Scientific editing and translation

Rick's Blog

2019 ELSS Substantive Editing Challenge

ELSS, Inc. substantively edits research manuscripts to the highest practical standard for our clients, who are primarily Japanese researchers. We are seeking skillful freelance editors with expertise in geoscience (particularly geophysics, geochemistry and ecology) and plant science. 
Can you meet our exacting standards?
Preserve the authors’ intended meaning
Fix or at least point out essentially all ambiguities and problems in grammar, spelling, clarity, concision, consistency, structure, coherence, flow, logic, and cogency
Comment about the science
Ease the reader’s path through dense, technical prose
Impose journal format and style as explained in the Instructions to Authors
Skillful substantive editors are conscientious, reliable, highly intelligent, and attentive to detail. Although no writing or editing is perfect, our roster editors are proficient writers who read between the lines and strive for perfection. 
Applicants should meet both of the following criteria:
1. Either {a bachelor's degree or higher in a medical, science, or engineering field} or {both 2 years' research or engineering experience and 2 or more authored papers in peer-reviewed publications}
2. At least 1 year of full-time-equivalent experience substantively editing manuscripts written for peer-reviewed research journals, excluding manuscripts on which the applicant is an author.
Other relevant experience and qualifications can be considered in addition to or instead of listed criteria.
Apply for the Challenge by sending to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
1. Your CV as a doc or pdf file (with your name as the start of the filename)  
2. An estimate of your total hours of experience substantively editing primary research manuscripts on which you are not an author. 
Before applying, please see further details from the ELSS Editing Requirements page

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"


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."
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.


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 (; Spanish only). The organization coordinating this project Conabio is publishing the first country-wide ecosystem assessment of any country in the world


Project Tokyo

Of the professional organizations related to translation in Japan, the Japan Association of Translators is my favorite. JAT has regular monthly meetings and less frequent and larger special meetings. Until recently, the special meetings were annual International Japanese English Translation conferences, which last two or three days and are held in Japan in alternate years.


 - ELSS is seeking experienced substantive editors with expertise in chemistry (especially physical chemistry, catalysis, materials science, geochemistry, and biochemistry) and plant science (especially agronomy, crop breeding, and forestry). Click here for details. Further details of the ELSS editorial requirements are here.

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