Editors play critical--but often behind the scenes--roles in publications of all sorts, as they work to make each individual manuscript, proposal, monograph, journal, or book as good as it possibly can be.

Editors, as they are portrayed in movies and on television, are at once bookish and exciting. Science editors, like those we feature here, bring diverse and serious scientific backgrounds to their work and draw on their scientific training to help others stay current on the most exciting and important work taking place in the scientific community.

In this feature, then, we offer the individual stories of Journal Editors, Editorial Entrepreneurs, Magazine Editors, Book Editors, and Special Publications Editors. And, as usual, we have gathered a collection of Resources that you can consult as you begin to edit your own story?

Journal Editors

Deborah Sweet is deputy editor at Cell and Developmental Cell. Her job involves reading and thinking about a very wide range of scientific topics, far broader than for most researchers.

Andrew Sugden is the most senior manuscript editor in the Cambridge office of Science. Sugden's work gives him privileged access to a wide range of new and fascinating research, and the opportunity to interact with a huge number of scientists across a range of disciplines.

Susan Koester joined the editorial staff at Neuron after her first postdoc and quickly learned that being senior editor was primarily about understanding what constitutes outstanding, cutting-edge research and making sure that that was the research published in the journal.

Penny Smith works for Blackwell Science as the production editor for the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. A physical scientist, Smith tells how production editing is different from front-end manuscript editing.

Michelle Lee, managing editor of the on-line journal Conservation Ecology, finds the role allows her to bring her passions for art and science together through the technology of the Web.

Allison Lang is managing editor for Immunology, one of the monthly peer-reviewed journals of the British Society for Immunology. Lang emphasizes that editors need patience and sound management skills.

Lisa Hannan is the first managing editor of Traffic and as such has been involved in all the critical decisions required to put a new journal into the hands of scientists in the field.

Steve Simpson, following a postdoc at the Edward Jenner Institute for Vaccine Research, describes a day in his life and what he has had to learn as the editor in charge of immunology manuscripts in the Cambridge office of Science.

Laure Haak, editor of Next Wave's Postdoc Network, reports that editorial board experience can be a significant asset for career progression in the research sciences.

Angela Eggleston, a senior editor at Cell, identifies the graduate student and postdoc experiences that inform her work and help her to enjoy being at the cutting edge of research.

Editorial Entrepreneurs

Carolyn Whitehead brings her passion as a life-long learner to her work as a freelance editor and finds a balance that makes life worth living.

Moira Vekony, trained in molecular virology, now owns her own editing and translation business. In a single week she may edit manuscripts in biochemistry, virology, microbiology, dermatology, and general medicine that will appear in periodicals, textbooks, and society publications.

Tricia Gray celebrates the independence and freedom she experiences from being her own boss. Her rewards come from the success she feels in helping others communicate their ideas more clearly.

After Roger Johnson finished his second postdoc, he started writing as a science journalist. Years later he took a novel idea and turned it into Newswise, a publishing company that distributes science news to journalists.

Ramie Leibnitz, managing editor of a new Web publication called Popular Immunology, describes her experience of leaping from research to writing--and initiating a new online journal.

LS Wong moved from news journalism to be a freelance editor who stresses the importance of confirming the intent of the author in order to get the message right.

Magazine Editors

Each of the past editorial roles that Gary Burd has held, including his voluntary work for the Terrence Higgins Trust (an HIV charity), contributes to his current work as managing editor of The Biochemist, the bimonthly magazine of the Biochemical Society.

LaTrease Garrison, managing editor of in Chemistry, discusses the challenges of producing a magazine for and about undergraduate chemical science students. Garrison reminds us of the importance of understanding audience interests and needs.

Richard Reis, a Stanford University professor of engineering, produces an electronic newsletter called Tomorrow's Professor that offers "desk-top faculty development, one hundred times a year" to over 9500 subscribers at more than 500 academic institutions in 79 countries.

Special Publications Editors

Philippa Benson, managing editor at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, helps researchers conceptualize and develop publications that will enable their findings to be translated into conservation actions in the field.

Heidi Mattock joined WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer as a scientific editor for a book offering an international assessment of cancer research. The experience, including the opportunity to live and work in France, is so much more than just book editing.

Thomas Ditzinger's background in theoretical engineering was attractive to the Springer-Verlag publishing group, but he knew having the right words gave ideas the power to define truth. Now he supports authors through all the difficulties arising from the book production process.

The Next Wave editors, ordinarily an unassuming bunch, also have stories to tell about the nature of their work and the yellow brick roads that brought them to the Next Wave version of Oz.

M. Rajen has levereaged his interest in holistic medicine into a successful newspaper column and then founded the International Journal of Tropical Herbs where he is managing editor.

Book Editors

Sabine Steghaus-Kovac left Science to edit children's books on insects and spiders for Tessloff Verlag, the publisher of books that first turned her on to science (with a small "s") as a youngster.

Trudy Rising, president and publisher of Trifolium Books Inc. in Toronto, believes that the opportunities in science editorial work for those that love both science and writing are legion.

Resources

The Next Wave staff has pulled together a number of professional, employment, and information resources for editors and those who might be interested in learning more about the work of editors. The Next Wave archives are also rich with related stories on careers in science and medical writing, peer review, and journalism.