Meet Sabrina Elizabeth Cline

Managing Editor, Sciences, 2019

What topics do you enjoy writing about? 

I enjoy writing about the pathogenesis of infectious diseases and how scientists can utilize the information they discover to design novel therapeutics. Translational research is a subject matter that I advocate because the scientific community must bridge the disciplinary gap between academic scientists, medical professionals, and the general public to improve clinical therapeutics. Additionally, this style of writing brings a sense of humanity to what sometimes is viewed as a detail-oriented, calculated, and concise subject because it shows the impact that research has on individuals. Overall, my passion as a scientist is pathogenesis research and writing about translational research in my field—science not for the sake of science, but science for the sake of improving therapeutics. 

What is your writing process?

When I begin to write, I typically break the manuscript down into four major writing points: (1) abstract, (2) introduction, (3) results, and (4) discussion. First, I conduct background research to create a streamlined thought process within the introduction to lead up to the major hypothesis of the paper. Then, I create figures to guide readers through the results section of the manuscript and ensure that they can understand the pathway I took to complete experiments related to the subject matter. I will then draw on information put forward in the introduction and experimental results to create a cohesive discussion section. Connecting these two sections and putting forward scientific thoughts and hypotheses in the discussion allows the reader to have a better understanding of the manuscript’s narrative. I leave the abstract for last because it is easier to write an abstract/synopsis of a paper once the paper is already written. 

In your opinion, what is the value of writing? Why do you write? 

Writing is a valuable method of communicating research and, without it, the scientific community and general population will not be impacted by innovative findings or novel theories. Without the medium of journal publications, scientists would not have a straightforward means of obtaining information not originally conducted by their laboratory. If a scientist was interested in another laboratory’s data, the principle investigator may not willingly share this information because of potential competition within the subject matter. Therefore, this medium was revolutionary because it allowed for the sharing of research in a way that benefits both the scientific community and the principal investigator. 

I write so that I can highlight the importance of translational research within my discipline. Pathogenesis is a fascinating research topic that directly deals with the host-microbe interactions and means of modulating immune responses to favor the pathogen. If these molecular mechanisms are only viewed as important in the scientific community, it will not create an environment that nurtures collaboration between disciplines for therapeutic development. Therefore, it is important to cross these boundaries through writing to promote collaboration between disciplines.

What has working on The Classic Journal meant to you? 

While I have not been a managing editor for long at The Classic Journal, I am excited to work with undergraduate students to aid them in their publication journey. I hope to provide them with a positive, memorable experience while also strengthening their writing skills within their field. 

What would you like for undergraduate students to know about the publishing process? 

Editors are not your enemy. Their job is to ensure that the quality of your writing is up to the standards put forward by the journal. Their questions and critiques are meant to be guidelines for refining your manuscript and not to be taken as a personal attack against your style of writing. If you view the comments as constructive criticism, it will make the revision process go more easily and (hopefully) create a better version of the manuscript than before. 

What is your biggest writing pet peeve?

My biggest writing pet peeve is authors trying to sound smarter than they are (i.e. using synonym checker to find a more inflated version of the word they originally wanted to write). Using the thesaurus does not always cause issues with writing, but it is obvious when writers use it because the selected word does not match either the tone of the sentence or the tone of the manuscript. Often, it sticks out like a sore thumb. 

Name one writing tip you believe more people need to employ.

Believe in your writing voice. It may be different than how you normally speak, but your style of writing is unique to you. Embrace this style and use it to your advantage when crafting your manuscripts—it will come off as a more genuine paper than if you attempt to force a tone that is not your own.