Tomorrow is the second anniversary of my full-time copyeditor status! Woo!
Here’s what Brittany Buhalog had to say about her experience working with Science Refinery earlier this year:
“I’m a medical student at the University of Wisconsin, and getting accepted into a dermatology residency program is a very stressful process. I was asked by one of my top programs to send the residency director a PowerPoint slide about myself that would be projected on screen as the physicians were discussing how to ultimately rank me. I knew I needed a professional-looking yet visually striking final product, which is something I certainly could not create by myself! Lauren was able to strike the perfect balance between professionalism and aesthetics, and I was proud to send the final slide to the residency director. I will surely recommend and utilize Lauren’s services in the future.”
I edit for many authors for whom English is not their first language. I’ve been keeping track of their countries of origin and first languages over on the Why Choose Science Refinery? page. Until now, I’ve done lots from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, but today I’m editing my first work from Africa (Angola)! Now I’ve edited something from every populated continent (that is, if you’re one of the people who count the Malay Archipelago as part of Oceania rather than Asia; if you’re not, I’m looking to you, Australia and New Zealand!). Cool.
If you care about academic writing at all, I urge you to read Steven Pinker’s latest article at The Chronicle Review. It’s long, but very worth it. His central question is,
Why should a profession that trades in words and dedicates itself to the transmission of knowledge so often turn out prose that is turgid, soggy, wooden, bloated, clumsy, obscure, unpleasant to read, and impossible to understand?
He goes on to demolish some of the most common explanations for poor academic writing. It’s not just deliberate obscurity, or that it’s unavoidable, or that it’s imposed by journals. It’s about communication style.
Rather than writing in a clear, classical style, most academics blend the practical and self-conscious styles. Why is this so? “The curse of knowledge, in combination with chunking and functional fixity.” You’ll have to read the full article to see what he means by all of that.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. As Pinker put it,
Enough already. Our indifference to how we share the fruits of our intellectual labors is a betrayal of our calling to enhance the spread of knowledge. In writing badly, we are wasting each other’s time, sowing confusion and error, and turning our profession into a laughingstock.
As seen on the recently updated Range of Projects I Work On page, I just edited a patient information sheet for a pain management clinic. I love getting to explore new fields and types of writing! Keep sending me those varied projects 🙂
Edit on 9/6: The Range of Projects I Work On page was just updated again to reflect that I’m now working on a manuscript in another new subject area: educational philosophy and theory. I also have a new country of origin and first language of my authors listed on the Why Choose Science Refinery page: Turkey and Turkish!
A free online course called Writing in the Sciences starts on Tuesday, 9/2. I have no experience with this instructor or MOOCs at Stanford, so I can’t provide a personal recommendation, but it looks like it’d be a great experience. The topics include everything from crafting better sentences and paragraphs to how to do a peer review. If you take the course, please let me know what you think of it!
Thanks to my wonderful hubby, my main computer is finally back up and running after a week of only being able to use some old, slow devices. Now I can get back to working at full speed!