The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) publishes a series of guides that are free for its members and can be purchased by non-members on topics related to copy-editing and proofreading. In 2021, I took a big leap out of my comfort zone and wrote a CIEP guide on Editing Scientific and Medical Research Articles.
Overcoming imposter syndrome
I had been aware for a while that, of the many top-quality guides on editing and proofreading offered by the CIEP, none tackled the specific field of scientific and medical editing. I also knew that this was a gap I could fill, but felt pretty nervous about submitting a proposal to the Information Team because of imposter syndrome. Once I became an Advanced Professional Member of the CIEP at the end of 2020, I was fully eligible to write a guide and had no more excuses. I bit the bullet, submitted my proposal, and was both delighted and terrified when the CIEP Information Team accepted it and sent me a contract to write the guide.
Working with the CIEP
The CIEP’s Information Team were a joy to work with. They were professional and encouraging through the whole process, pointing out what needed to be improved while applauding everything I was doing right. The result was that I learnt a lot and gained much-needed self confidence. The guide went through several rounds of editing and peer review, so I was confident that the end product was sound and fit for purpose.
What to include?
CIEP guides should offer a basic introduction to the knowledge and skills needed in a particular field. My intended audience were copy-editors who work or want to work on scientific research articles, and I knew that these people would already have a scientific style guide on their bookshelf. So what else could I offer? I decided to share my experience as both a former academic who published her own research and as an experienced scientific copy-editor who helps scientists get their papers ready for peer review. For example, I gave tips on dealing with academic clients, explaining that most scientists do not know the differences between copy-editing and proofreading and that we need to use our expertise to make sure our client gets the help they really need. I also talked about how a research paper should be structured and what typically goes wrong based on the papers I have edited over the years.
The end result of one year of writing and editing was more than 50 pages explaining how to help scientists overcome common problems with writing (such as using tenses correctly, dealing with common confusables, and avoiding plagiarism) and navigate the publication process (including tips on writing pre-submission enquiries, cover letters, and rebuttal letters). The guide also includes chapters on how to edit research articles (with a detailed workflow for the beginner) and how to ensure that a research paper has a logical and coherent structure (with templates for the different sections of a research paper). Many editing colleagues have been kind enough to get in touch and tell me how helpful they found the guide.
Writing a guide for the CIEP was a very rewarding process. If you are an Advanced Professional Member of the CIEP and have an interesting idea for a guide, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with the CIEP’s information director at email@example.com.
Blog post by: Claire Bacon