ACES: The Society for Editing has recognized Emily Ayubi, editorial director of APA Style, as the winner of this year’s Robinson Prize. In addition to international recognition, she receives $2,000 and a crystal trophy.
The Robinson Prize, established in 2005, honors an “editor of the year” whose work exemplifies the values that ACES promotes. It is named for Pam Robinson, who helped found ACES and served as its first president. One of Pam’s goals was to make editors more visible in the workplace and to encourage them to take a constructive role in the publishing process. This year, there were 24 deserving nominees — the most nominations we have ever received.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ACES’ 2021 national conference was moved online again, but the work of editors around the world continues unabated.
Nominees are evaluated on a combination of elements, which can include editing, design, mentoring and training, fostering a sense of teamwork and pride among colleagues, and anything else that furthers the craft of professional editing. “Being a good wordsmith isn’t enough,” said former ACES President Teresa Schmedding, who helped establish the award. “Today’s editors need to be skilled in conflict resolution, show excellent judgment, demonstrate initiative and be able to find creative solutions to help their publications succeed in this era filled with increased competition.”
Ayubi has been exemplary in all of these tasks and traits as she led her team to produce the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association published in 2019.
For the members of the judging committee, it was immediately clear that Ayubi’s leadership skills and contributions to her own editorial team and to the larger editing world have been substantial. As the nomination letter submitted to the committee states, “Ayubi is known as much for her deep knowledge and passion for advancing writing excellence as she is for her energetic and motivating management presence. She leads by her example. No matter the project, Ayubi works to ensure that all opinions are heard and that contributions are acknowledged as the work progresses.”
In an effort to make the manual reflect our collective transition to prioritizing more conscious and inclusive language and greater accessibility, she used every resource available to her, including running surveys and focus groups and interviewing users and scholars from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
Her nominator credits Emily with the fact that “the seventh edition has many firsts: a full chapter on writing with bias-free language, a full chapter on the revised Journal Article Reporting Standards, a recognition and focus on the needs of students — including revised guidelines tailored to student papers (e.g., removing the running head from student papers), and focus on accessibility.”
“Because of Ayubi’s guidance,” one reference explained, “accessibility was a foundational element to be weighed by the APA Style team when making decisions about any changes that readers had suggested for guidelines outlined in the manual.”
As any good editor knows and understands, the guidelines we use and publish must be accessible to everyone. Ayubi understands that APA is not used exclusively by writers and editors of academic journals, and she made certain that the manual represents as many people as possible. “She oversaw the editorial direction of this edition and showed excellent editorial judgment in balancing the priorities of students, teachers, librarians, researchers, copyeditors, members of the Publication Manual Revision Task Force, other APA committee members, APA staff, and many others — all of whom expressed opinions about the direction of a new edition and details that should be included, changed, or omitted,” her colleague noted. “Under Ayubi’s leadership, the scope of the Publication Manual has grown in response to the needs of researchers, students, and educators across the social and behavioral sciences, health care, natural sciences, humanities, and more.”
And when COVID-19 started taking its toll on students, she worked to ensure they were able to access the digital manual and other resources for free.
In addition to constantly working to expand her and her team’s breadth of knowledge and skills, Ayubi saw the benefit of strengthening APA Style’s relationship with ACES by pushing her team to offer webinars to ACES members and to attend the conferences.
In 2018, the APA gave Ayubi the organization’s highest honor, the Raymond D. Fowler award, which recognizes employees “whose work ethic encourages productive and cooperative relationships in the workplace or with governance and shows a clear dedication to advancing APA’s mission.”
Judging committee member Sara Patton succinctly expressed the committee’s choice: “By using this updated style book, especially the new sections on bias-free language and accessibility that Emily helped bring to fruition, editors across many disciplines will now be even more informed and empowered to make a difference in their publications and to increase the value they’re providing to their organizations. She’s highly deserving of this prize!”
Ayubi holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University and a master’s degree in organizational management from The George Washington University. She was born and raised in Latin America while her parents worked for the U.S. Foreign Service.
The judging committee consisted of Jonathan Sims, managing editor for Nfocus Magazine and freelance editor; Laura Poole, founder of Archer Editorial Services, editor for scholarly nonfiction, and last year’s Robinson Prize winner; Tanya Gold, book editor, writing coach, translator, and literary omnivore; Amy Megill, senior technical editor at Accudata Systems Inc. and freelance editor; and Sara Patton, senior technical editor and editorial manager, AWS event content.