Information for Those Who Work With Dr. Karen

Today’s post is meant to clarify some confusion among some of you who are or are thinking of becoming clients related to the time required to complete the editing process.

I’ve had a few incidents this past month in which clients sent me 15-page sets of 4 different documents for postdoc or fellowship applications, one week before their final deadlines.

This is not possible. I require 24-48 hours for a response to each edit that arrives in my inbox.  I work on emails in strict order of arrival in my inbox. It takes about 8-10 working days to get through a single document, and remember we work sequentially, one document at a time.

When I give that first edit, it is not a final and definitive edit.  It is the first of up to FOUR edits included in document work.  In draft one we point out everything that you must now do to improve the document, focusing on readings in the book and on the blog so that you have the principles of good writing to take forward into the future.  We read for the weaknesses in your writing and argumentation and organization, and tell you exactly how to correct them. As many of my clients know, we will often contribute new and fresh phrasing ideas where I see opportunities to do so.  But overall, the job of revising and rewriting is yours.

The first edit will deal with large organizational and writing problems and errors.  The second, third, and fourth edit will refine to greater and greater clarity of argumentation and evidence, and felicity of phrasing.

There is no way to rush this process.  It unfolds at exactly the appropriate pacing and timeline, and generally requires all four of the edits to reach completion.

As I said, the minimum amount of time, assuming you rush your edits, will be about 8-10 business days per document. For a longer document, if I take 24 hours for each edit draft, and you then take 48 hours to do your revisions, that is 72 hours per draft.  72 hours x 4 drafts = 288 hours.  288 hours comes to 12 days.

Please recall that I don’t work on weekends.

That means in practice, the minimum amount of time for your lengthy postdoctoral application to be thoroughly edited is 2 ½ weeks.  

If you do not leave at least 2 ½ weeks for the editing work to be done, the edits will not be finished by your deadline.

Please consider yourself forewarned by this explanation, which I will be sending to all new grant, fellowship, and postdoc proposal clients.

Also, to manage the intense demand for my services and large client load, I have several policies that are firm and non-negotiable:  1) I work on one document at a time, sequentially through 4 drafts, to completion before moving to the next document; 2) each draft # (# 1-4) must be marked in the file name of each draft that you return; 3) because I make many small unmarked edits for style and clarity, clients must download and edit from the exact document that I return to them so as to retain all edits moving forward; 4) work on any new document must be pre-arranged on the schedule and cannot be launched into on the fly; 5) clients need to demonstrate what I consider to be a reasonable level of improvement in each draft–I need to see real and consistent effort to understand and execute the editing principles that I recommend; 6) Quick Review clients must submit a document that has been completely overhauled to follow the principles explained in the blog posts, models, or accompanying PDF, and be correctly labeled as QUICK REVIEW in the subject line (as explained in the instructions upon purchase).  If I find that a client consistently ignores my policies, I cancel our work together and refund 50% of paid fees; rush fees are non-refundable.

Now it goes without saying, that if you are working on short things like job letters or teaching statements, or on smaller fellowships that requires only a 2-page proposal, the work will be closer to 8 days.  But for major fellowships such as the SSHRC (I’m looking at YOU, Canadians!), the Princeton Society of Fellows, the Harvard Society of Fellows, and all the various residential and dissertation completion fellowships scattered about the country?  2.5 weeks.

Please remember that Dr. Karen, appearances notwithstanding, does not have magical powers.  The time-space continuum continues to hold sway, and editing continues to be a long, hard, grueling process with no shortcuts.

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About Karen Kelsky

I am a former tenured professor at two institutions--University of Oregon and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have trained numerous Ph.D. students, now gainfully employed in academia, and handled a number of successful tenure cases as Department Head. I've created this business, The Professor Is In, to guide graduate students and junior faculty through grad school, the job search, and tenure. I am the advisor they should already have, but probably don't.


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