Why I Edit Science

There are many reasons why I edit science. The main is that there are nice people who pay me to do it. But also science distorts language beyond what the average copyeditor thinks it should. You read a sentence and think, hm, that could be simpler. But then you remember that passive voice is sometimes encouraged in scientific writing (I suppose this is changing a little). But in fact the scientist is trying to explain things as clearly and precisely as humanly possible, sometimes without the benefit of writing ability or even when English is her second or third language.

Sometimes this leads to awkward sentences. But actually no one cares if it’s awkward. The reader needs that precision. to understand the shades of meaning. And ultimately the reader and the writer know more than I do. If I change that wording to something that sounds better to me, I might interfere with the sentence’s clarity. I am not responsible for understanding and fixing the arc. I am not responsible for understanding the author’s intent and help her to get there. I don’t have to organize my own life into small details that form a compelling trajectory.

Thank fucking god.

To hell with executive function. I’m gonna [I left that in there for you, Paul] count references, correct commas, query any real changes I made to a sentence. I’ll focus on the shit that no one else notices. And it’s simple and freeing. You haven’t even seen arcane until you see my journal’s requirements for the affiliation line. But it’s easy once you remember all the components, or if you have to look it up every fucking time.

And after revising my damn book for organization in a fevered rush yesterday (brag, brag, brag), it’s a relief.

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3 responses to “Why I Edit Science

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