Category Archives: Blog

It’s the anniversary of my full-time copyeditor status!

One year ago today, I declared that I was officially done with my graduate school responsibilities and was a full-time copyeditor with Science Refinery. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long already! It’s been a challenging but rewarding experience. Thank you to all of my clients for making Science Refinery a success and to my family and friends for your support. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

Website updates and listification

As promised last week, I updated* the Science Refinery website yesterday. You may notice minor changes in wording and formatting throughout, but the important stuff is listed below.

The countries of origin and first languages of the authors I’ve edited for so far are now all listed on the Why Choose Science Refinery page. They range from Belgium to Taiwan and Catalan to Swedish.

The project types and subject areas of the pieces I’ve edited so far are now all listed on the Range of Projects I Work On page. They range from academic journal articles to website copy and biology to statistics.

Finally, I put a new picture of me working at my standing desk (I’ll post about that soon!) on the home page. In it you can see this poster from The Oatmeal about “Why working from home is both awesome and horrible,” my shelf of various diplomas and awards, and the beautiful spring day out my open window.

Lauren at standing desk

By the way, don’t forget that any projects for IMFAR booked now through 5/12 will receive a 20% discount!

*Case in point about why even I need an editor sometimes: I originally wrote “made some updates to” instead of the simpler, more powerful “updated.” Blech.

20% discount on IMFAR poster editing and talk consultations!

IMFAR, the International Meeting for Autism Research, is starting in just two weeks! If you are like most scientists, you probably haven’t printed off your poster or created your talk yet. In fact, I hear tell that some people (I’m sure not you!) don’t even start making them until the day before they leave for a conference. Well, fear not. There is still plenty of time for Science Refinery to help AND I’m offering a 20% discount on all IMFAR projects booked now through Monday, 5/12.

As described on the types of editing page, if you choose developmental editing, I can help you right from the beginning of the process by designing the whole poster for you. Other options include substantive editing (where I work on your draft to make each sentence as effective as possible and improve word choice) and basic editing (where I work on your almost-final draft to do a spot check and make sure there are no errors). If you’re giving a talk instead of or in addition to participating in a poster session, I can also help you improve your presentation (as noted on the range of projects I work on page). So contact me today to see how we could best work together and get you that 20% discount!

This year’s IMFAR is in Atlanta, GA. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been two years since I attended the 2012 IMFAR in Toronto! I presented two posters. You can see them below and read the accompanying handouts here: #1, #2. I also wrote my first blog post ever about the experience. Crazy. If you are going to IMFAR this year, I’d love to hear about it!

Prenatal influences on Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative evidence from a twin study

Prenatal influences on Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative evidence from a twin study

Short Sensory Profile (SSP) in families with at least one autistic twin

Short Sensory Profile (SSP) in families with at least one autistic twin

Thoughts on the complementary values of paper and e-books

Digital readers, rejoice! To Kill a Mockingbird will newly be available in e-book format on author Harper Lee’s 88th birthday this July. I learned of the news from a post by my friend Ashley, a teacher at LePort Schools, this morning. In her post, Ashley beautifully described the distinct, complementary values of both paper and e-books:

These days, I almost exclusively read content digitally, whether through e-books, online subscriptions, or blog posts. Besides one magazine I receive in hard copy, it’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a physical book or newspaper. I find digital content so much more convenient and I’m much more likely to actually read it. When two of my friends wanted me to read Love in the Time of Cholera so we could all discuss it together, I was disappointed that I couldn’t find an e-book copy of it.

But when one of those friends lent me her well-loved paperback, I was thrilled. I was surprised at how much joy it brought me to hold a book in my hands and I’m so excited to read it.

So I absolutely agree with Ashley’s post: both paper and e-book formats are valuable in distinct, complementary, beautiful ways.

Do you prefer one or the other consistently? Or maybe you like reading non-fiction on a device and fiction in a physical book (or some other combination)? Have we missed out on any key values you enjoy about your favorite format?

My Sudden Clarity Clarence moment about PowerPoint

Today I had a Sudden Clarity Clarence moment:

Yeah, this has been noted by others before, and I’ve had the general sense for a while now, but it only crystallized into a conscious thought for me today. Here’s how.

It seems like lately I’ve been getting a lot of jobs that involve more than just my typical copyediting of scientific journal articles (like helping a student prepare for a Rhodes Scholar interview and working with political candidates to improve their brochures). If I keep making blog posts reminding people that the range of projects I work on is vast, perhaps I need to update how I pitch myself throughout the site in the first place… (Yes, this and a few other site updates are already on my to do list–stay tuned!)

Today I had the opportunity to work on another such “unconventional” project with Dr. Nestor Matthews. Last summer I analyzed and reviewed his recorded flipped classroom lectures and I’m always grateful to earn repeat business from satisfied customers. This time he wanted me to talk with students in his Psych 100 class during one of their writing workshops about what it’s like to be a professional editor and writer. Through the magic of Skype, I was able to be right there with them. I had a great time sharing my perspectives about science writing, majoring in psychology, and more with the students.

We both agreed from the start that we wanted more of an informal discussion than a formal lecture, so making a PowerPoint presentation was out of the question. I still needed a way to organize my thoughts and generally prepare what I was going to say, though, so I made a simple outline in Word. That’s when the realization struck: most academics (my previous self definitely included) use PowerPoint for their talks as an alternative to writing a simple outline!

The entry on creating outlines from the University of Richmond Writing Center does a great job of detailing the hows and whys of outlining and I’m sure most of you smarties already have a firm grasp on that, so I won’t bother recreating the wheel here. And if you need convincing that talks should be accompanied by slides that are mostly visual (e.g., pictures, graphs) rather than word-based, let me know and I will point you to any of the innumerable sources out there about how most people seriously abuse PowerPoint. One of my favorites from my professional development course on scholarly communication is a presentation on SlideShare called “Death by PowerPoint.”

Now I’m not at all saying that PowerPoint is useless or bad. I’ve reviewed some alternative presentation programs (Bunkr and Presenter, which I just learned has been rebranded as visme), but it is definitely possible to make a beautiful, useful PowerPoint presentation.

My bottom line here is that if you’re giving a talk (teaching a lecture, demonstrating a product, whatever!) that does call for some kind of visual aids, under no circumstances should you subject the audience to a presentation that is basically your own outline on some slides! Outlining should be a private first step, not the public final product.

The 5 Phases of the Writing Process

My friend Alex Epstein is in the process of writing a book. Many of his fans are eagerly awaiting its November release, so he often treats us to tidbits about the writing process. One of his latest was the following:

Does your writing process contain these same steps and do they carry the same emotions for you? If not, what do you do differently? Share your thoughts in the comments below!