract should present what the readers are primarily interested in; that is, what they want to know very first of all and most of all.

    Typically, readers are primarily interested in the information introduced in a paper’s Introduction and Conclusion sections. Primarily, they want to know the motivation for the work introduced and the outcome of this work. Then (and only then) the most specialized among them might want to know the details of the work. Thus, an effective abstract concentrates on motivation and outcome; in doing so, it parallels the paper’s Introduction and Conclusion .

    Accordingly, you can think of an abstract as having two distinct parts — motivation and outcome — even if it is typeset as a single paragraph. For the very first part, go after the same structure as the Introduction section of the paper: State the context, the need, the task, and the object of the document. For the 2nd part, mention your findings (the what ) and, especially, your conclusion (the so what — that is, the interpretation of your findings); if adequate, end with perspectives, as in the Conclusion section of your paper.

    Albeit the structure of the abstract parallels the Introduction and Conclusion sections, it differs from these sections in the audience it addresses. The abstract is read by many different readers, from the most specialized to the least specialized among the target audience. In a sense, it should be the least specialized part of the paper. Any scientist reading it should be able to understand why the work was carried out and why it is significant (context and need), what the authors did (task) and what the paper reports about this work (object of the document), what the authors found (findings), what these findings mean (the conclusion), and possibly what the next steps are (perspectives). In contrast, the total paper is typically read by specialists only; its Introduction and Conclusion are more detailed (that is, longer and more specialized) than the abstract.

    An effective abstract stands on its own — it can be understood fully even when made available without the utter paper. To this end, avoid referring to figures or the bibliography in the abstract. Also, introduce any acronyms the very first time you use them in the abstract (if needed), and do so again in the total paper (see Mechanics: Using abbreviations ).

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