Tell us a bit about yourself
I have a PhD in genetic epidemiology and have worked in cancer research for almost twenty years. I began freelance editing (http://www.gilliandite.com.au/) in 2013 and I love the flexibility and variety of the work.
With a background in science and research, what drew you to editing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing for fun as well as writing academic research papers. When I was thinking about a change in direction for my career, I knew that I’ve always enjoyed and excelled at working at a fine level of detail and I realised that I could help people with their writing. I completed a Postgraduate Diploma of Arts (Editing and Communications) at the University of Melbourne and loved it. The qualification gave me the knowledge and confidence that I needed to move into freelance editing.
What type of works do you normally edit?
I love working on anything to do with science. I often help academics with research manuscripts to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication. With the top journals receiving far more submissions than they can publish, manuscripts need to be excellent to be considered for publication. Badly written papers don’t get very far and editing can dramatically increase the chances of being accepted for publication.
I also work a lot with students who are working on a master’s or PhD thesis. I particularly enjoy working with international students. It would be incredibly difficult to come to Australia and study in a foreign language and I have learned a lot from them.
What are the common problems you encounter with the work you edit?
While every job is different with its own quirks, people frequently have trouble with punctuation and I often have to fix problems with tense. An important part of an editor’s job is to ensure consistency throughout the work. This can include spelling, stylistic choices, and the use of statistics and units of measurement.
Any suggestions for people writing their thesis etc?
Students (and academics) should learn how to use EndNote to manage their references. All universities offer short courses on using EndNote and the librarians are always happy to help. I’ve worked on quite a few theses that would fail the examination because they had so many problems with the references. By using EndNote properly, students can avoid the added expense of paying their editor to also check the accuracy and formatting of references and in-text citations.
Any suggestions for people looking to engage an editor?
First, you need to ensure that you are looking for the right service for your manuscript. There’s no point paying for someone to proofread the first draft of a novel; proofreading is the final step in the publication process.
For a first draft, you should be looking for a manuscript assessment or structural editor – someone who can give you input into the big picture by focusing on the logic and flow of your manuscript and suggesting areas for rewriting, reorganisation and removal.
Later, you should be looking for a copy editor who will edit the manuscript line by line to ensure consistency in style and identify and fix errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar.
Lastly, a proofreader should look at the manuscript just before publication to identify and correct any small problems that remain.
Once you know what service you require, the process of finding an editor can be daunting. Don’t make the mistake of just looking for the cheapest quote or using someone who thinks it’s easy because they did well in English at school. Look for someone with experience and qualifications that are relevant to your manuscript. In my area, clients look for an editor with a strong scientific background and my extensive experience with statistical analysis is invaluable in my editing.
Societies such as Editors Victoria have online directories (http://www.editorsvictoria.org/find-an-editor/freelancers) of freelance editors.
Have you edited fiction works and does that interest you?
I’ve had a few people ask me to edit fiction. While I love reading, I know I’m not the best person to work with them and I will help them find a better match.