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Roma Ilnyckyj

Editing Science: Mechanics and Beyond

Petri dish

I work for a science communications company called Talk Science to Me. Our goal is to help scientists communicate their research effectively, and we offer writing, editing, design and project management services, among others. As an associate editor, I mostly copy edit and proofread research reports, articles, books and websites.

Petri dishMany of our clients are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government agencies. The majority of what I work on is meant for a general audience, so one important thing I do is make sure that the language is appropriate for the context. It’s my goal to incorporate as many plain language elements into my editing as possible. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to reduce passive voice, prevent overuse of acronyms and define technical terms. Numbers, units of measure, graphs and tables tend to show up frequently in science-based material, so they require a lot of attention to ensure accuracy and consistency.

As an editor, I naturally love working with language and mechanics. But one of the most satisfying things about my job is being part of a large science communications community where there’s a constant discussion about our work. We talk a lot about how we communicate, which includes things like plain language and the role of social media. And then we talk about the big issues that have an impact on our world, like GMOs, climate change and vaccinations. This constant discussion challenges me to always be thinking about how to best do my job, and it also encourages me to stay up to date on science and understand how research and public opinion influence policy. I’m learning more about how non-scientists understand research. Since I help move research from the field to the general public, I see my work as a way of advocating for greater science literacy.

I strongly believe that editors have a responsibility to be advocates, so the fact that I get to work towards that goal every day while also being immersed in my love of language and grammar — well, I can’t ask for much more from a job than that!


Previous post in the «Facets of Editing» series: A Formula for Mathematical Editing

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