I’m a big faker. I edit shit all the time that I don’t know the first thing about and then try to make reasonably intelligent queries that make it seem like I know what the fuck I’m doing. Which I don’t.
As a copyeditor I already know what I need to know. I know how to stare at an equation and then compare it to how the variables and other things I don’t really understand are set it in the text. So when I set “t” in italics on page 6, it makes it look like I know what the variable means, when in fact, I’ve just made it consistent to how it appeared on the equation on page 23. Being consistent makes you appear smart.
I know how to spell. I can spot the difference between an adenocarcinoma and an adenocarcimoma. And if I don’t know whether “disome” is upper case or lower case, I search in the archives of the journal I’m working on to see how other people have set it. Majority wins. In this case, disome is consistently set lower case. I mostly don’t know what any of these words actually mean.
I parrot author’s words back to them out of ignorance. If I could say “AU: Please confirm that the sinusoidal structure of the intergalactic gargle blasters conforms to the 30-parsec model mentioned on p. 7” in other words, I surely would.
The last thing I do before turning a paper back to the author or editor is read all author queries twice. This way I don’t end up letting the author read one of my stupid asides that go something like “Please revise sentence so I know what you’re talking about” on a polite day.
How do you cover your intellectual ass?