Why did you become an independent editor?
The main reason was a practical one – for personal reasons I wasn’t able to stay in London or to move to any other city with journal editorial offices. But I also very much liked the idea of using my experience to help authors maximise the visibility of their work – there are a lot of talented scientists who struggle to convey their work simply and clearly, meaning that great science can get ‘lost’ in the sea of publications. I love the fact that my work at LSE gives me the opportunity not only to improve manuscripts and grant applications, but also to make scientific research and findings more accessible to a wider audience, for example, by writing content for institute websites.
What do you like most about editing a paper?
I like the ‘aha’ moments of understanding when reading about interesting new findings, and I like figuring out ways to make those ‘aha’ moments come more easily to the next reader.
What do you like least?
I always find it tough when a paper is much too long for the content that is being presented – it can then feel like a bit of a battle just to get to the end. But it’s a satisfying feeling when you have finally boiled the paper down to the important points and can suggest how to present it more concisely.
What is your top tip for writing the best paper?
Make sure that it’s always clear why you did what you did. All too often, the rationale for carrying out a particular experiment, or even the whole study, is missing. Readers will quickly lose interest if they don’t understand the motivation behind the experiments, so keep them engaged by stating mini-objectives throughout the manuscript, in addition to the overall objective at the beginning.
What is the most common mistake people make when writing their paper?
Assuming the reader will make logical connections that seem obvious to a specialist. Remember, not everyone reading your paper (including the journal editor!) will be familiar enough with the field to understand what led you to a particular interpretation, or what led from one experiment to the next – so spell it out for them!