There’s no such thing as a dumb question. No, really. Here at DMS we don’t believe in chuckling or eye rolling our way through any query, big or small. That’s part of the reason we created our Ask the Editor forum series where section editors answer segment-specific or general questions on the spot. If you haven’t checked them out, you can review past threads here, or take a look at some highlights below!
Q: Hi Tiffany. I’ve been experiencing something in Food pieces often lately, something I’ve run into in other studio sections, but not in Food, that I find frustrating. Perhaps there is a Food-specific guideline I’ve missed. Often, I have been offered a reference that requires registration; it has come up in recipes and articles from “Cooking Light” mostly, where after a few sentences the content is grayed out. The site is selling their advice, and I think they’re pretty good. But I am very frustrated that a credit card is required to even start a two-week sample of what they offer. Am I on firm ground if I ask the writer to replace the reference with something more universally available? Posted by Roy Hobbs
A: Thanks for your post! We do require writers to provide references that can be easily verified by the CE. In your examples, it’s clear that these references cannot be easily verified by you, which is problematic for fact-checking purposes. This also makes it more difficult for the reader who clicks on these links. Whenever you encounter this, please ask the writer to replace the reference with something that can be more easily accessed by everyone.
Q: Here are some of my other questions:
- Do you use the exact topic phrase are the article title?
- Are references limited to those approved by DMS or can we choose others. Are peer reviewed journal articles OK?
- Please provide any general advice you have as an editor on how to succeed with DMS.
A: Such good questions.
- The topic phrase does not have to be the article title.
- References are not limited to those approved by DMS. You are free to utilize texts, articles you access via subscriptions services etc.; however, when utilizing this material, you may be asked by your editor to include the sentence/paragraph you referenced in your submission. The only references that are not allowed are those listed on the Blacklist here. I know you write for the health section, so it also might be helpful to check out our Recommended References in the Basic & Medical Health Guidelines here.
- The best advice I can give for succeeding at DMS is to read the guidelines. So many pitfalls can be avoided by simply referencing your section-specific guidelines as you write your first few articles. Learning the DMS style can be tricky, but once you are familiar with the guidelines (Not necessarily having them memorized,but having them handy and knowing where to look for certain questions.) your life as a writer will significantly improve. I also encourage you to ask questions! Don’t be afraid to shoot me an email about how approach a title or how to format an article. That’s why we’re here — my email is email@example.com
Q: New to Demand, so a couple of basic questions:
- What are the most common errors made by new writers and how can they be avoided?
- I’m aiming to make ACE by the end of summer. Any tips?
- Since you’re open to interrogation, what is the meaning of life? (an attempt to continue to lighten the mood…)
A: Welcome to Demand, Art.
Many new writers forget to read the segment and site guidelines before writing their articles,so they end up having to revise content that otherwise would have earned approval in the first pass.
Submitting generic content is another common error among new writers. For example, the title reads, “How to Research an Essay on the Battle of the Alamo,” and the writer submits an article on how to research a general essay. For the former title, the article should identify where to find the best sources for studying that particular event.
Deeply researching your topic and composing lean, clear prose that is particular to the title should put you in good standing in the ACE program. Of course, that’s not much in the way of tips, right? You would give that advice to any writer composing anything, including a laundry list.
What is the meaning of life? I’m still working on the meaning of “antidisestablishmentarianism.” But, Toni Morrison, who is far more eloquent than I ever could hope to be, once wrote, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
Until someone else explains this mystery more clearly, that will do.
The next Ask the Editor session is on Wednesday, February 12, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PST with Science Editor, Rachel.