Image: Polishing the chimney of a Burrell Traction Engine. © Oast House Archives, CC BY-SA 2.0. What? You think this is only tenuously connected to the post? My friend, tenuous connections are my thing.
One of the most exciting parts of being a mid-to-late-career researcher is seeing the scientific writing produced by the early-career researchers (ECRs) I’m mentoring: Honours undergrads, grad students, postdoctoral fellows. It’s a treat to see a new manuscript (or more often, a new piece of a manuscript*) ping its way into my inbox. A treat, but of course also a new obligation, because I put a lot of effort into editing ECR manuscripts. The question, though, is how much effort? And what kind of “editing”?
Once upon a time, I would simply take an ECR manuscript and make “track changes” edits until I was happy with the results. In other words: I would polish the writing (albeit with the use of “track changes” so the ECR could see and learn from the edits I made). I don’t do that any more. Continue reading