The simple life of an editor

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Try explaining what you do for a living using only the 1000 most common words in the English language. This is the basis of the so called ‘Up-Goer Five‘ challenge (handy text editor available using that link) – sparked by an xkcd cartoon that tries to describe the Saturn V rocket in the same way. Several others in the chemistry blogosphere have made attempts so I thought I would try to explain being an editor – here is what I came up with:

Some people do some stuff that they think is new and exciting. They send it to us so we can help tell the world about it. We ask others who do stuff like it to help by telling us if there are any problems and whether they too are excited about the stuff.

If they are then we try to make it possible for lots of others to understand and explain to them why the stuff is important and why they should care.

And as a secondary challenge, if you don’t want to try writing your own, why not try to guess what other people do based only on their simple description.


Stephen Davey (Senior Editor, Nature Chemistry)

Stephen Davey

Chief Editor, Nature Reviews Chemistry, Springer Nature

Stephen holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Sheffield where he conducted research on asymmetric nucleophilic catalysis. He then moved to Groningen, Netherlands for postdoctoral research on the synthesis and applications of light-driven molecular motors. He has been a chemistry editor for 12 years. He began his editorial career with the Royal Society of Chemistry (working on the journals Lab on a Chip and the Journal of Environmental Monitoring). In 2008 he joined the launch team of Nature Chemistry and later that year moved to Boston, USA where he stayed until the end of 2015. Shortly after returning to London he moved jobs to become Chief Editor for Nature Reviews Chemistry, which launched in 2017.