What is a Science Editor?

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  • Written By: N. Phipps
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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The science editor plays a crucial role in the publication of various written materials, from books and manuscripts to proposals and journal articles. Science editors proofread and edit summaries of scientific documents on health and environmental issues. Many science editors, for example, are responsible for editing articles in health or science journals and magazines. Nature articles are also popular. Oftentimes the editors will contribute their own writing to these publications.

When editing documents or manuscripts, a science editor helps ensure that the author’s ideas are conveyed accurately. Therefore, science editors must demonstrate an understanding of scientific jargon. They must have excellent language skills, especially when translating complex information from non-English speaking clients like French, Spanish, or German. For instance, science editors may work closely with non-native speakers, helping them to project their ideas in English which is suitable for their text, and in the appropriate style. This improves the chances of scientific journals or magazines accepting the work for publication.

In addition to correcting grammar and other typos, science editors may recommend changes to improve the overall quality and readability of the documents. A science editor must have adequate computer skills as well. The areas of experience vary among science editors but may include physical, chemical, and earth sciences. Specific expertise in the environment or the science and health topic covered is also recommended.


Generally, the science editor will possess an academic background in science or engineering, health and medicine, or mathematics. However, many scientific editors are capable of editing scientific texts in a variety of academic disciplines. Most scientific editing positions require a doctoral degree and postdoctoral experience in their respective fields of expertise such as a PhD, MD, DDS, or DVM.

Depending on the particular area of expertise, responsibilities may also vary. For instance, a science magazine editor must approve all articles as well as the magazine’s general layout. This editor may be responsible for the hiring and firing of staff as well. On the other hand, some science editors provide freelance work instead. Nonetheless, most of these editors must use advanced research skills to stay up to date on the latest scientific advances as well as to validate written materials.

Occasionally, an editor will attend science conferences and workshops, collaborating with others from the field. While an editor may enjoy a comfortable living, average science editor salaries can vary greatly due to the company, location, industry, experience, and benefits available.


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