Cactus Communications Freelance Science Editor Reviews

Updated 2 Dec 2018

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3.3
80%
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Cactus Communications Co-Founder and CEO   Abhishek Goel (no image)
Abhishek Goel
1 Rating
  1. Helpful (3)

    "Cactus: A flexible, freelance opportunity"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Editor (Science) in Perth, Western Australia
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Cactus Communications

    Pros

    - Extraordinarily flexible - pick-and-choose working hours. - Rewarding - ultimately, you are facilitating the publishing of manuscripts by authors whom would otherwise be unable to publish important, progressive research. - Adequate recognition of effort and quality. - Editing is a learned skill! Whilst a base literary ability is required, ultimately, Cactus does an excellent job of guiding you with respect to the structure and purpose of the work. The consequence of which is an opportunity to work in a highly engaging field, often within the realms of personal interests (I, for example, study and research in the medical field), without explicit experience. - Great pay, provided you can produce high-quality work. - Engaging and varied - I work on papers published in numerous biomedical fields; to this end, I find myself continually engaged with the work. - The opportunity to receive author feedback: this seems like a small fact, but when the author expresses sincere thanks for the work done, I find this to be exceptionally gratifying.

    Cons

    - Often, when following-up on jobs, turnaround times can be, perhaps, a little short - especially when working at Cactus as a periphery job (i.e. with other, day-to-day commitments). However, I find the management team to be very reasonable in this context, and often a solution can be found. Furthermore, this is comparatively rare, and only occurs with the highest paying jobs; therefore, in general, I would consider this an inevitable (and fair) consequence.

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  2. Helpful (3)

    "Freelancer"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Science Editor in Brisbane
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Cactus Communications

    Pros

    Good flexibility to choose when you work, good frequency of assignments

    Cons

    Arbitrary feedback determines your payment rate, and the effort required for each edit is not accurately reflected by the remuneration

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  3. Helpful (5)

    "Glad I attempted, but not worth it."

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Freelancer - Freelance Science Editor in Melbourne
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at Cactus Communications for less than a year

    Pros

    Appreciated the flexibility to pick and choose your assignments.

    Cons

    The work is very involved and for low pay and then you receive unfair and often contradictory reviews.

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  4. "Good start for freelancers"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Science Editor 
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Cactus Communications for less than a year

    Pros

    It gives you a good exposure to editing work and teaches you what to pay attention to when editing.

    Cons

    The work is difficult at times and requires investment of time initially.

  5. Helpful (5)

    "Well, not bad!"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Editor (Plant and Animal Sciences) in Houghton, MI
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Cactus Communications for less than a year

    Pros

    They pay on time. Work flow is steady. You can manage your own work time. Support team is responsive, although I live in the US. They listen. The support team is strict, but responsive. I once uploaded an empty file by mistake and the reviewer had to edit the file herself to meet the deadline. My manager let the mistake slip by with a 10% deduction on that assignment and a warning, when i sent the correct file. Although it was useless to them then. Phew! They don't send work back for review! At least, i didn't receive any in the two months that i've been working with them. Reviewers are kind and mostly give very detailed reviews. If you work hard and keep your eyes open, you'd easily keep getting 3 or 4 on a scale of 4, which improves your rating and you get paid more on each assignment. I got a 2 only once, and that was my first assignment. It was a 2 because it was 'overdone.' o_O oh well!

    Cons

    Editing rates could be better, definitely be better, in fact. They sometimes call at really awkward times. Time difference, people! Pay attention!

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  6. Helpful (6)

    "Great for gaining experience and working flexibly from home, but don't expect to live comfortably from it"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Science Editor 

    I have been working at Cactus Communications for less than a year

    Pros

    Great if you want to gain some initial editing experience under your belt. You can work from home and choose your own work hours, so long as you meet the deadline. The online work interface is intuitive and easy to use. A lot of tips and assistance are available on how to edit effectively in all aspects of the job. You receive feedback and a quality feedback rating on every job you complete. If you get a low rating, you receive advice on how to improve. You can earn more money if the quality of your work is consistently high.

    Cons

    Work comes in as and when they are available, and on a first-come, first-served basis. Only a few jobs might come in on some days, especially the weekends. Consequently, you might not get anything to work on and not earn any money during those days. In the same vein, things can get quite competitive as other freelancers are waiting for the same jobs you are. You typically have anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes to decide whether you can work on a job before its gone. You get paid on a per word basis and the quality of your work, not on the difficulty of the work. So you might work on something for the whole day, solely because the client isn't that fluent in English. but not earn enough to justify that time. The feedback can sometimes be unfair. You can get penalized for the tiniest mistake with some jobs. resulting in you receiving low ratings and risking losing the quality bonus. Also, the quality rating system is very granular. You receive a top rating of 4 if you have made zero mistakes. If you make a mistake that wouldn't quite constitute a whole unit lower rating, you may still drop down to a 3, with no in-between. This can add up and result in you losing your quality bonus at the end of the month, which can be discouraging both for you and the person who manages you in Cactus as they expect a certain level of performance.

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  7. Helpful (9)

    "Dishonest Management, Low Pay"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Freelancer - Freelance Science Editor in Chicago, IL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Cactus Communications

    Pros

    -No experience required to get hired -Good way to gain a working knowledge of editing techniques if you're interested in science writing

    Cons

    -Uneven feedback from editors, inconsistent standards that seem very subjective -Assignments are allocated through email throughout the day. I wasn't able to grab many because most were sent in the early morning hours while I was sleeping, probably because of the time difference between U.S.A and India -I was given no training period. I received low ratings for my first three assignments despite spending a significant time editing (for $15/1,000 words, the pay is rather low for the amount of editing involved). Again feedback seemed arbitrary, and I question whether some of my "errors" were actual mistakes -Subsequently dropped from company after first three assignments, presumably for a low quality rating although I feel that I was still in the process of training and learning

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  8. "Freelance Editor"

    4.0
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Science Editor in Killarney

    I have been working at Cactus Communications for less than a year

    Pros

    Work hours to suit your schedule. Work from home Allows you to preview jobs to decide if you want to take on the assignment. Easy to navigate online system to organise work load

    Cons

    Pay per words edited does not take into account the time required to produce a qualtiy edit. Some jobs require much more work for the same pay.

  9. Helpful (14)

    "OK for initial jobs, hellish after."

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Freelancer - Freelance Science Editor in Chicago, IL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at Cactus Communications for less than a year

    Pros

    Easy to qualify for, to meet technical and writing skills, at first, anyway. For the first five jobs, which is the probationary period, feedback and rating is reasonable. Could be a good way to gain some editorial experience and hone your skills, provided you can anticipate how a given reviewer is going to assess your work. The job involves editing and rewriting papers, draft journal articles and article translations, where you may need also to apply your technical skills to ensure technical integrity, terminology, as well as whether references are cited correctly. Many of the documents, while often not being prepared for top journals, are very interesting, concerning diverse topics which make the editing seem less like work. Their online job management system is outstanding. Bottom line: If you are looking at Cactus, take advantage of the probationary period, when the Reviewing Editors most likely will give your work a fair assessment. Maximize your pay for that period, then get out. Their reviewers will push you out after that anyway, most likely. The unhappy truth is, the lower your reviews, the less the company has to pay you. There are other editing services out there, including those run by scientific journals for their authors, which pay better, and provide better, more constructive feedback, and who will give you a real chance to learn, improve and contribute if you wish to go into scientific editing.

    Cons

    - Rating criteria seemed arbitrary and inconsistent, depending entirely upon who was reviewing the paper. Not having consistent standard procedures reflects badly on the company. - Pay is low for both the level of writing/editing and technical skills required: $15 USD/1000 words. If the time allotted to a given job were reasonable for the work required to get a document in shape, it wouldn't a problem, but that is rarely the case. - For about the first two weeks, working for Cactus is fine (probationary period). But, after that, what the editor is paid by Cactus Global is adversely affected by the reviewer's assessment. That's when reviewing becomes highly arbitrary, inconsistent, contradictory, and in my opinion, unfair. - There is no way to discuss or dispute what the reviewer has done - s/he is the final arbiter, right or wrong. It felt very much like, at times, the goal of the reviewer was to make sure the job did not receive full payout, rather than ensure the author got a decently edited paper. Some of the changes the reviewer made were not corrections, but changes in style and tone that added little. But they were presented as corrections, for which penalties were assessed. - There are two editors at least who conflate stylistic differences attributable to both the author AND the editor with grammar and syntax issues. These reviewers severely (and consistently) down-rate performance, which adversely impacts one's ability to work with them. - There appear to be issues around the use of American vs. British English, where the reviewer down-rated for using American spelling, grammar and syntax, where neither the job request nor the editor specified that the edit had to conform to British norms. - The company advertises that the work is such that one should commit 5-7 hours per day of your time. However, this is a misrepresentation, especially after the first four jobs. It can easily become an around-the-clock job, especially where the authors are ESL speakers or the paper has been translated into English first. - The time allotted to complete a job is NEVER well-correlated with the amount of work that is actually required. I would think that the senior staff should be well-able to estimate jobs better than this. Some of the content can be nothing more than gobbledygook, impossible to parse and correct quickly, especially if one has to refer to journal articles and text books (library trip) to verify what the author might be trying to say. No allowance is made for that, ever. - In several instances, reviewing the file online did not give any indication of what was actually being asked for. It is difficult to return work of high quality if it isn't clear what is needed in the time allotted, until after the job has been accepted. - I felt as if I couldn't do ANYTHING right after the probationary period, to the point that what I did right one time, according to the reviewer, was dead-wrong the next time s/he or anyone else reviewed a paper. It was frustrating and confusing. - The reviewers can be quite unprofessional and arrogant about letting an editor know what 'is and isn't professionally acceptable' in any given field - I found it quite funny at times, quite offensive at others. - Communication was not what one might wish, and the fact that the editor cannot communicate directly with the reviewer is, in my opinion, unfortunate. - One might wish their work review and rating system were more fair, or that a consistent set of rules was being applied to assess work performed. It might also help if there were a mechanism in place for the editor to respond to a review or question an action, especially when the down-rating is due to differences in writing style rather than grammar or syntax. Especially when one is down-rated for the ORIGINAL text submitted by the client, rather than for the edited text. - The time zone difference between the company and my location was 13 hours. Cactus Global staff did not respect this, even though this had been documented CLEARLY in the online interface. - The Managing Senior Editors took exception with me frequently for not being available to accept jobs before 8 in the morning, local time, and for scheduling unavailable time 1 - 2 days during the week. I insisted on having a 5-day work week; this was frowned upon as adversely impacting their work flow.

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  10. "Pretty good gig"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Premium Science Editor 
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Cactus Communications for less than a year

    Pros

    Opportunity to make money in my spare time. Extremely flexible schedule. The staff in India is really pleasant to work with. I disagree with the other reviewers that the scoring is unfair. There have been times when I have gotten low scores for what I think are unfair reasons, but there have also been times when I have gotten high scores I might not have deserved. The reviewers are human, and it seems to balance out. Yes, they expect high quality work, but it's a professional editing service, so why wouldn't they?

    Cons

    The money is terrible at first. I would advise anyone who is starting out in science editing to view the first month or two as training. Eventually you get faster, and if your performance is good you have much better options for which papers to edit. I have found that standard edits come out to less than minimum wage, while the premium edits can usually be performed at around $10/hr. Obviously this is not a job to live on, but it's worth it if you want extra income without having to commit to a more rigid job.

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