Submitted by Gretchen Wrobel.

Editing as an honor



Gretchen Wrobels passion for adoption took a surprising turn. She is not only a psychology professor, but also an editor. Dr. Wrobel has been doing a longitudinal study on adopted children from their childhood through their adulthood. When she talks about her studies, I see her light up in a way that is a bit different from the normal, every day lecture. That is where her heart is! Clearly, others recognized that as well. She was asked to be a editor on a adoption journal because of her hard work and enthusiasm. For her, 2 worlds, editing and psychology intermingled to create a richer experience.

What is a day in the life in the position of editing that you have been in?

It depends on what kind of editing you are talking about. I have edited chapters of books, journals and my own writing. When I edited for a journal people sent me manuscripts of research that fit with the topic of my journal (on adoption). To start, I would look at original research and give it a once through to decide if it is fit to send out to editorial board and possibly be published. If it worked, I then sent it to 3 reviewers to get opinions. Once the opinions were made, each editor reported back to me and I made the final decision on whether it was going to be published or not. There are 3 different decisions that could have been made: publish, revise and resubmit and will not publish.

“Being an editor is an honor and a way of giving back to the field and also helps to build your career. Writing journals is a part of moving forward in education. It’s just what you do.”

How did come to be an editor of the journal? Is that just a part of continuing to a higher level of education?

I came to be a journal editor through recommendation because of my knowledge and passion about studying adoption. Being an editor is an honor and a way of giving back to the field and also helps to build your career. Writing journals is a part of moving forward in education. It’s just what you do.

Who was your mentor and how have they impacted you? Or who has inspired you / impacted your career?

My mentors were my fellow researchers. All of the papers that I wrote were collaborative; I never wrote a paper on my own. I would write and revise certain sections on my own and then when I was done, someone else would read it over.

What’s the best part of your job?

It’s being able to see and read so many things in the field that I am interested in. A pile of papers would be “set in my lap” to read about the things that I am interested in.

What was the worst part of your job?

Telling people no. I felt awful about doing it, but I made sure to tell them why I could not publish their writing in the journal. I was very carful in choosing what I responded back to them.

What is one editing horror story?

I’m not really sure what type of horror story you are looking for, but I would say the most horrific things that I experienced was when I edited a chapter of a book from a practitioner. They weren’t a practiced writer: they had trouble writing out of a paper bag, there was no flow (and) it was random. They had good stuff to say, but couldn’t write.

What’s an editing success story?

An editing success story was being asked to be an editor for the journal. The other success is being a ghost-writer on that chapter. It was kinda cool to have my name on something!

What would you recommend doing to get an internship?

To become a writer in psychology there isn’t really a whole lot you can do to get an internship, but I would suggest that you do a study, make a poster about research and present it at the Minnesota undergrad psychology conference. Take every opportunity that is available to you!

What would you look for in an intern?

In my research assistants I was looking for someone who were willing to ask questions when they don’t understand but are first willing to try to figure it out on their own. I also looked for people who were self motivated (hit deadline), were sharp and knowledgeable.

What kind of hours do you work?

I didn’t really have set hours. It was a lot of work though. I was released from one of my 7 classes that I was supposed to teach because the work was so intensive.

How did you balance work, social and family life when you were editing?

It is tricky and you need to think about it as phases and stages. I spend the summer writing and the school year is more so grading and teaching. I would also make sure to set off times for editing during the school year as well. It has also been important for me to schedule time to do nothing. I work really hard for a couple of days and then I can relax and take a break. There isn’t a formula to balance: it’s just being aware, it’s a dance. Its knowing when you need to stand back and take a break.

What is some advice that you would give for writers to be published?

Do a poster in undergrad; revise; write, write, write! And do everything that we offer for you to do in this major including taking extra steps and going to the writing center.

Through interviewing Dr. Wrobel I am more knowledgeable about the process of becoming an editor of psychology journals. It is an amazing to hear about her academic accomplishments and how she was able to edit for the adoption journal because of it. It is inspiring to hear about how her work and passion on adoption gave her opportunity to advance in her career. In addition to the advancement, it also gave her more means to get involved with the things that she cares about. It gives me more drive to get involved in the things that are the most important to me because every little thing adds up to contribute to the whole picture.

Dr. Wrobel didn’t get the editing job at random. She got it because of her hard work! The other piece that was really relevant for me was the advice that she gave on balance. Before talking with Dr. Wrobel I thought that it was just expected to keep a consistent percent balance between: sleep, work, family, social life and the other things that time is spent on. I didn’t really think that it was okay to have “seasons” or “periods” where certain things may have more emphasis than other.

Talking to Dr. Wrobel about her editing experience has really helped me to understand how vast the field of editing is. I always thought of editing as a dry, boring, cubical bound task, but now realize that it is much more than that. Editing is about reading the things that you are interested in and as Professor Gretchen Wrobel described it, an academic honor.

This interview has been edited and condensed.