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About BELS

The Board was founded by 10 editors who had long been active in national and international professional associations in scientific editing and publishing. They began working on the development of the certification program in the early 1980s. They were assisted by consultants in testing and by administrators of certification programs in other professions. BELS was incorporated in the state of Maryland on January 23, 1991, and the first official certification examinations were offered that year. BELS now has hundreds of members in the United States, Canada, and several European countries. Three credentials are offered:

  • Editor in the Life Sciences (referred to as "certification")

  • Diplomate Editor in the Life Sciences

  • Honored Editor in the Life Sciences

The BELS Roster, a list of all editors who are members of BELS, can be accessed through one of two links: BELS Roster or Search the BELS Database.


The certification examination is a 3-hour multiple-choice test of scientific editing in English. (The 3-hour period includes time for instructions.) It resembles the standard tests used in many professions to certify practitioners. The program is designed to assure employers or clients of editors that a Board-certified editor has established a high level of credibility. Editors who successfully complete the certification examination may use the designation ELS (Editor in the Life Sciences) after their names.

More information about the certification process and the examination schedule is available on the Want to Become A Board-Certified Editor? page.


The diplomate program evaluates the abilities of more experienced Board-certified editors by means of a formal review of edited manuscripts in a portfolio submitted by the candidate. Editors who successfully complete the review process may use the designation ELS(D) after their names.

We have provided a more detailed description on the Diplomate Program page.

Honored Editor

Editors whose careers in editing in the life sciences have been so distinguished that BELS has bestowed the title Honored Editor in the Life Sciences may use the designation ELS(H) after their names.


Membership in BELS is not limited to those with a degree or editorial experience in the life sciences. Editors who have academic backgrounds in many different subjects have passed the certification examination. If you have experience in editing material published in journals, newsletters, textbooks, or reference books in any scientific or related field, you have a reasonable chance of earning certification.

BELS Freelance Ads

The BELS Freelance Ads, which hosts information about BELS members who have chosen to post an ad about their freelance editorial services, can be accessed through Search the BELS Database.

Employers wishing to advertise job openings on the BELS Web site should contact the Webmaster.

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2345 Rice Street, Suite 220 • Saint Paul, MN 55113 • United States
info@bels.org • 651-925-5528