Rick's Blog

2016 Earth Science Substantive Editing Challenge

For a chance to earn cash bonuses, apply  before 30 June 2016 to become an ELSS freelance editor!
If a scientific paper is worth editing, then it is worth editing substantively, thoroughly and well. Can you edit at the highest level? 
Founded in 1995, ELSS is an editing and translation agency providing service mainly in the natural and applied sciences. With a geographically dispersed roster of highly-skilled freelance editors, ELSS strives to provide the highest practical standard of substantive editing to our scientist clients, who are primarily Japanese. As we grow, we need to add editors to our roster. Most editors who try out with us cannot meet our exacting standards. Can you?

Skillful substantive editors are conscientious, thorough, reliable, highly intelligent, and attentive to detail. Our roster editors are effective writers who read between the lines; they are perfectionist to some extent (though no writing or editing is perfect).
ELSS roster editors: 
  • Preserve the authors' intended meaning
  • Fix or at least point out all ambiguities; inconsistencies, and problems in clarity, coherence, readability, logic, flow, concision, and cogency
  • Fix essentially all errors in grammar and spelling
  • Impose journal format and style as explained in Instructions to Authors
Further details of ELSS editing requirements are available here: http://www.elss.co.jp/en/faq/editorinstructions.html
The ELSS Earth Science Substantive Editing Challenge is a limited offer of 100,000 Japanese yen in bonuses to each of the best qualified earth science editors who apply before 30 June 2016. ELSS will pay a 50,000 Japanese yen bonus to each of those candidates who earn promotion to our freelance roster by demonstrating substantive editing proficiency to our satisfaction, and a second 50,000 Japanese yen bonus upon completion of 10 editing assignments within the subsequent year. Candidates are required to sign our non-disclosure agreement before receiving ELSS manuscripts. 
Promotion to our roster requires demonstration of consistent editing proficiency on at least 3 to 4 manuscripts (typically 5 to 8 manuscripts) including at least one rather difficult manuscript (poor writing). During this vetting process, which usually takes several months and can take more than a year, candidates are paid for editing of manuscripts at rates that start at 858 to 936 yen per 200-word page; with progress, the pay rate can be gradually increased toward the roster rate of 1105 yen/page for regular service (18-business day turnaround, including time for a second editor to carefully review the edit). Rates for faster service are 23% to 112% higher depending on turnaround time (6-, 3-, or 1-business days), but such short-turnaround work is usually not offered to candidate editors until they qualify for the roster. 
Payments can be in Japanese yen via Japanese domestic bank transfer (yen only), Australian dollar direct deposit (to a bank account in Australia), or US dollar direct deposit (to a US account), US dollar personal check (drawn on a US bank), direct wire (after deduction of the fees), or PayPal funded by a Japanese yen credit card. For US$ and Australian dollar payments, yen are converted on the monthly payment day at the rates at the Shinsei Bank remittance service.
Applicants should meet both of the following criteria:
1.    Either a bachelor's degree or higher in an earth science or engineering field,
or both 2 years' scientific research experience and 2 or more authored papers in peer-reviewed earth science research publications.
2.    At least 2 years of experience substantively editing manuscripts written for submission to peer-reviewed research or engineering journals. 
Other relevant experience and qualifications can be considered.
Earth science specialties of particular interest:
Geophysics, geology (seismology, tectonics, stratigraphy, hydrology, etc.), oceanography (biological, chemical, geological, or physical), climatology, meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, environmental chemistry, geochemistry, global cycles, global change science, remote sensing, land cover change, environmental policy, and ecology
To apply for the challenge, send your CV as an rtf, doc, docx, or pdf file with your family name as the start of the filename to rick [at mark] elss.co.jp. Please include with your email an estimate of how many hours over the course of your career you have  substantively edited manuscripts headed for peer-reviewed journals, excluding manuscripts for which you are an author. An edited sample manuscript and opportunities to communicate with some of our roster editors are available to qualified candidates upon request. 
Note that although applications from skillful, qualified, and experienced freelance scientific editors are always welcome, the cash bonuses from the ELSS Earth Science Substantive Editing Challenge are available only to earth science and engineering editors who apply before 30 June 2016. 

The ELSS Substantive Editing Challenge

For a chance to earn cash bonuses, apply  before 15 November 2010 to become an ELSS freelance editor!

If a scientific paper is worth substantively editing, then it is worth editing thoroughly and well. Can you edit at the highest level?


World's first country-wide biodiversity survey

Tuesday 19 May I enjoyed attending the Chiba University Science Lectureship Award lecture and award ceremony for Professor Jose Sarukhán (Instituto de Ecologa-UNAM, Mexico). Prof. Sarukhán has been leading a remarkable project to investigate the biodiversity of megadiverse Mexico (www.conabio.gob.mx; Spanish only). The organization coordinating this project Conabio is publishing the first country-wide ecosystem of any country in the world


Ghostwritten scientific literature

The New York Times reported on 4 August that "… ghostwriters paid by a pharmaceutical company played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women." These article played up the benefits of the client company's (Wyeth) drugs, while downplaying alternative therapies and drugs from competitors. The documents that served as the basis for this newspaper story were uncovered by lawyers suing Wyeth on behalf of clients who claim harm from hormone replacement therapy; the documents were made public upon request by PLOS Medicine and the New York Times. Some further details are available in the New York Times story by Natasha Singer "Medical Papers by Ghostwriters Pushed Therapy" http://www.nytimes.com/


Dennis L. Meadows at the Japan Prize 2009 News Conference

Every year for the past 25, the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan has awarded the Japan Prize "to people from all parts of the world whose original and outstanding achievements in science and technology are recognized as having advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for mankind." http://www.japanprize.jp/en/prize.html
This week, the prize has been awarded to two Americans, Drs. David E. Kuhl and Dennis L. Meadows. On 22 April I was priveldged to attend a news conference by these two eminent scholars at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

Dr. Kuhl has been one of the inventors and improvers of tomographic imaging, which has greatly accelerated progress in research and medicine. Dr. Meadows lead the research project that published "The Limits to Growth" (Club of Rome, 1972). This book presented the results of modeling simulations that demonstrated that continued growth of human populations and resource consumption would hit physical limits of our very finite planet sometime in the coming decades. The book generated tremendous controversy; much of modern economics is based on the premise that growth is necessary for well being of countries. Though Dr. Kuhl's work is tremendously important in research and medicine, Dr. Meadows' work resonates with two critical issues facing the world today, the global recession and environmental degradation, most notably on the political horizon: climate change; consequently, all of the press conference questions went to Dr. Meadows, and it is his remarks that I write here.



  1. Project Tokyo