Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Free Writing in the Sciences MOOC

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!

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Reading cutting-edge papers is so fun!

Getting the chance to read cutting-edge research before even peer reviewers do is such a treat. Of course I would never breach confidentiality (see my standard terms), but sometimes I really want to tell the world about an exciting paper I’m reading. Today is one such day. I guess you’ll just have to wait until it’s published! ūüôā

Why I <3 repeat customers

I love working with repeat customers. It’s so gratifying to know that my work was valuable¬†enough to someone that they want to work with me again! It’s a great confidence booster that I really am doing a good job and serving my clients well.

I also relish the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with my clients over time. Today someone I’ve worked with multiple times (I won’t say who, but you can find him somewhere on the testimonials page!) called to get an estimate request on¬†another project. I’d previously done basic editing of one of his journal manuscripts and substantive editing of his CV, and now I’ll be helping with developmental editing of a few job application cover letters.¬†Because we were already familiar with each other’s writing and editing styles, I could confidently quote him an appropriate fee and he could confidently assess that it was a fair value for the help he’d receive.

As I outline on the “Why Choose Science Refinery?” page,¬†I go¬†beyond traditional copyediting of journal articles, so this type of ongoing client relationship is common for me. As another¬†example, I could help you craft an abstract to submit to a conference, design the poster once you‚Äôre accepted, write¬†the journal article after you get great feedback on your poster, and put related work together in your dissertation.

If you haven’t yet hired Science Refinery for any editing projects, never fear! As much as I love my repeat customers, I still have plenty of time and attention¬†that I can devote to new clients, too. So contact me today and let’s get started. I know you’ll love working with Science Refinery so much that you’ll become a repeat customer soon too.

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!