- Treat them as an inferior until you need something from them. This will make them incredibly grateful for your sudden interest in them when you…
- …hand over a “close to final” manuscript that MUST be proofed and edited BY TOMORROW, because having a deadline for manuscript submission makes total sense. Everyone enjoys the adrenaline rush of a sudden tight deadline on top of an already heavy workload!
- Have at least one typo in the file name. Your friendly local manuscript editor (YFLME) will be so excited by receiving a file called reserach_outlien.doc that they will barely be able to contain their excitement to open the document and see what treasures lie within!
- Everyone knows that you don’t need to read papers to be able to write one. Why not prove it by completely ignoring the conventions of scientific manuscript formats and styles? Put your most exciting result up front, even if you haven’t yet described the novel system you’re using! Put the discussion of your results’ significance in the figure legends! YFLME will have such fun solving the puzzle of which parts should be pasted where!
- Do not, under any circumstances, run a spell check, especially if you don’t have English as your first language and/or you know you’re a sloppy typist. What are YFLMEs for, if not to hunt and fix typos? Your time is much more valuable than theirs, so make them earn their money!
- It’s especially fun for YFLME when you consistently misspell the name of the gene and/or the disease you work on, as well as common scientific words such as lysate. For bonus points, consistently misspell a word that is written in six-foot letters over the door of the building in which you work! Whatever your first language may be, YFLME will be hugely impressed by your attention to detail, and will assume that you paid just as much attention to the accuracy of your experimental work!
- Finally, do not include YFLME in your acknowledgements section. The satisfaction of a fun job, done well will be thanks enough.
Unbelievably, many of my colleagues manage to ignore ALL of these common courtesies. Several others have mastered at least one, sometimes even two or three, but no-one has yet managed to combine them all in one manuscript.
Why not strive to be the first?! I promise you that if you accomplish this feat, I’ll make you an internet superstar!
(I actually really enjoy manuscript editing. Most of the time. And I have great respect for people working and writing in a foreign language, especially if they grew up using a whole different script*. It’s very satisfying to help them turn their drafts into a more polished, submission-ready paper, and most of them appreciate the assistance (if there’s enough time, I always make sure to explain WHY I made my changes). Some first drafts have been painful to read; I literally couldn’t take more than a paragraph at a time of one particularly gnarly word salad, but it was for someone I really like, so I persevered. A co-author with English as her first language told me that she hadn’t been able to handle it, but that when she saw my edits, “it was like a miracle had happened”. THIS is why I do it! But the acknowledgements in the published papers are very nice, too).
*this is still no excuse for sloppiness and inattention to detail, though.