과학 기술 통신 분야에서 학위를 받고 생물통계학과 역학에서 대학원 수준의 트레이닝을 받은 이 편집인은 복잡하고 어려운 의학 용어와 임상 문서들을 다루는데 탁월합니다. 생명과학지의 공인된 편집인이며 연구 분석자와 명성있는 출판 편집인의 두 역할을 다루는 유능한 인재입니다.
To start with, can you please tell us why you decided to become an editor?
I decided to work as an editor because it is something I'm good at. All of my life, I have enjoyed both reading and writing. It was something that I actually studied in school - I have a degree in technical and scientific communication - and I enjoy it immensely.
What are the differences between an editor and a writer?
The processes themselves are quite different. While writing, I concentrate on just the content. With editing, I have to focus on not only the content, but also the mechanics, the grammar, the punctuation, etc. So, a slightly different skill set is involved; but being an editor and understanding the mechanics of language also helps me as a writer. On the other hand, being a writer and understanding how to structure a paper and the principles of flow help me while editing.
Do you end up editing your own writing at times?
I think everyone needs the help of an editor. As for me, I do edit my own writing when the need arises. But, I would always prefer if someone else went through my writing. I just think it's very difficult to edit your own writing, because once you spend hours working on a piece, you are too attached to it to be able to catch the errors.
You mentioned that you have done your Bachelor's in scientific and technical communication. What kind of knowledge does that give? What kind of teaching does such a course provide?
Well, there were lots of writing classes. I learned how to write technical manuals, such as for a VCR and for software. I took classes in medical writing, medical terminology, technical editing, and proposal writing. I also took a class on writing for the web - it is very different from writing for a book, with a different audience and a different style. I took several intensive composition and rhetoric classes as well as linguistics, which helped me learn the general mechanics of language.
Your primary areas of graduate training are in public health and health policy. How do you manage editing documents that are not from these areas?
Well, my understanding of medicine and healthcare comes from over 10 years of work experience in the field. I've worked in large hospitals, managed care organizations, a healthcare management consulting firm, and a clinical research organization. In these positions, I have been exposed to nearly every medical specialty in one form or another. I usually don't have to do much by way of research while editing medical documents, because I am mostly familiar with the terminology. While editing documents from other subject areas, I pay more attention to the content because it's important for me to get everything right. If it's a term I am not familiar with, I will obviously look it up. I have access to numerous reference resources and medical encyclopedias. And of course, there is always the internet for retrieving electronic journal articles.
Can you briefly describe the procedure you follow while editing a document?
Sure. The first thing I do when I receive a manuscript is to look at the instructions for authors for the target journal, after which I format the paper according to the instructions, before looking at anything else. Then, I do a second pass for editing. I tend to edit line-by-line and then paragraph-by-paragraph. I'll usually go back again and make sure that I haven't missed anything and that the paper reads well and has a good flow. Thus, I do three passes with each document.
How has your experience been with manuscripts written by non-native English speakers?
Well, I think that it must be very difficult to write in one's second or third language, and I have a lot of respect for people who can do it because I know that I couldn't do it myself. Many common errors arise due to the differences between Japanese or "research" English. For example, the system of English articles (a, an, the) does not have a counterpart in Japanese, making it a very difficult part of English to learn, and it seems to be an area where a lot of errors occur. My advice is to always use an editor, more so because it is very difficult to edit your own work. Another piece of advice is to read your work out aloud. This is to help identify errors that you cannot normally detect unless you are reading. I would suggest keeping a gap of a few hours between editing an article and then re-reading it with fresh eyes.
Do you often proofread on paper while editing, or do you do it directly on screen?
I almost always edit on screen. I'm used to it by now. I think that it really depends on the editor. Some people are more comfortable with editing on paper and they can't get used to editing on screen. But I find it much more efficient to edit on screen with the aid of Microsoft Word's Track Changes function. Also, if I were to make changes on paper and then go back to enter those changes on screen, it would consume more time. So, if it's a really complex assignment, I do most of the editing on screen and then print out a copy with the changes accepted and review it on paper. It is funny that there are always errors that you can catch on paper even after having done two passes on screen. A point one has to remember as an editor is that there can never be a "perfect" edit.
What are you most careful about while editing a manuscript?
I think that the most important thing I'm careful about is clarity, or ease of understanding. It's important that the material is presented in such a way that it is easy for the reader to gather what is being said. It's best to always have the reader in mind while editing.
I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. Many times you'll see a list of clinical measurements such as blood pressure, oxygen in blood, etc. being measured followed by a list of values of the respective parameters. It is difficult for the reader to correlate these two quantities because they then have to go back to the beginning of the sentence to know what the numbers are referring to.
So in that situation, I move the numbers closer to their respective parameters.
How would you define substantive editing, and differentiate it from copyediting?
Copyediting is concerned more with the mechanics of language than with clarity in the flow and the syntax. Generally, with copyediting you wouldn't necessarily change a word or rephrase a sentence. A copyeditor would just put in the correct punctuation and check article usage (a, an, the).
On the other hand, substantive editing is also concerned with accomplishing good flow by rearranging paragraphs or sentences. Sometimes authors repeat information in the text that is already mentioned in the tables. So a substantive editor would pay attention to that and reword sections that are redundant or irrelevant.
Do you think it is always necessary to re-arrange sentences or paragraphs in substantive editing?
No, it's not always necessary. While working on a substantive edit, you have to be alert for opportunities to improve the clarity of writing, which can sometimes be done by reordering information. Perhaps one out of every four papers requires that level of substantive editing, while the other three would only need cleaning up of punctuation, etc.
What measures do you take to deliver consistent quality?
Well, I always try to research a new piece. I do not edit when I'm tired, such as at the end of a long day when I've done a million other things. I always work in a quiet environment where I can't be distracted and where I can work for an hour and a half, uninterrupted, because I find that it takes about an hour and a half for me to be able to get into the writing and into the piece sufficiently. So I avoid situations in which I might be interrupted after 10 minutes and will have to go do something else and return to the edit after an interval.
I'm always looking for ways to improve my quality and learn new things. If the document is from a subject area I'm not familiar with, I will often read another paper in the field and get to know the terminology to make sure that I do as good a job as possible.
According to you, how important is it for an editor to have a personal interest in the subject that he or she is editing?
I think it is important, because it helps an editor be involved in greater detail when he is interested in the subject. So, if I were editing a banking-related document, I might not be able to read in depth because it's not a subject that really interests me. But just about any science manuscript would have me hooked - even topics such as oceanography and physics. So it's important to have a passion for editing, because what we are doing has great importance - the manuscripts are the ultimate result of hundreds of years of human endeavor.
Like you said, you would be interested in any science document. Have you edited documents from subject areas other than medicine?
Well, I have read quite a bit in other fields of science. I actually spent last summer working on an oceanographic research vessel. So I have some familiarity with that field, which in itself covers areas like physics, biology, and chemistry. I have also taken a number of undergraduate-level classes in the hard sciences. Even so, I would obviously need to gain some background knowledge of a new field if I were to edit documents from it. Every assignment has the same requirements in the sense that the goals of an editor are the same.
You've been affiliated with quite a few associations such as the Editorial Freelancers Association and the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences. How does that benefit you as an editor?
Well, the Editorial Freelancers Association has helped me get a lot of freelance work. Their online directory helps authors get in touch with good editors, particularly because there aren't many editors specializing in medical documents. The Board of Editors in the Life Sciences has awarded me a special certification in editing. They have very strict requirements for certifying medical editors, which benefits clients because they are assured of the ability and credentials of the editor. In addition, I belong to the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). Its annual conference has workshops where I can polish my writing and editing skills. AMWA also has a monthly journal that covers medical writing and offers very insightful articles.
You mentioned that most of these associations conduct workshops. What kind of training do they provide at such workshops?
Well, there are several types of workshops. I've attended one on punctuation and clarity. I have also attended one on researching medical literature and one on writing in health and fitness publications. Also, there are workshops on some science topics (like microbiology) for people who don't have a good background in those areas.
Then, there is a two-part CD-ROM-based workshop on grammar, which I really recommend. It can also be accessed through the AMWA website. It's called Basic Grammar I and II and includes quizzes and a final exam that is to be answered on paper and mailed to AMWA.
I have also taken workshops on tables and graphs, creating posters, and on proper paragraphing.
At times, you may have received assignments with very close deadlines. What is your view on such assignments? And how did they affect your quality?
Well, I generally have plenty of time, even if the assignment is due the next day. The crucial point when you are on a really short deadline is to get the most important things right. So, I concentrate on spellings and typing/mechanical errors (e.g., "two" or "to" instead of "too"). Technical Editing: The Practical Guide for Editors and Writers by Judith Tarutz provides good guidelines for working with tight deadlines, which I normally follow.
But with such short deadlines, do you think the quality of the edit would be as good as that of a normal assignment?
Well, it depends on the document. If it doesn't require too much editing, than having a short deadline is probably fine. If it really requires substantive editing, I might put everything else on hold in order to complete the assignment on time.
While editing, do you use any special tools or macros in Microsoft Word?
No, but if I'm doing something over and over again, I will write my own macros to lessen the amount of time required. I do know that many editors use shortcuts, and I'm quite familiar with keyboard shortcuts, which can be assigned as and when required. For example, if I'm formatting a document, I'll set up three levels of headings with keyboard shortcuts. And then as I'm going through the document, I can apply the styles at the press of a button.
You had mentioned that you also do web editing. How does that differ from copyediting?
Well, it's mainly due to how people read on the internet. On the internet, people don't read blocks of text very well. They begin, they scan, but they don't tend to go deep into the text. So, while writing for the internet, it's important to make things shorter and use boldface and other formatting appropriately.
When you are not editing, how do you spend your time?
I really like to hike in the mountains and in the woods. I'm a good gardener and like growing both vegetables and flowers. I also love traveling. So whenever I can, I like to go traveling, even if it's just a short trip. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of free time right now, because I work full time, freelance, and attend school part time! I'm also on the board of directors of a music company and am active in my garden club.
On your resume you've mentioned that you have been a grant writer and a publicist. Can you tell us about that experience?
That was part of my volunteer work for a non-profit organization, which involved writing grant applications to get funding from the government or other non-profit organizations. The principles of grant writing are similar to any other kind of writing - you should be aware of your audience and be clear and precise. It's obviously not as technical as a medical manuscript.
I have also done some volunteer work as a publicist, which involved writing press releases and other communications for the media and getting them to write articles on the work of the organization. This was very different from medical writing, which is much more objective and which obviously cannot be biased. With publicity, one needs to be rather persuasive.