Many roads lead to Rome, or so they say . . . Now, not all roads are going to lead to being proficient in research grants editing! However, in this post we see the variety of experiences and education that have helped our experts excel in their work. As with the other posts in this series, we’ll hear from Tara McDonald, Annie Moore, Nandini Maharaj, and Brianna Wells.
How did you acquire the qualifications you needed for this work?
Tara: I was initially introduced to the role by a grad school colleague. I leveraged the skills and experiences from my PhD to get the gig: my background as a research assistant, teaching assistant, and course instructor; my own success with grant applications; and organizational, oral, written, presentation, and time management skills acquired while completing my dissertation. The ability to distill large amounts of information into digestible pieces of persuasive text is a key transferable skill for grant writing.
Annie: My field of study was contemporary Anglophone poetry, with an emphasis in critical and lyric theory. I can’t say I’ve brought any of that knowledge directly into my work, but sometimes my close-reading and critical-thinking skills are useful in flagging terminology that should be changed, or in qualitative research proposals (for example, the metaphorical weight of terms like “frontline staff”—healthcare is not a battlefield!).
The ability to write and edit at a high level was valuable, as was the ability to synthesize long and often complicated materials into accurate summaries for a range of reading levels (i.e., lay summaries or background information). And I did bring a list of academic grants I’d received to my job interview! My knowledge of the academic publishing process also helped, because I can support our health researchers who submit articles to peer-reviewed journals.
My experience as managing editor for the academic journal Postmodern Culture was part of what drew me to apply to my current role and contributed to my success. As managing editor, I have to balance incoming submissions, identify and invite reviewers, and share results with our authors. As grant facilitator, I’m now responsible for a similar process in managing Island Health’s internal research granting program.
Nandini: Several jobs I applied to didn’t see the relevance of my PhD. I’m able to apply both my communication skills and research skills from my training as a counsellor and a researcher, respectively. The job requires problem-solving, critical-thinking, and strong interpersonal skills which align with my background and education.
Brianna: I think having the experience of writing a dissertation positions me well to gain and keep the kind of trust and confidence of the people I work with, because I see those moments where they’re struggling alone with their project, and I understand a little bit about how that feels. So just doing the PhD as a sole author project and not in a lab setting was very important.
As a graduate student, I was a research assistant in the English, Drama, and Music departments. And two of those RAships were full book-editing projects. These projects involved copy editing and doing close readings of academic work in disciplines different than my own.
And then the last piece, I would say, is just networking. Through my PhD, I went to a lot of different kinds of conferences because of the nature of my research, and some of the folks I work with here at UBC Okanagan I had already met.
Read the next post in this series: In-House Grants Editing: Challenges, Rewards & Recommendations
Read the previous post in this series: What do In-House Grants Editors Do?