Upgrade case studies

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Intermediate Membership

Case study 1

After a varied work background in a number of unrelated areas, interspersed with caring responsibilities, this applicant decided to undertake editorial training, with a view to picking up work as a proofreader, which he could fit around other things. He had also been proofreading his local bi-monthly parish magazine for some years, which he did on a voluntary basis and found enjoyable and satisfying. He first attended a classroom-based SfEP Introduction to Proofreading course. He found this enjoyable, so he later took the SfEP Proofreading Progress online course. At this point, he started to investigate how he could gain further experience so he could upgrade his membership. He went to a local group meeting and, through this network, he was able to find some work proofreading for a local magazine (20 hours) and, later, proofreading for a business that published trade manuals, which he did for a year (35 hours), after which he thought that he had done enough to apply for Intermediate Membership.

Panel's response

The Panel considered that this applicant had sufficient training (7 points) and his voluntary experience (45 hours), together with his more recent paid experience, added to 100 hours, so he easily upgraded to intermediate.

Professional Membership

Case study 2

Following a long career as an accountant, this applicant decided to take early retirement and retrain as a proofreader and copy-editor. Although she had always been interested in books and loved reading, she was aware from research into the subject that there was a need for in-depth training before she started to advertise her services. She realised that this would take time and money, which she decided would be worthwhile in the long run, although it seemed a significant investment. She decided to focus initially on proofreading and to consider moving into copy-editing once she was more established. She undertook the PTC distance-learning course in proofreading and, after 8 months, she passed with merit. This result gave her the confidence to start approaching publishing clients. She took several tests and was taken on as a freelancer by an academic publisher and a project management company that provided editing services for academic publishers. These two clients provided her with a steady stream of work. Over the course of the next two years, she amassed a total of 550 hours of proofreading experience for these two main clients (alongside voluntary work for local charities and other organisations). She provided one reference from her main publishing client, for whom she had worked 320 hours.

Panel's response

This applicant had 15 points for training and met the minimum criteria for both experience (5 points) and references (1 reference, so 5 points). This meant that she had the required 25 points, and the Panel was happy to upgrade her to Professional Membership.

Case study 3

This applicant completed a postgraduate degree in creative writing. After several years working as a freelance writer, alongside other part-time jobs, he decided to train as an editor to provide himself with a complementary income stream. He undertook several online and distance-learning courses from a range of providers in proofreading and copy-editing. Although he managed to pick up varied paid work as an editor for local companies, he decided that he needed to focus his efforts and researched what was necessary to become a Professional Member of the SfEP. He took the basic editorial test and failed it. However, this helped him to see where the gaps in his knowledge were, and he undertook some self-study before taking the test again. This time he passed it with a score of 79%. On his upgrade application, he listed 510 hours of proofreading and editing experience for a range of non-publishing clients, and included one reference from a business client for whom 65 hours had been worked.

Panel's response

The applicant had an adequate reference as well as the necessary amount of experience and 8 points from passing the basic test. His original training had only amounted to 9 points but the self-study he undertook to learn that elements that had been missing from his knowledge the first time he took the test gave him the additional point that he needed to meet the minimum, and the Panel was able to upgrade him to Professional Membership.

Case study 4

This candidate had worked for 15 years in the rights department of a large trade publisher. After taking 3 years off to have children, she decided to take up freelance editing as the children became more independent; she wanted to build on her past career in publishing but allow for more flexibility in her working hours. She did not have the time available to start looking for work immediately but decided to focus on training first and build up from there. She took the PTC proofreading distance-learning course and achieved a distinction after 9 months. She later took the SfEP Proofreading Progress course online and then applied for the SfEP Mentoring Scheme, which she worked through in 4 months, achieving the full 10 points. At this point, with the experience the mentoring had given her, she felt confident enough to start looking for paid work and also applied for Professional Membership of the SfEP. Her mentor supplied her with an excellent reference detailing her skills and knowledge.

Panel's response

This applicant has a large amount of training (24 points) and full points from the mentoring scheme (10 points). The Panel considered that, given the background of the applicant and her dedication to improving her skills, her mentoring score, together with the good reference from her mentor, was sufficient to meet the minimum requirements to upgrade to Professional Membership.

Case study 5

This applicant spent 2 years as an assistant editor for a small trade fiction publisher. She had started the job fresh out of university and picked up many of the necessary skills on the job. No formal training was provided by her employer but she worked closely with more experienced editors and was also responsible for collating proofreading corrections. She then spent 3 years as a project editor for a large trade publisher. Again, there was no formal training but she learnt a lot on the job and was responsible for commissioning editorial freelancers and overseeing their work. She also found that she sometimes had to do extra editing herself, including working on page layouts onscreen. Although still working in-house, she decided to join the SfEP with a view to going freelance later. She had one reference from her most recent employer and supported her application with a pass in the basic SfEP editorial test, showing that, despite a lack of formal training, she had gained a sound knowledge of the necessary editorial skills from her in-house employment.

Panel's response

This applicant provided lots of background information about what she had learned in her time in house and satisfied the Panel both that she had been guided in her on-the-job learning by knowledgeable people and that she had enough hands-on experience of her own (rather than being just a project manager who was not personally involved in the editorial work). Her good pass in the test and the glowing reference from her employer were the final elements to persuade the Panel that her application should be successful.

Case study 6

This candidate worked as an in-house editor for an academic publisher in the 1980s and 1990s, rising to a fairly senior level. She had been trained on the job and, by the time she left, she was responsible for training junior editors and overseeing their work, together with the work of many freelance editors. She then left to bring up a family. In recent years, she had worked as an editorial trainer for an online provider and had combined this with some freelance editing, mainly for private academic clients. She did not have any evidence of her original on-the-job training and decided to take the SfEP's basic editorial test to prove her skills and back up her recent work experience.

Panel's response

Although the applicant was not able to supply any evidence of her original in-house training, she was able to supply enough details for the panel to see that she had received an adequate grounding in the core skills (which was borne out by her pass in the editorial test). She also had recent experience after her career break, which meant her skills should have been up to date. However, the Panel felt that they needed to see a reference from a recent client, so did not pass the applicant but advised her to reapply with a suitable reference.

Case study 7

This applicant had worked for several years as a scientific editor, following a career in medicine, and had achieved certification by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS). This involved passing an examination set by BELS. No further evidence was required by the Admissions Panel for upgrade to Professional Membership of the SfEP.

Advanced Professional Membership

Case study 8

This candidate had lots of freelance experience for a range of clients built up over a decade as a freelance editor, including academic publishers, educational publishers and a large charity that published many documents. He had been an Ordinary Member of the SfEP for many years, having undertaken basic training when he started freelancing. More recently he had been focusing on CPD, and had taken several advanced editing courses (the SfEP's On-screen Editing 2 and Efficient Copy-editing, as well as an InDesign course by a specialist provider, which helped with the onscreen work he did for the charity. He also used the InDesign skills to lay out his monthly parish newsletter, which he edited on a voluntary basis). He had three references, from two of the publishers and the charity.

Panel's response

This applicant showed that he had good basic training and that he was committed to keeping his skills up to date through CPD; his training points equalled 25 (8 of which had been acquired in the previous 36 months). He had a large amount of experience (2,530 hours, giving him 25 experience points) and three good references (another 15 points), which meant that he easily met the criteria for Advanced Professional Membership.

Case study 9

This person applied for Advanced Membership after a career in journalism, working for several different publications and specialising as a court reporter. Her application was initially rejected, however, because she could not show evidence of training in the core editorial skills and the Admissions Panel was not satisfied that her journalism experience was relevant. She subsequently worked quite successfully for several years as a freelance editor, having found work through personal contacts. In that time, she left the SfEP, as she did not feel very involved, and decided that she was too busy to contemplate training or attend local group meetings. However, over time, it became harder to command decent rates while working for the same handful of clients. She decided to look again at SfEP membership, with the long-term aim of picking up new skills and broadening her client base, and she went along to a meeting of her nearest local group. When she talked to the other local editors there she realised that perhaps it would be worthwhile brushing up her skills, so, over the course of the next couple of years, she retrospectively filled in the gaps in her editorial training and discovered that, although she had been doing quite a lot right, she also had some bad habits that needed correcting. As a result of the confidence and knowledge gained from the training, she was able to pick up several prestigious clients, who paid much better and provided her with more stimulating work. She began to realise that what she really enjoyed was legal editing work and her past background was a great help in getting work in this field. To make sure that she was technically up to scratch, she undertook specialist legal mentoring via the SfEP, at which she did very well. In fact, her mentor recommended her to one of his clients and she went on to carry out many assignments for that client. When she finally reapplied for Advanced Membership, she had three excellent references, the solid training and mentoring behind her, and a very wide range of work experience. Although it had not been a quick or easy process, she was extremely grateful to have realised at a crucial time in her freelancing career that she needed more training, and felt that her career was much more sustainable as a result.

Panel's response

The Panel could see that this applicant had shown commitment to updating her skills and developing her career. She had three excellent references (15 points), the solid training and mentoring behind her (17 points) and a very wide range of work experience (far more the 1,500 hours she needed). She easily met the criteria for Advanced Professional Membership.

Case study 10

This applicant, based in Australia, was already an Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) Distinguished Editor. As well as 40 years of editing work, he had 25 years' experience as an editorial trainer and mentor; he had two references from this training work and put the case in his application that his extremely significant work as a trainer, coupled with his DE status, should qualify him for Advanced Membership.

Panel's response

The Panel agreed that this candidate had clearly shown that he had been well trained and was highly skilled in the core skills. His DE status automatically entitled him to Professional Membership but his long experience as a trainer, together with his excellent references, meant that he qualified for Advanced Professional Membership.