Why did you become an independent editor?
I wanted to be able to help authors more directly and in greater depth with their papers.
What do you like most about editing a paper?
Thinking deeply about the data and helping the authors to determine the best way to refine the storytelling, make the data presentation clear, and bring forward the major advances that the paper makes.
What do you like least?
Having to trim length to meet word limits!
What is your top tip for writing the best paper?
Paper writing in the biological science arena is very much an endeavor in story-telling, so narrative is critical, along with having a clear and logical flow. Before you start writing, it’s enormously helpful to think carefully about the central narrative that you want to put forward for the paper and hew to this as you write. The paper should take the reader along in a journey of your discovery – organize the data in a way that makes sense with the narrative rather than just in the order that the experiments were performed in, provide handholds for your readers so that they always understand why something matters and the why of the next experiment, don’t distract your reader with loose threads, and be sure to appropriately set (and answer) reader expectations in terms of the paper’s experimental trajectory, so that it’s clear what the paper does and shows.
What is the most common mistake people make when writing their paper?
Don’t assume that readers (and importantly, reviewers) will know everything and think the same way as you do! No one will know more about the details of your work or have thought as deeply about the data than you. Readers may not make the same logical connections that you would, so it never hurts to explicitly explain the relative significance of a specific result, the basis of an interpretation, or why you are doing a specific experiment (and what question it answers). More explanation is almost always helpful.