Peter J Matthews

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Blogs: 6
Groups: 1
Location: Kyoto
Work interests: ethnobotany, prehistory, crop history, plant domestication, Colocasia, Araceae, Asia, Pacific
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: pjm [at] minpaku [dot] ac [dot] jp
Favourite publications: Aroideana, Economic Botany, Ethnobiology, Plants People Planet (PPP)

Editing costs

user image 2015-06-21
By: PJ Matthews
Posted in: Writing Advice

Though happy in my in my job, I do sometimes wonder what other people earn doing similar work in other countries... and how that might relate to the local cost of living. This is not a very useful exercise.

It would be more useful if I could judge the scientific and educational value of using some of my income to regularly employ an editor to look at everything I write, even though I am an experienced writer. 

The basic expectation where I work is that I produce work of relevance for my research discipline and for society in general - in academic and non-academic publications, by attending conferences, through teaching, and through museum exhibitions. Publishing in so-called "high impact" journals is not a requirement, though of course it would be welcomed.

So... how much should I expect to pay for an editor?

I need someone with experience in writing and editing generally, together with some understanding of science and scientific writing styles.

Recently I discovered a website called

I joined and then asked for a report on what I should pay, as a 'university', for a publications editor in Australia (the concept of 'employer' being an individual does not seem to be recognised).

The website generates a scenario job based on my answers to a series of questions, and describes the roles of publications editor as:

Ensuring adherence to a style guide, correct formatting and consistent use of language within a document; reviewing, rewriting and editing the work of other writers; developing story or content ideas; and holding a Bachelor's Degree. Supervisory Role: No. Skills should include Technical Writing, Writing Procedures & Documentation, Proposal Writing, Grant Writing, Scientific Writing. (my precis)

That's all rather more than I expected. I just want someone to read and edit my work, one-to-one. Still, I am after a benchmark to think about, so I looked further into the report.

The website automatically selects relevant profiles of existing subscribers to the service and uses these to generate a range of estimates.

For the particular job category I asked about, the site reports that there is much variability in compensation levels, so the estimates are not rated as highly accurate or reliable - a realistic caveat!

Here are the estimates given:

Base salary per year ($AUD): 60,607  (i.e. c. 5.8 million yen per year).

Hourly rate: $29.14  (i.e. c. 2,774 yen per hour)

This estimate was based on 165 profiles of people in the database.

The hourly rate looks reasonable to me, relative to pay scales and living costs in Australia and Japan, but I doubt that there are many jobs available for publication editors with a base salary that is so high.

For such a salary, the person would need to be managing editor of a very high impact journal that is able to attract high-paying authors or subscribers.

If many editors, proofreaders, and translators can submit profile information to (or a similar site), we might be able to get a more global view of what they are able to earn and expect in different countries.

That would be useful for all of us here at the Research Cooperative.

If you can recommend - for members of our network - other websites with information on pay scales, please comment on this blog post!


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