When she was in high school, Riley Bannon wanted to be a journalist. Now, as a Johns Hopkins graduate student, she is sharing her passion and skill for clear writing as editor-in-chief of a free editing service: ReVision. Learn how Riley was inspired to start ReVision, as well as how to use their editing services or become part of their editing team.
In their youth, Riley and her brother wrote for and edited their high school paper. While he went on to become a golf writer, Riley realized she had a passion for neuroscience and studied it as an undergraduate at Northeastern University. As part of a special program, students could take six months off from classes to work a full-time job that interested them. Riley seized this opportunity to work in a lab studying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at Washington University in St. Louis. While there, she realized that her two passions, science and writing, go hand in hand.
One of her mentors in the ALS lab, Kathleen Schoch, had recently started a group called InPrint that offered free editing services to researchers at Wash U. Aware that Riley had both passion and skill for writing, Dr. Schoch let Riley serve as an InPrint editor while she was at Wash U. According to Riley, “It was the first time I realized how critical writing is for a career in science. You could have the greatest ideas and data in the world, but if you don’t know how to communicate them, they’re worthless.”
From her experiences at InPrint, Riley also gained a deep understanding of how her writing skills could contribute to science. “I had always assumed that if I didn’t understand a paper, it was because of my own limitations. All of a sudden, I had this realization that when I found a paper confusing, it was because it wasn’t written well. As an undergrad, I had very few technical skills and a very surface-level understanding of the science, but I realized I had something that even some senior researchers don’t: writing skills.”
When Riley started as a neuroscience graduate student at Johns Hopkins, she immediately sought out any opportunities to write. One of these opportunities was writing for the Biomedical Odyssey blog, which has given Riley a way to “branch into less technical forms of scientific writing and an appreciation for the weight of communicating scientific information to lay audiences.” In the back of her mind, however, Riley was still thinking about her experiences at InPrint. There were no similar, free editing services at Hopkins. Riley saw such a service as critical because she knew “how a little bit of editing could go a long way in terms of the success of a grant or a paper.” To fill this hole and bolster the scientific careers of Hopkins researchers by improving the quality of their writing, Riley started ReVision. “It’s a way to help other researchers improve their writing while getting to do something that I love.”
ReVision is a new, trainee-led scientific editing network that offers free, confidential editing to members of the JHU research community. They provide a range of targeted services to meet a critical need for accessible writing resources. ReVision will edit grants, abstracts and manuscripts, as well as review articles and other scientific documents.
Interested clients can fill out this Google Form (forms.gle/CWiStYYiRKrQuyFc8) to tell editors more about their specific goals. They will be matched with a team of two ReVision editors, who will review their document with particular attention to the indicated need (e.g., word count reduction, English language usage, clarity and organization) and provide feedback on the overall strengths and weaknesses of the writing.
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