Meet the Editors – Milka

Why did you become an independent editor?

I have been fascinated by science since I was five years old. I have also been fascinated by words since about nine years old. So, throughout my school and career I gravitated towards opportunities that where I could do both, enjoy great science and write about it. Being an independent editor is an opportunity to broaden my scientific thinking by working with a large community of authors, and help some great new science get published.

What do you like most about editing a paper?

Getting to the bottom of it, getting to that one new insight that really matters and molding the rest of the narrative towards it.

What do you like least?

Although it might sound weird to say this as an editor, but I don’t particularly enjoy changing other people’s words. I do it, because in many cases this has to be done – to improve clarity, to fix grammar issues, to improve the flow of sentences – but I remain conscious of the people who wrote the work and their writing style and preferences. That’s why I always view my edits – that come with a lot of comments as well – as suggestions for people to consider.

What is your top tip for writing the best paper?

Have someone who is not in your field read your draft and comment on it, preferably in person. It can be someone from a neighboring lab, or a class mate, or a collaborator who is not involved in the exact study you wrote about… or a date? One of the best editing sessions I ever had was on a date night with my then boyfriend now husband, where we set down at the kitchen table across from each other and went through a manuscript he was working on, line by line, page by page, figure by figure. The fact that this was happening in person really helped! The paper got published with minor revisions and we stayed together, so not bad, right?

What is the most common mistake people make when writing their paper?

Not being able to decide on that one main, most important idea that a paper is supposed to deliver. This is very hard – you spend few years on a project and perform hundreds of experiments and have numerous conversations with your peers and collaborators. So, when you sit down to write it all up chances are zillions of ideas and thoughts are swarming in your mind, and many of them may seem exciting and worth jotting down. But, you have to be very disciplined and focused, and stick with that one main point! Stuffing a paper with too many things is the worst thing you can do. It will confuse the editor, it will confuse the reviewers, and it will make a paper very hard to publish.