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Career Story: Chief Proofreader And Fact-Checker For A Medical Journal

Chief Proofreader And Fact-Checker For A Medical Journal

Job Title: Quality Assurance Manager

Type of Company: The parent company is a medical society. My company is the world's premiere medical journal.

Education: BA, English and Sociology, UMass-Amherst

Previous Experience: I worked in a silk-screen label-printing shop, then as a typesetter and proofreader for a publication printing company. Since 1980, I've worked at my present company, moving up the ladder from proofreader to coordinator to assistant manager to manager.

Job Tasks: I oversee a staff of six proofreaders and fact-checkers. We are responsible for checking the accuracy of the printed word, the illustrations, and the interactive elements that go on our publication's web site. We check the accuracy of references that authors use to support their work; check the style and accuracy of the typeset text and tables, as well as data in graphs and illustrations of anatomy, mechanisms of the body, and medical procedures. We also check videos and interactive web elements.

Job Tips: Although it is helpful to have some familiarity with scientific and medical terms, the most important thing is to have a good base in English grammar and composition. A broad liberal arts background will stand you in good stead no matter what the subject matter you are proofreading. When I started proofreading medical material, I had to look up everything. Even though the amount of time I spend looking through dictionaries has dwindled, I still use reference books religiously. It's better to look it up and be sure than to guess and allow an error to go through.

Additional Thoughts: My career calls for a keen eye and attention to detail. It is also important to be dedicated to the task at hand and to the publication's overall goal.

If a student were to shadow me for a day, she or he would realize how serious everyone at our organization is about the quality of our publication. Each person realizes that their job and their part in the organization -- no matter how small -- is important.

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