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Marc Abernathy

Developmental academic editor, writing coach, & trainer

Simply put, my job is to make my clients' writing better. I dig into a text to find the main ideas and arguments and then revise and rewrite it to emphasize the significance and contributions of the research. My goal for every client's project is for them to say, "That's exactly what I wanted to write but didn't know how to."

There is no clear career path for a developmental academic editor, but mine began when I worked as a consent form editor for an ethics review board overseeing clinical research to ensure that research subjects were able to make an informed decision about whether to participate in clinical trials. My job was to translate complex medical procedures and terminology into language that was understandable to a broad range of potential research partcipants.

Those skills came in handy when a postdoc at the University of Cologne asked me to take a look at a journal article manuscript that was having a tough time getting through the review process. This "client zero" was satisfied, and from there my developmental editing projects, 1:1 coaching, and workshop work have come exclusively through a growing network of satisfied clients who refer me.

Photo: Joanna Pianka

Photo: Joanna Pianka

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Photo: Klaudia Cieplinska

How I help researchers

Every day I work with motivated and enthusiastic researchers to get their work published and funded. I help researchers achieve these goals in three ways.

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I identify and correct structural problems, develop and refine your arguments, and clearly and explicitly articulate why your research makes a contribution to your field. Developmental text work pushes your manuscript and application to the next level. It's not proofreading - it's the developmental text work you need to get you published & funded.

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Break free from the isolation of writing, with coaching personalized just for your needs. We identify the background and context of your research, problematize extant research, and identify your unique pain points. You leave with concrete advice, renewed inspiration, and a clear plan for finishing and submitting your article or application.

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My workshop content is built on 14 years of experience improving manuscript and proposal texts. I know what editors and reviewers want to see because I read their comments in R&R response letters all the time. Modules are designed specifically for your field and needs. You leave knowing exactly what you need to do to get published and funded.

Five reasons to work with me


I love the work that I do.

Getting a text to the level that tells readers why research is important, what's new, and why it matters is extremely satisfying. I love working with intelligent and dedicated researchers who want to make an impact in their field and society. I love that I get to dip in and out of so many different fields and learn about important new research as I work. I love knowing that I'm good at my job and can improve a text that might significantly advance my clients' careers and their field. It's incredibly rewarding.


I specialize in academic writing and scientific communication.

I work only on journal articles and funding proposals: for the Academy of Management Journal, Nature Communications, Science, Administrative Science Quarterly, Business & Society, and many others. On ERC, Humboldt, DFG, Branco Weiss, Research Council of Finland, Austrian Science Fund (FWF), and Volkswagen Stiftung proposals. On initial submissions, revise & resubmits, and cover and response letters. I know the world of academic publication and funding because I work in it every day.


I know the pressures and demands of academia.

The pressure to publish and secure funding, the heartbreak of rejections and failed experiments, the competition for resources and publication, the (in some cases) lack of help from advisors, unbearably long review cycles...The list goes on, but I've heard it all and work with clients every day facing the same demands you do, so I not only empathize with your situation, but I can guarantee that everything I do will be directed toward making your publishing and funding experience successful.


I'm not a PhD.

I'm an editor, and my specialty is improving researchers' texts so that they communicate the significance to editors and peers. Working adjacent to academia rather than in it gives me an advantage because I'm not a specialist in your field or any others, meaning I work harder to uncover the significance of your research and its contribution, arguing for it in a way that improves your text and communicates to editors and reviewers why your research should be published and funded. This outside perspective helps you make the strongest case possible. Editors and reviewers look for and reward these efforts, which your colleagues might not be in the best position (or have the time or patience) to do. Professors, PIs, postdocs, and PhD students have been coming back to me repeatedly for the last 14 years to help them publish their research and get it funded. I'm not your coauthor; I'm your communication specialist.


No outsourcing here.

Before you have an editing service revise your academic text, consider their business model. Many other editing services outsource their work to part-time, contract freelancers. The customer-facing business is focused on operations and marketing, not on editing your work. If I needed an academic text revised, I would be at least skeptical of someone doing this kind of work as a side job. I'd wonder how invested they are in my success. This is not the kind of work you want a novice to help with. Academic publishing and research funding is high stakes, and publishing a paper in a top journal or securing funding from, for example, the ERC, can lead to offers for professorships or your own lab or research group. The value of either can be career-changing. Not only do I know the stakes, I make sure that every text I work on presents your research in the strongest possible light.

What my clients have to say

They can say it better than I can

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Workshop participant

LBG Career Center Winter School 2024

Thank you again for the amazing coaching session in the LBG writing school last week, it has been really wonderful to talk to you, also I was very impressed by how well you were able to summarize and connect with me about my research project!
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Editing Client

Witten/Herdecke University

Thank you for your excellent work on the letter. You literally took our argument to a higher level, identifying, emphasizing, and often expressing more clearly what our limited language was trying to communicate. After all these years of working together, you still impress me - and make me smile at the beauty of your language.
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Editing Client

University of Innsbruck

Hi Marc,
Just a quick note for the wonderful revisions and advices your provided. I met my deadline and will keep you posted on the trajectory of the...paper.

Book a session now to get the help you need

Photo: Tanita Karkuth


Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ)
Organization Studies
Organization Science
Journal of Vocational Behavior
Human Resource Management Journal
International Journal of Hospitality Management
Die Unternehmung - Swiss Journal of Business Research and Practice


Freigeist Fellowship
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - German Research Foundation
Volkswagen Stiftung
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Branco Weiss Fellowship
Emmy Noether-Programm
ERC - European Research Council
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