Watch your edits – or don’t be a poor proof reader!

9 09 2010

Cosmoboy just published an article on “The Mark” about problems faced by scientists as a result of Ontario’s “Open for Business” Act or Bill 68 as it is known by many. In short, the bill removes an important exemption that allows scientists not to be classified as engineers, and hence have the right to practice without the supervision of an engineer.

The whole thing unfolded in real time over a period of about 3 days. Starting Sept 1st, emails from the various professional societies involved appeared in the mail boxes of scientists across the country. Everyone was treating it as a big deal except the mainstream media – they ignored it.

So writing an article seemed like a really good idea. A version was sent to “The Mark” on Sunday (5th Sept) then the article had to be revised on Monday (6th) as new information came in, and a third revision on Monday night was necessary.

By the time the third version came back to proof, things were starting to feel a bit of a merry-go-round for everyone. So a lack of attention to detail was clearly starting to be an issue… and the proof reading didn’t get it’s due attention.

Big mistake!

At some point, the line:

While science has never been funded solely for the sake of discovery, it is now seen as an economic driver.

became

While science has never been funded for the sake of discovery, it is now seen as an economic driver.

Big difference! The meaning of the original is that science is evolving more towards being funded primarily for economic spin-offs as opposed to the implicit value of discovery. In the current economic climate nobody seems to disagree about that. Writing a grant proposal today requires careful attention to outlining skills training and the wider value (including possible economic benefits).

However, the published version just sounds like an cynical comment on science funding. Colleagues were understandably upset by this version. Fortunately “The Mark” switched things back to the original in a hurry. It should probably have said “primarily as an economic driver” as well.

Moral: if people care about what you are writing about passionately,  don’t take proof reading lightly! Probably shouldn’t have to say that… But, lesson learned!

Oh, and the exemption clause issue is sorted out

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