Why did you become an independent editor?
I wanted to use my experience as a Scientific Editor to help scientists navigate the publication process, especially students, postdocs and young PIs who may still be learning how the system works. As a Scientific Editor at Cell Press, I worked closely with some authors, and really enjoyed helping them out. I also simply enjoy editing. I’ve done all these things as an Editor at Cell Press, but often there wasn’t enough time to really delve into a paper, and I wanted to be able to do more of that.
What do you like most about editing a paper?
I like approaching each paper as a naïve reader and thinking about what information would be needed, so that someone who is not an expert in the immediate field can fully understand the experiments and why they are important. That is often how I felt when I was reading papers as an editor. I actually like shortening text: I love the challenge of figuring out how to convey an idea more concisely but still clearly – it’s like a word puzzle!
What do you like least?
Reading long detailed review articles – though, if I actually have a chance to edit them, I hope I can help authors make them more readable and accessible.
What is your top tip for writing the best paper?
I think it really helps to introduce each section of the paper (or each paragraph) by explaining the rationale for the experiments in that section (what specific question is being addressed, and how does it contribute to answering the overarching question of the paper?) and then to end each section with a clear conclusion. The sections should build up to the final broader conclusion. Anything that doesn’t directly fit into this scheme probably doesn’t belong in the paper.
What is the most common mistake people make when writing their paper?
I don’t know about most common, but some common mistakes include using too many acronyms, not providing a full description of the experimental approach, and assuming more background knowledge than an average reader of the journal would have. Also, worrying too much about length limits at the expense of clarity.
When Ilil is not editing, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially outdoors. She loves hiking, but also backpacking when she gets a chance, and most of all exploring the desert.