Name: Monica Carreira
Occupation: Scientific Editor
About Me: I am a Chemistry graduate from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). I later obtained my PhD from the University of Bristol (UK) in Inorganic Chemistry and Homogeneous Catalysis, where I worked on a project for Shell Global Solutions. My PhD research was therefore very industry oriented, working on developing new ligands for a hydroformylation process. After graduation, I moved to the United States as a Research Associate in the group of Prof. Maria Contel in Brooklyn College (The City University of New York) to work on coordination and organometallic anticancer compounds. The chemistry was very similar in terms of the synthesis and characterization techniques, although the final application of the compounds was completely different! As such, I developed new skills related to experiments with DNA and proteins.
In 2013, I moved back to Europe and joined the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) as a Publishing Editor where, for more than two years, I carried out the assessment of articles and production tasks for their journal portfolio. My tasks in this position involved supporting the publication process of articles from submission to printing. In 2015, and after living abroad for almost 10 years, I decided to move back to Spain, where I currently work as a freelance Scientific Editor.
About My Work: My career as an editor began at the Royal Society of Chemistry, a not-for-profit organization aiming at advancing the Chemical Sciences in Industry and Academia, as well as by influencing policy makers. A huge part of their activities is supported by the Publishing Department, which publishes chemistry-related books and over 40 specialized journals. As a Publishing Editor in the Journal Department, I would assess the suitability of articles submitted for publication, but also establish and maintain good relationships with the scientific community. I even participated in the organization of a conference, which I also attended in representation of the RSC. Some of the responsibilities involved production tasks, including editing and proofreading the manuscripts accepted for publication or commissioning covers for the journals. I was also involved with the ethical aspects of Publishing, making sure all articles followed the standard guidelines (copyrights, plagiarism, retractions, etc.) and mediating author disputes.
When I moved back to Spain, I changed from working in an office with the typical 9-to-5 schedule to working as a freelancer from home. I still maintain a working relationship with the RSC, where I copy-edit books on highly specialized topics for the Books Department. In addition, I work for a number of editing companies around the world (Brazil, India, USA), as well as with some Spain-based clients. The science community is an international one, and I am glad that I have been able to maintain this aspect in my current job but from the commodity of my home! Research in regions such as China or India is developing very fast, and their scientific production is increasing at a speedy rate. Unfortunately, these authors still have trouble presenting their work and getting published in international journals, hence they seek the services of editing companies. In this regard, this is a growing business with great potential for many years to come.
My scientific background is definitely crucial to do my job. Communicating science requires clarity and accuracy, thus understanding the scientific method is fundamental. I also advise authors on how to make the most of their research and present it in the most efficient and appealing way. Although I started working exclusively in chemistry-related documents, I am now able to assist authors in many different fields (I now routinely edit about chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, biochemistry, or medicine). The type of documents I work on also covers a wide range: articles, books, press releases, proposals, etc.
As an editor, I remain informed on the latest advances and state-of-the-art technologies, while making sure that these are communicated in the most effective way. On the downside, I guess the job can get a bit tedious, which is why I try to mix different projects in different fields to keep it interesting.
Advice About Entering the Field: You definitely need to be passionate about science. This job covers many different research areas, so having curiosity for the natural world definitely helps. Also, you need to love reading, as you will spend a lot of time doing so! Another skill very valuable is attention to detail, as sometimes you will be the last person seeing something before it goes online/is printed. Finally, you need the necessary skills to establish good relationships with the scientific community.
Overall, I would recommend a job in Scientific Publishing to someone who maybe is not that keen on lab work anymore, but who will always be a scientist at heart. As you can see, you can choose to either work for a Publisher in an office, or work from home as a freelancer. Also someone looking for the flexibility freelancing offers; not many jobs as a chemist would allow you to work full/part-time with the freedom to adjust your schedule on demand.