My unique career: How I became an editor for ScienceDocs


When people ask me what I do for a living, it is a difficult question to answer. I used to answer, ‘I call myself a volunteer professor.’  Now I could call myself an instructor, a professor, a research scientist or an editor. Here’s a brief synopsis of what I do these days: conduct research, supervise undergraduate and graduate students, write grant proposals and research papers, administer research grants, collaborate and handle papers as an editor of a journal (unpaid); and teach one or two university courses and edit papers (paid). I have many stories about my unique career path that I will share; here I will provide a chronosequence of the events and challenges that have shaped my career as a research scientist and an editor.

  • The challenge of getting my first ‘real’ job. About fifteen years ago, my husband and I successfully obtained our PhDs and started post-doctoral fellowships. We managed to find post-docs where we could both live in the same place, but finding the same situation for permanent positions would prove to be more of a challenge (that is still unresolved!). The race for a tenure-track position was on. I turned down my first offer because there were no opportunities for my husband. When I was received an offer from another university, we decided that I would accept. Our situation had changed and there appeared to be possibilities for my husband.
  • My brief career as a ‘regular’ professor. Although things were going well for me, the number of options of employment or even research opportunities for my husband quickly decreased. Almost immediately we both renewed our search for another tenure-track position. This time it was my husband who got an offer. For various family and work-related reasons, we decided that it would be better if he accepted this position in a different location, so I quit my tenure track position.
  • Maintaining my research career. Although I have not yet found another permanent position after eight years, we believe we made the right choice. My husband is now a tenured associate professor. We had another child the year after we moved, and I have been fortunate to spend lots of time with my kids. In terms of paid jobs, I have taught several courses at different universities throughout the years, and even managed to get a half-time position one year. My research career has been very successful with grants, students and published papers.
  • How I became an editor. Recently, we decided that we would like to have more family income, and I have not been able to teach as much as I would like. I thought about my other expertise and strengths that could bring me some extra money. I realized that editing is one of my strengths. I have a lot of experience editing my students’ papers, and I tend to notice errors in writing and formatting. I also have experience as a journal editor. I googled science editing and found ScienceDocs. Editing contract work has been a good fit for me because it is flexible and allows me to maintain my research career. I can also use my skills and expertise to help scientists from non-English speaking countries, and learn about their research.

In future posts, I will explore some of the thoughts and feelings about my unique career including pros and cons, how to integrate family and career, and possibility of part-time academic positions.


ecology editorLearn more about ScienceDocs Editor Dr. Harper


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