Why did you become an independent editor?
The most gratifying aspect during my research administration tenure was editing science manuscripts in all areas of science – biotechnology, neuroscience, chemistry, medicine, etc. As a former journal editor, I saw how scientists wanted to improve but didn’t have the tools. I didn’t like seeing critical scientific findings neglected. Based on my experiences, I could help amazing scientists develop a crucial skill that they knew they needed but didn’t know how to obtain. As an independent editor, I can learn all areas of science and have a job that travels with me wherever my adventures take me. The best part is interacting with scientists around the world. The fun answer – editing is like arranging a musical composition and composing the motif for each manuscript. The long answer –I want to help scientists improve their science and communicate their ideas to other scientists and the public.
What do you like most about editing a paper?
I enjoy the challenge to create a clear structure. I think that is a key feature to make your manuscript memorable. I enjoy seeing how experiments support one another and where missing pieces may be. I still remember this theorem: To prove a line has two points, you need to create three lines. It took some time to realize that!
What do you like least?
I miss the social interaction of editing. I am happiest after a Skype conversation to discuss edits and teach writing strategies. What can I say – I’m an extrovert! I enjoy scientists who want to learn. I also enjoy tasks that create time for scientists to pursue critical endeavors. That is why I enjoy editing grant applications and award applications for all lab members. I may not enjoy copy-editing as much as other editing tasks. However, if I can create free time for my client to assist colleagues and write grants, I will form a partnership to help teach and train other lab members to be independent researchers. Yes, even if that means copy-editing an award.
What is your top tip for writing the best paper?
The most memorable manuscripts have a consistent advantage – they have a narrative structure. This is the advice I have repeatedly received from scientists as a journal editor and independent editor. Tell the story revealed by the experiments, not the temporal order in which you conducted the experiments. The final experiment may not be a supplemental figure but may really be the essential element to strengthen your conclusions.
What is the most common mistake people make when writing their paper?
Many people misunderstand the purpose of the discussion. Yes, you can give the reader a higher-order summary of a few key results that the reader needs to understand your discussion. But, this uses a few sentences, not pages. I find people forget that the discussion is where you explain the conceptual advance your results add to the field and how your results resolve debates or reinterpret previous studies. In this section, you bring the reader into the world after your results reveal insights, and bring fresh interpretations of the literature.
When Brandi isn’t editing, she enjoys wine tasting and cooking. She’s an Italianophile at heart.