Valerie Matarese, Vidor, Italy
Author editing—the provenance and prospects of our profession
Editors like myself who work directly with academic researchers, helping make their draft manuscripts suitable for publication in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, call themselves “authors’ editors” and the work they do, “author editing.” Author editing for research is a profession with a half-century of history and experience, but it has low visibility and is often misunderstood by journal editors, publishers, and academic administrators; even many persons whose work approaches that of author editing are unfamiliar with the term, its origins or principles.
The unfamiliarity with and, sometimes, disregard for author editing can be attributed to its lack of a documented history. In the arts, a documented history—provenance—is what allows connoisseurs and scholars to appreciate an object’s value and importance; when an object’s provenance is uncertain, they treat it with skepticism. The same is true for the profession of author editing for research. Therefore, to overcome misunderstandings and raise the profile of authors’ editors, we need to document our history. So, as part of a larger personal project, I did bibliographic research to trace the origins and development of this profession.
In this session, I present a potted history of author editing and show how the status of, and occupational opportunities for, authors’ editors are in constant flux in relation to bigger trends in academic research. Additionally, I consider several emerging issues that may impact our work in the future. Knowledge about the provenance and prospects of author editing is valuable for authors’ editors and other language professionals who help researchers write for publication, as it gives insight into the principles and approaches of this work and helps prepare for future challenges and opportunities.
Valerie Matarese is an authors' editor specializing in editing for Italian researchers in the biomolecular sciences. Born in New York, she trained in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology at US universities and worked in research in both the US and Italy prior to launching a sole proprietorship offering editing, writing and training services. Throughout her editing career, Valerie has been concerned with the quality of scientific reporting and how to improve it locally. In 2013, she published an edited volume (Supporting Research Writing: Roles and Challenges in Multilingual Settings) that explored the range of language-support services available to researchers who use English as an additional language. Her forthcoming book focuses on the profession of author editing for research, and will be called Editing Research.