“Freelancing, I have discovered, is not for the faint of heart,” writes Anna Kushnir on her Nature Network blog, Lab Life. “It's really time consuming, the deadlines are strict, the time to complete each task is frequently far too short and the monetary rewards far too slim.” (http://network.nature.com/people/U2929A0EA/blog/2009/12/20/pleasure-and-pain).

So why does anyone stick with it? Especially in cases such as Kushnir's, for whom it is a moonlighting gig on top of her day job as a senior analyst at a government consulting firm in Washington DC.

She explains to Nature Network readers — and her perplexed partner — that she enjoys reading papers and summarizing them in a controlled way, following the rules of grammar and style, and not least, she says, “I like seeing my name in print. Don't judge.”

She describes the recent task of composing a 160–180-word research highlight about a published paper as an “involved process, with multiple checks and balances” by the writer, editors and the author of the paper, which takes 8–10 hours of her time. “It's a pain, but it's also fun,” she concludes.