21 May 2013

Dream job #BEDM

OK, this shouldn't be too difficult. The job I currently have matches up pretty well with my dream job. Or at least, it comes pretty close to what I have wanted to do for the last 5 years or so.

As an aside, I do sometimes wonder if I enjoy my job because I am easily pleased after wanting so desperately for my PhD to be finished. But I'm pretty confident that's not the case. I'm not a bare minimum (BM) kind of person. I often like to make things interesting (read: difficult) for myself. Just as a test, you know? It means I wouldn't stick at something long if it were too easy, not challenging me or I wasn't learning anything new.


So, what do I do? I am a publishing editor for a scientific research journal; they publish academic research in applied physics, both in print (weekly) and online. It was the only job I applied for post-PhD and was ecstatic when they called me a week later to offer me the job. Time for a picture. This is the reception of my building. Pretty swanky really.


By the time I finished my A level in physics, I couldn’t envisage myself doing anything other than physics. My A level physics teacher was so inspirational that I considered being a physics teacher; we can never have too many of those! I imagine it may have all started sooner than that, though. My father loves science and would sing its praises at every available opportunity. Also, during high school, I attended a WiSET (Women in Science, Engineering and Technology) activity day funded by my school. With all this, I had already begun to disregard the idea that science was only for boys!

During my bachelor's degree, I knew I wanted to put my background in physics to direct use and wanted to make a contribution to physics in some way so, a career in science, technology or engineering was always the goal.

After the PhD, I decided conducting scientific research wasn’t for me. Working within the scientific publishing sector would mean that whilst I wasn’t doing research anymore, I could still feel connected and even help to facilitate the communication and progress of scientific research. The job description was exactly what I was looking for and the company itself seemed like a great institution to work for.

Fundamentally, I love physics and it is the future; I want to be a part of that!


This is probably the boring bit. I manage the peer review process for the journal; the system used to assess the quality of scientific research before it is published. First, I assess articles submitted for their suitability; most importantly, whether the topic of each article falls within the scope of the journal and ensuring it meets other stringent criteria outlined by the journal and us as a publishing company. Then, I select appropriate referees to review the article which will be other experts within the field the article concerns, i.e. 'peers'; academics and industry professionals, for example. These reviews allow me to make a decision on the next course of action required; fundamentally, whether the article should be rejected, revised by the authors or accepted for publication. Each day is a mixture of all these activities and I manage the article’s progress from start to finish. Accepted articles are then passed to the production department. Scientists and researchers can be quite eccentric and there isn't a day that goes by where we don't have a little giggle at some of the things they can come out with when reviewing a paper, or the authors themselves when responding.

There are perks. On an occasional basis, I attend conferences to promote the journal and its activity, and to meet potential authors and referees. I also liaise and meet with members of the Editorial Board; the people who ensure the quality of the journal. After just 6 months in the job, they sent me to San Francisco to represent the company and the journal. I had a wonderful holiday and fun times, and met some truly awesome people. I shall be going to Rhodes, Greece in August and Denver, Colarado in November. Not bad really!

But what if...?

This doesn't mean there aren't other jobs that interest me or that I would be happy doing. There were a number of jobs I wanted as a youngster, including a singer, an interior designer, a forensic scientist and a teacher. But those motivations dissipated. Although, I envisage something with music would still be quite enjoyable.

In some way, starting a business of my own would be a dream, even though I'd have no idea what the hell I'm doing! And my mind flirts with the idea of something creative to which I could apply my affinity for logic, efficiency and organisation to. Top of that list comes a bakery/cupcakery/wedding cake maker or a stationery/letterpress business. Maybe one day eh...?

This month, I'm taking part in Blog Every Day in May (BEDM) and this is day 21.


  1. That sounds like a really cool job! I love science and math, and even though my passion is in the arts (acting), I attended a high school with a specialization in math and science. It's definitely not just for the boys :)

    1. Thank you! I enjoy it at least. Yay for loving science and maths as well as your passion for acting. We need more people open to it all, girls especially!

  2. I am so glad I stumbled across your blog, it's really interesting to learn about someone's actual job from the point of view of someone actually doing it, which sounds odd, but it's so hard to know what jobs involve when just reading descriptions rather than someone explaining first hand, so thanks for this!

    1. You're very welcome, glad you found it useful. I know what you mean, sometimes you just want to know exactly what it is that people do! Especially in the publishing industry as there is no consistency with job titles and descriptions; a publishing editor at another scientific publisher could do something completely different to what I do!