With the help of his two brothers, a Mayo Graduate School PhD student is creating a research manuscript editing service to help researchers write and publish more easily and increase the readability of science papers. This online platform, called SlateQ, connects scientific writers to scientists.
Carl Gustafson loved writing and editing science papers. He frequently edited manuscripts for foreign research fellows in his thesis lab at Mayo Clinic. But, as he accurately told me, good writing skills are an intellectual commodity. Proper editing of science papers was a valuable service that he could provide.
Carl wanted an avenue to market his and others’ editing and writing skills and make a little income on the side to supplement the typical low graduate student stipend. He also was interested in careers in research communication and wanted to get that hands-on experience while completing his graduate work.
“I was looking online and trying to figure out, ‘how could I do this?’ I wanted to help people write their science papers and I wanted to get paid to do it. And I really couldn’t find anybody that would let me do that just as a graduate student or even as a scientist of any kind,” he explained. There were plenty of author service groups that did research paper editing, but none that could offer customers their choice of well-vetted editors in specialized fields, or that were well connected online. Most were full of inactive scientists, without current knowledge of research fields, who were now editing papers full-time.
If you can’t find a solution, then build one. Carl decided to launch his own science manuscript editing service, called SlateQ, and he had just the right co-founders in mind. Carl brought on his older brother, who is currently getting a PhD in online persuasion techniques and social influence from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his younger brother, a mathematics and computer science student at MIT, to build the business.
[SlateQ Co-Founders Abel, Carl, and Joel Gustafson.]
Together, the Gustafson brothers created SlateQ, an online platform where one group of scientists could market their editing skills and another group could get expert help with their writing.
SlateQ provides English language, pre-publication manuscript editing to increase the readability and comprehensiveness of science manuscripts, helping researchers publish better papers, faster.
SlateQ specializes in the biosciences, but has expanding expertise in communication and social sciences. Their knowledge and editor base is constantly growing.
Right now, SlateQ is building up their editor cohort and continuing the process of customer acquisition. SlateQ editors must be active in some scientific field, which could be anything from research, to science communication, to product development.
The SlateQ beta site is up and running. “As soon as we have enough funding, we’re going to be developing our full site, where you have seamless integration of your authors and your editors,” Carl explained.
SlateQ is a win-win-win situation. Researchers who want to improve their manuscripts can get specialized help from experts. All kinds of research scientists, from graduate students to junior faculty, are able to market their research communication skills. And the road to publication for new scientific studies becomes smoother because the manuscripts are written more persuasively.
“You have a talent. You have a skill. And you should be compensated for having that skill. And there’s no structure right now for people to become compensated for being skilled in writing or in a lot of other scientific skill sets actually.”