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Old 05-05-2013, 01:06 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,973,357 times
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After doing a bit more research on Expat boards, I've come across some advertisements for proofreaders/editors for technical publications and English-language academic applications. This actually seems right up my alley, as I have done some informal proofreading/editing of Taiwanese graduate students' technical publications, just to be nice, when I spent a summer on a research exchange program a few years ago. Also, I have written my own academic applications (of course) and proofed/edited those of friends who have English as a second language.

Some of these adds request a minimum of a technical MS + 2 years work experience + publications of your own, and they are for 40-hour full-time positions. Others are contract labor and can be done via "telecommuting". Has anyone ever worked as an English-Language technical editor? Can you make a living wage doing this (as the minimum requirements would suggest)--ie, enough to afford a modest apartment, food, and put a little away for savings if you live frugally--or are these just side jobs for in-country graduate students to lower the total amount of student loan debt they accumulate while hostel-hopping?

It's kind of an exciting prospect to "telecommute" on contract. Of course I have visions of relaxing on the beach at Yilan editing someone's research paper with a tablet PC while sipping a fruity drink. I expect this isn't anywhere close to reality, so could someone, who has done this type of work, chime in? Thanks!
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:51 AM
 
Location: Land of the Free*
147 posts, read 227,107 times
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1. asian bosses generally don't approve of telecommuting.
2. editing work can be kind of stressful:
- the company had their own deadlines and pushed a crap ton of work on me at the last minute
- the chinese esp like to use tons of cultural aphorisms in their writing. a lot of it doesn't translate well unless you know what they wanted to say. you'll need a basic understanding of the culture and language.
3. the equivalent of $2K/month is very livable for a single dude.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,973,357 times
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Thanks tom,

Unless I work freelance remotely, I'd be doing full days in their offices. That's no problem as I love the city the office is in, and it's an easy part of town to reach via the metro.

Thanks for the warning about stress. I like reading, writing, and editing technical publications but will I still feel that way about doing it 50-60 hours a week?

I'm familiar with the culture and have rudimentary language skills. One of the reasons I'm considering this work is that I would like to become conversationally fluent and gain at least basic reading ability. This would give me a means of supporting myself while learning Mandarin in my free time.

Thanks for the data point on pay. Where was this? On the mainland? Which city?
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:05 PM
 
Location: Land of the Free*
147 posts, read 227,107 times
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It's funny but I asked my manager if I could work remotely and he was actually fine with it, but I soon came to dislike it. There was another expat in the office who worked 2-3 hours a day on location, but when he clocked out for the day, he was done. He wouldn't let the office contact him for more work, telling them that he was too busy with his other responsibilities.

Me, I became instantly reachable 24/7 because I had stupidly asked to work remotely. That means that I could be bothered (and held responsible) for work at 11PM or 7AM, whenever they saw fit to send me the email. If I missed the 11PM email because I was turning in for the night, I would get a text message at 1AM asking me why I hadn't sent in my work yet.

So this is the kind of stress you should be prepared for. If you actually go through with this, make it clear that you will be unreachable at times that you designate as your own personal free time. This job can turn into an 80-hour workweek if you let it.

if you want to learn the language well, get a girlfriend. you learn 10x faster and you will have fun doing it, it will not feel like work.

This was in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,973,357 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomadwood86 View Post
So this is the kind of stress you should be prepared for. If you actually go through with this, make it clear that you will be unreachable at times that you designate as your own personal free time. This job can turn into an 80-hour workweek if you let it.
Sounds like sage advice. Thanks! If they offer me a position, and if it's salaried, I'll be sure to stake out my time. I'm not in the habit of donating my time to a company for free.

BTW, how fast were you able to get through editing technical papers (already in English)? 1000 words an hour?
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:17 PM
 
Location: Land of the Free*
147 posts, read 227,107 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
BTW, how fast were you able to get through editing technical papers (already in English)? 1000 words an hour?
Maybe around there? Hard to tell. You'll get it back sometimes if your boss understands just enough English to know that you didn't get the nuances exactly right. A typical article would require at least 2-3 revisions in addition to a few phone calls to clarify things before it was totally done and out of your hands.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:35 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,973,357 times
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Thanks Tomawood. I know about revisions and needing to communicate with the author when you just can't tell what they are trying to say. I just did a quick edit of a thesis this weekend. He gave it to me in the middle of the night with a 3-hour deadline, so it was pretty much just a hack job trying to make it understandable.

Unfortunately, my application was rejected. I got a form letter suggesting I review their training materials. I did read their training materials beforehand and incorporated them into my edits, but it is inelegant to always write in active voice, and sometimes over-simplification can remove meaningful nuances of the ideas being presented.

In your experience, do editing companies want you to follow their formulaic set of rules to the letter, even if it means papers are less likely to be selected for incorporation into journals or academic applications are less likely to pass muster?

I think I'll keep applying to other companies, but I'm not sure if I'd enjoy work where I need to follow a set of rules which produce inferior results. I'll try following the training materials to the letter on my next application and see if I still enjoy the work.
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Old 05-21-2013, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,973,357 times
Reputation: 2983
Hey, Tomawood, or anyone else who's done technical editing. Do you find that you have to follow the company forumula for editing English papers, even if the formulas are wrong, inelegant, or even less-likely to get the customer's paper accepted?

Or is it just me and my terrible English?
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