Resources for scientists: manuscript editing services


Image credit: Vmenkov

In today’s “publish-or-perish” environment, scientists are often judged and hiring decisions based primarily on a lengthy publication record in high-quality journals. While there is a growing movement toward alternative metrics (i.e., measures of research impact in the mainstream), the reality is that publication records are still used as a primary indicator of research productivity, especially among hiring committees.

So what do you do if your writing skills are less than stellar or you are a non-native English speaker? One solution is to enlist the services of a manuscript editing company. These companies are experienced with editing scientific manuscripts across multiple disciplines, offer quick turnaround service and employ editors who are technically trained in your field. Services typically range from language editing on up to peer review with specific fee structures based on word count and complexity of the editing service.

While it may be an initial hurdle to pay for such services, in the end it leads to a more polished manuscript and increases the chances of publication because journal reviewers can focus their time on content and not deciphering language. Another great benefit of using these services is that the editors are trained to leave comments about common errors seen in the paper (instead of just making the changes for you), and thus the author can learn how to improve upon their writing skills for the future.

Here are a few manuscript editing companies that have been recommended to me in the past. I don’t endorse any of these companies but encourage you to check out their websites to compare pricing structures, learn more about the editing process and assess their expertise. These companies may also offer free tools (e.g., journal selector) to the public.

If cost is a factor, be sure to check with your PI or department as they may be willing to pay for such services for their students or postdocs. You can also check around your department to see if any colleagues moonlight as an editor or know of any independent editors that they would recommend. Additionally university writing centers may provide assistance with review of manuscripts or offer writing workshops.



New journal issue focuses on scientific citizenship

JMBE_cover_ASMScience_FinalThe American Society for Microbiology’s Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education (JMBE) has released a themed issue on Scientific Citizenship. Guest editors were Jack A. Gilbert of Argonne National Laboratory, Karen K. Klyczek of University of Wisconsin-River Falls and Samantha L. Elliott of St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

The issue highlights ways to engage students and the public in hands-on citizen science projects. Articles include tips for training citizen scientists in data collection and unique ideas for designing research and education projects. Importantly the issue also features articles on how to measure outcomes of citizen-science projects. This issue is a great resource for researchers, educators and citizen-science coordinators who are looking for guidance in creating effective and meaningful research experiences for the public, while generating valuable crowdsourced data.

I am also a proud contributor to the issue with a tips and tools article titled “The Use of Online Citizen-Science Projects to Provide Experiential Learning Opportunities for Nonmajor Science Students“. This article reviews a simple way to integrate citizen science in the classroom by assigning students to participate in and write a report on their experience with an online (aka web-based) citizen-science project.

Read the press release for more details or check out the JMBE Scientific Citizenship issue (Volume 17, Issue 1) online for free.

Which federal government services are affected by the shutdown?

Librarians are definitely a scientist’s best friend! Check out this post from Laura Barnes via her Environmental News Bits blog for a compiled list of online data resources that are affected by the government shutdown and a few tips on how to access some archived materials. Follow or subscribe to her blog to stay up-to-date on environmental news, publications and resources.

Environmental News Bits’s Government Shutdown web site provides summaries of what services are affected by the shutdown and a link to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s government operations status page.

Currently, the U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE’s web sites are available, but with a notice that they will not be updated until government operations resume. The ENERGY STAR web site is still up, but online tools and applications and the ENERGY STAR hotline will be unavailable until the government reopens.

USDA’s web site is currently unavailable, as are those for the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. The last three agencies are all part of the U.S. Department of Interior and their web sites are now redirecting to the main DOI web page, which includes a notice similar to DOE’s regarding the shutdown.

The White House has agency contingency plans

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