Short Course for Manuscript Editors at the 2011 Council of Science Editors Annual Meeting

Today in Baltimore, a group of 35 participants met to learn about and discuss topics relevant to manuscript editors in the Council of Science Editors Short Course for Manuscript Editors. The morning started with Jane Wiggs of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, addressing the editing of abstracts. The session covered the importance of a well-written abstract, the elements of a good abstract, and how to edit an abstract to conform to a journal’s specifications. Wiggs emphasized that effective abstracts consist of clear, concise writing with limited use of abbreviations. She stated that abstracts should include number of observations (eg, the numbers of patients and controls), interventions (including dosages), identification of end points and how they were measured, results of end points in the same order as in the methods section, report of complications or adverse effects, and a conclusion based on data in the article. Her take-home message was that all the information listed in the abstract must appear and match the information in the text.

The next session was led by Trista Wagoner, a copy editor at Science, who addressed how to handle supplementary material. The group discussed the difficulties of editing (or not editing) and publishing supplementary material. Hot topics included whether supplementary material is being used by readers and how to handle authors who want to “dump” supplementary material on a journal’s Web site.

Stacy Christiansen then explored balancing patient confidentiality with dissemination of information. The group examined published photos and text of easily identifiable patients and brainstormed on ways to avoid these ethical and sometimes legal breaches. After lunch, Laura King, a freelance medical editor, led a discussion on levels of editing and how to use this system to communicate with authors and publishers. Participants discussed how they used different levels of editing in their daily work and other uses for the system in the field of publishing.

The course concluded with Elizabeth Blake of Inera Inc, who covered Word tips for editors. This practical session covered how manuscript editors can personalize Microsoft Word so it works effectively for instead of against the editor. Blake covered shortcuts, navigation, find and replace, and editing tables and concluded with a discussion on transitioning to Word 2010. The course was a great kick-off to the 2011 Council of Science Editors Annual Meeting.––Laura King, MA, ELS