First steps for translating and editing research articles—how to adopt a genre analysis approach

METM 06, Barcelona
27-28 October 2006

Friday 27, 16:00-19:00, Room 2


Original research articles in English are the main channel for disseminating knowledge, and in Mediterranean countries there is great demand for language facilitators to help authors publish. We wish to show how a little training and dedication can enable persons with a non-scientific background to move into a fascinating area of work.

This workshop is a brief introduction to the research article genre for those who have no previous specialist knowledge. It will show how genres reflect the expectations of a “discourse community”. It will convey the importance of taking a systematic approach and having a sense of genre in order to get the register right in choice of grammar, terminology, phrasing and structure. It will work through examples to identify different subspecialty forms and to illustrate some of the pitfalls that may be encountered if one fails to pay attention to genre conventions.

The workshop will also introduce the concept of methodological doubt—never take it for granted that something that looks strange isn’t in fact typical of a genre you might not yet be familiar with—and how to approach resolving your doubts.

Purpose | Description | Structure | Who should attend? | Outcome skills | Pre-meeting information



Alan Lounds with Mary Ellen Kerans
Alan Lounds (about Alan)


To discuss how to identify the salient features of a type of text that might be different from what we normally read or work with. To be warned of some of the traps that a language facilitator can fall into when switching to an unfamiliar genre.  


The workshop will show participants how to look systematically for the language features of a genre by examining one of the most deeply analyzed types: the introduction of an original research article. It will then show how to continue analyzing other sections. We will see how to study several subspecialty types in order to identify their specific differences. We will also look at particular pitfalls that can be encountered by an editor or translator who is unfamiliar with the genre/subspecialty and suggest the approach that a generalist translator/editor should take when faced with a new genre for the first time.


The workshop will be divided into a discussion of steps to take when choosing exemplary texts and examining them systematically. Sample texts will be provided as the basis for individual and group exercises that put the principles into practice


Who should attend
Generalist translators/editors, whether they are experienced or are just starting their careers, who would like to extend their expertise to a new field in which there is a great demand for language facilitators. It will also be of interest to persons with good language skills who would like to find a worthwhile part-time occupation. “Occasional” editor/translators—those of us who start off being asked to “help out” will also find this workshop useful.


Outcome skills
Following the workshop, the participants will be able to recognize the elements of original research articles. They will be able to begin choosing examples of a genre and recognizing its features. They will have acquired the bases for furthering their knowledge of this genre. It is also hoped that participants will have honed their sense of when to doubt and proceed to research and consultation, and when to feel confident that they have found a good language solution.


Pre-meeting information
Get to know the “IMRaD” article

Although there are variations on the theme of typical structure of an original research article—basically with a structure of Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion—the most systematically described version is in biomedicine. Participants unfamiliar with research literature might want to look at the well-known “uniform manuscript requirements of the “Vancouver group”. These are the agreements of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) ( Scroll down to the “manuscript preparation” section.


About the facilitaor

Alan Lounds is head of the Translation Unit at the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and Treasurer of MET. He has a degree in European Studies from the University of East Anglia.