Research editors check the accuracy of factual information contained in manuscripts, find additional information to support written material, write and edit, and research new ideas. To become a research editor for a consumer or trade magazine or book publisher, strong writing and editing skills are necessary. Gaining experience editing and performing research for high school and university publications is a good step to get a job as a research editor. Interning is often a good way to get experience in this field.
Most research editors work for print and online magazines, book publishers, medical and scientific journals, and other publications and organizations. Depending upon the size of the publication, the research editor may do all the hands-on fact checking or may supervise a staff of fact checkers or assistant research editors. Smaller publications often do not have formal research editors at all. Instead, this task is a responsibility of lower-level editors.
Like other editorial professions, a college degree in journalism, English, mass media, communications, or a related field is usually required to become a research editor. An exception is for research editors working for scientific and medical journals publishing original research. Rather than being educated as journalists, research editors in these areas are often highly educated experts in their fields of publication, with strong communication skills that make them a good fit to work in an editorial field.
That said, the most common way to become a research editor is to first gain experience in a lower-level editorial role or as a writer. Many people start out as editorial assistants, assistant editors, or fact checkers. Sometimes writers, used to performing research when writing articles, move to the editorial side and find that research editing is a good fit. Strong curiosity and interest in the publication's subject matter and the world in general are very important when seeking to become a research editor.
Research editors may work on staff at publications or they may be freelancers. After gaining the appropriate editorial education and experience, finding work involves networking and looking at job ads to find open positions. For freelancers, building up a large network of editorial contacts can open doors to becoming a research editor. Often, freelancers will start out doing fact-checking work. Job boards for freelancers may also provide information about research work.
Another research editing position, often performed by freelancers, is photo editing. Photo research editors identify photographs and images for books and publications, and obtain the necessary use permissions. They also select the final images to be used.