hourly rate for scientific journal editorial work?
April 7, 2011 10:36 AM   Subscribe

What is an appropriate hourly rate for scientific editorial work?

So - there is a possibility I could do some freelance editorial work for a scientific journal (not copy editing). I have a PhD and relevant experience but have never done this specific type of work before. The journal wants me to submit my hourly rate requirement.

Searching here and elsewhere, I've seen numbers quoted from $25/hour up to $200/hour - most of these seem to be copy-editing of non-scientific magazines or, at best, copy editing a thesis for English grammar and clarity. Any thoughts on what is an appropriate number or range in a scientific context where the PhD and matching technical experience is required?
posted by anonymous to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of editing *will* you be doing? There's a wide range of editorial roles beyond copy editing and unless you're more specific it will be hard to propose a range that makes sense.
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 10:48 AM on April 7, 2011

The first number that leaps out at me is $60/hour. That just feels like a nice round number.

Rates are so variable. It depends on the nature of the work, (I don't really understand what editing means in this context) but it also depends on other factors. I would say it depends a great deal on how many hours per week they want you to work, and whether they want you to be available on call. Also, are they including communication back and forth with you in the hourly rate? Some employers like to call at 11pm on a Friday with an urgent request, and if that's the case you should be compensated for that.
posted by ladypants at 10:50 AM on April 7, 2011

Again I just pulled $60 out of the ether. As Yoshimi points out, it depends on what kind of editing you'll be doing.
posted by ladypants at 10:51 AM on April 7, 2011

I asked this question to a colleague recently and was referred to this website:
Editorial Freelancers Association. Also, ask to look at a page or two of the material you will edit so you can give a better estimate (if it is so horrible that it may take longer and hence a higher rate).

Like the other poster, I'm not sure what type of editing you plan to do. If you are copy editing scientific journal articles, most very experienced freelance editors with this specialty charge ~$50/hour (although these are the few that I know). If you are reorganizing the paper and actually rewriting, it should be more, obviously, and would require more than editing skills.

I just reread your post; journal companies sometimes pay lower. Nature, for example, pays horrible salaries to employees with your background, so I would not expect much if they were your potential client. Do you have interest in doing editing for other companies? Say medical communication companies? Because many of these have journal articles that need editing. Or writing the material? You can typically get a higher rate to write vs edit. If you have any interest in the above, I can point you to a list with the emails and names of ~100 or so companies, although it is harder to find companies that are looking for editors for journal articles only. Feel free to memail me.
posted by Wolfster at 11:01 AM on April 7, 2011

Most places really don't pay well for this type of work, unless you have an obscure specialty or are in the medical research field. If you aren't, I'd say $45/hr.
If it's a journal that is tied to a pharma company or something like that, quote double.
The real question is what would make it worth it to you to do the work?
Also, is this something you are interested in and a feather you want to put in your cap or is it just some extra cash?
posted by rmless at 11:38 AM on April 7, 2011

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