Righting citing—principles and strategies for editors and translators

METM 06, Barcelona
27-28 October 2006

Friday 27, 16:00-19:00, Room 3


Citation is an integral part of scholarly writing that has implications for translators and editors who help authors create coherent texts. Some professionals who work with academic publications report they often come across citation problems ranging from unclear or ineffective use of references to instances that fall into the category of plagiarism, even when a reference is given for copied text. Others say they assume authors must know how referencing is handled in their fields and never think of treating it as a textual feature to be examined critically along with grammar, terminology and general flow of information. Language professionals who are aware of citation issues and develop skills to recognize and resolve problems will be better equipped to support authors who publish academic texts.

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


Iain Patten with Mary Ellen Kerans
Iain Patten (about Iain)


To raise awareness of incorrect or confusing citation and to practice ways to correct it and negotiate change with authors.  


The workshop will begin with a short introduction to raise awareness of how citation is used in academic writing compared with other genres and the effect this has on the way in which the text is received. We will then go on to look briefly at the ‘nuts and bolts’ of citation—the style issues associated with different citing systems and their implications for text structure. The main part of the workshop will explore how citation affects the substance of a text and how substantive editing of citing problems can be used to improve elements such as the flow of information and the ‘voice’ of the author. Participants will take a problem-based approach to dealing with citing issues and will consider how to negotiate changes with authors. Discussion of problems will ultimately address the more complex issues presented by minor and more extensive plagiarism, and participants will gain confidence in engaging with them both at a textual level and through discussion with authors.


Following a brief introduction, the workshop will be organized into 4 sections:

1) Citation systems in the 21st century—and widespread misconceptions
2) Citing and substantive editing (1) – info placement
3) Citing and substantive editing (2) – interweaving voices
4) Plagiarism and querying

The workshop will take a problem-based approach and a number of different examples and practice tasks will be discussed in each section.


Who should attend?
Anyone involved in helping prepare academic texts for publication. While the examples will be mainly drawn from science and medicine, the principles are relevant to other scholarly disciplines. Emphasis will be placed on the work of editors and translators; however, the workshop will also be of benefit to other professionals who support authors with English academic writing, such as teachers of writing or English for academic purposes.


Outcome skills
Following the workshop participants will have developed skills and confidence in 3 specific areas:

1. Spotting a citation problem
2. Resolving citation errors
3. Negotiating with authors and correcting misconceptions

Participants will be more aware of the place of effective citation in scholarly writing. They will be more sensitive to citation problems in the texts they work with, and will have practiced a range of ways to deal with citing problems in texts through editing or talking to authors about changes.


Pre-meeting information
Citation systems

Participants who are not already familiar with the most common referencing systems, namely the “Harvard” or name/date system and the “Vancouver” or numbered system recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, may wish to acquaint themselves with these systems before the workshop. A brief overview with links to further information is available at the website of the British Medical Association:

Identifying and resolving citation problems

Click the links to look at the types of examples we will explore to analyze the nature and possible causes of citation problems, the ways in which they can be directly resolved by language professionals, and approaches to explaining them to authors.




What happens when things go badly wrong? Read about an instance of alleged plagiarism in the British Medical Journal that was recently publicized by the British newspaper The Guardian.,,1674338,00.html

Issues associated with plagiarism and guidelines for training academic writers can be found in material developed for the US Office of Research Integrity by Miguel Roig, a plenary speaker at METM 2006:

About the facilator

Iain K. Patten, PhD, is a freelance translator and editor based in Valencia, Spain. He comes from a research background in biomedical science and is interested in issues associated with effective communication of scientific information.