Mentoring in practice

So you think you can edit? - Test yourself  

We all know that editing is more than the checking of grammar and spelling. But what, exactly, does it entail? What distinguishes the professional editor from the amateur? What principles motivate the changes that professional editors make? 

Test your editing knowledge by taking the quick Elements of Editing Self-Test. Developed for beginning editors from all fields, this self-test may also give experienced editors pause for reflection: Have I been keeping up? Should I perhaps be doing some things differently? 

You will be asked to jot down your reactions to just 10 items. We will then review the items to determine if you have successfully identified the core problems and related principles or not. We will briefly consider additional items to make sure that things are clear. And then you, yourself, will decide if you qualify as an amateur or professional editor. 

Drawing on the work of Yagoda (How to Not Write Bad, 2013) and my own work (The Elements of English Editing, 2013), the self-test was developed to stimulate reflection, discussion, and professional development. The 10 items highlight just how many of the corrections and comments made on the writing of native but also non-native speakers of English today (or much of what editors revise for a living) concern a very small number of core writing problems. Awareness of these problems and the best ways to avoid them are part of the professional editor’s job, and raising awareness of the relevant principles is the aim of today’s presentation. 

About the facilitator

Lee Ann Weeks is a bilingual American, a long-standing member of SENSE, a former member of the SENSE Executive Committee, and an active contributor to the field of language professionals in the Netherlands. She recently co-authored The Elements of English Editing: A Guideline to Clear Writing – a handy reference book packed with practical information for the editor, translator, and writer. Drawing on her background in psychology and psycholinguistics, she edits, translates, and presents workshops on editing and clear writing. She also teaches and lectures on scientific writing using the Hourglass Template, the topic of her next book. 



Mentoring in practice

The work of many SENSE members is, by its nature, solitary: one person working with words. We may interact with clients before and after the bulk of job is done, but the work itself occurs in our own heads. What happens when we have to share our work in order to pass on skills and knowledge to a new generation of editors?

       For the past two years we have been working together in a Mentor/Mentee capacity to ensure that the quality of editorial work in the Genetics Department of University Medical Center Groningen remains consistently high as one of us looks toward retirement and the other moves into fuller employment. This mentoring covers not only harmonization of editorial style but also sharing information about working conditions, departmental expectations, yearly cycles of work, expected future changes in the skills required to do the job, and editorial resources. In our shared talk we will demonstrate how we work together successfully as well as discussing how to improve the process.

       While our positions as substantive scientific editors at the UMCG are unique, many of our experiences would be useful and applicable to all SENSE members. The jubilee conference is the perfect forum for this presentation because, after 25 years, some members may now be looking to retire or reduce their working hours. Those with freelance businesses may not have considered passing their work on to a new generation, but doing so can provide continuity to long-term clients as well as fostering a new generation of SENSE members. The future of SENSE will be ensured by the mentoring of this new generation.

About the facilitators

Jackie Senior works as an editor and webmaster for an ambitious research department (Dept of Genetics, University of Groningen/UMCG, the Netherlands). Nowadays she works mostly on biomedical texts but she started as a geologist (in the oil and gas boom), worked in investment banking (during the internet bubble), and moved to the genetics group in the 1990s (human genome era). She has been editing and translating for more than 40 years but, with the Dutch retirement age becoming a moveable feast, is exploring options for later. She was a founder member of SENSE and served twice on its executive committee.

Kate Mc Intyre works as the assistant editor for the Department of Genetics at the University of Groningen/UMCG. Kate has a BA from Columbia University and a PhD in Earth Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz. After spending five years working as a postdoctoral researcher, she came to the Netherlands with her partner. Like many editors, Kate first started editing and translating informally at the request of friends, then went on to start a freelance business. She is also the author of one children's book, De knikkelares.