METM14 presentation

Editing university students’ “assessed work in progress”: what we can learn from existing guidelines

Joy Burrough-Boenisch, Renkum, the Netherlands

There are now many university students who are not native speakers of English and are following degree courses in the humanities or sciences taught in English, for which they are required to submit written work in English for assessment. They are not necessarily enrolled in universities in Anglophone countries: some are studying in a European country (their home country or otherwise) in which English is promoted as the language offering access to global intellectual, entrepreneurial and scientific communities. To help these international students (as well as native English speakers) to submit texts in correct English, agencies and individuals offering language-editing services have burgeoned. There is wide variation in the professionalism of those carrying out this editing, however, in terms of their qualifications, in the editorial changes they are prepared (and able) to make, and in how much they charge. In the United Kingdom and Australia in particular, their visibility via advertisements online, in student newspapers and on university notice boards has raised concern about their role and the ethics of their work. In response, universities and editors’ associations have issued guidelines on the editing of student work. In this presentation I will introduce and discuss some of these guidelines, comparing the viewpoint of the higher education authorities with that of the language professionals. I will suggest how guidelines compiled in an Anglophone setting could also assist language professionals working in multilingual settings who routinely edit student-authored texts. In the Netherlands, SENSE is hoping to produce such guidelines. Should MET follow suit?
Joy Burrough-Boenisch is a freelance editor and translator for scientists and academics, a teacher of academic English, trainer of language professionals and a popular speaker. She is a founder and honorary member of SENSE (Society of English-Native-Speaking Editors in the Netherlands). Her PhD thesis is on Dutch scientific English. Her publications on editing non-native English include chapters in the EASE Science Editors’ Handbook and in Supporting Research Writing: Roles and challenges in multilingual settings (ed. Valerie Matarese). She has given workshops for language professionals in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom, and for the European Commission.