METM16 panel discussion

Bridging the gap or a bridge too far? What should the interventionist role of the text editor/proofreader in preparing academic papers and articles for publication be?  

Joy Burrough-Boenisch, Renkum, Netherlands; Michael Friedman, Hamburg, Germany; John Linnegar, Antwerp, Belgium; David Owen, Barcelona, Spain 

This panel discussion will focus on airing a number of the thornier issues attached to editing/proofreading papers by scholars and scientists for submission to journals: 
  • What level of editorial intervention should be permissible (given client expectations, and financial and time constraints)? As author’s editor, may one perform more than a copy-edit or should one stop short at proofreading?
  • May L1 editors/proofreaders impose L1 norms on texts penned by L2 authors?
  • What should be the academic supervisor’s role in getting academic texts up to standard? That of content specialist only, aided by tutored language/writing support for the L2 author? Should writers first obtain their supervisor’s consent for editorial intervention at a specified level?
  • What does the L1 editor/proofreader do when the writer’s supervisor has fallen short in guiding and correcting them regarding their content/argumentation/structure and the editor/proofreader detects flaws in these text facets?
  • May the L1 editor/proofreader play a mentoring role towards the writer?
  • Regarding plagiarism checking and peer review, what should the editor/proofreader’s role be?
  • Reference checking: what precisely should the L1 editor/proofreader’s remit be?
These perennially important and relevant issues remain unresolved in many quarters. This panel will therefore be of great interest to editors/proofreaders who are challenged by the increasing number of academic texts penned by English L2 authors. 
All four panellists are seasoned author’s editors who regularly engage with scholarly texts. They represent current practice in different disciplines – the exact sciences, the humanities and law – and operate in varied academic contexts in Europe. To stimulate audience participation, in their individual presentations they will each highlight a different approach to editorial intervention: the opposite extremes of minimalist proofreading and substantive engagement, and a “middle” path in which the author’s editor, as mentor, partly assumes the supervisor’s role. They will also raise the matter of whether editors/proofreaders should be permitted to impose L1 norms on L2 texts (and if so, to what extent).
The learning outcomes will be: a reassessment/recalibration of individual approaches to editing/proofreading in this genre and greater awareness of the parameters and concerns that are useful points of reflection and debate. Moreover, the panel will demonstrate that these issues cannot be definitively decided upon or regulated, but always depend on the interplay of context-specific factors.

About the presenters: 

Dr Joy Burrough-Boenisch: Experienced editor of the non-native English of scientists and academics in the Netherlands; teaches informally by editing didactically, formally by teaching PhD and MSc scientists to write scientific English; developer and presenter of workshops for translators and editors on editing non-native English.

Michael Friedman: US-born lawyer who practised for 10 years as attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area; since relocating to Germany, has been employed at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private Law in Hamburg, Germany, as in-house academic editor and translator; served as primary language editor of multi-author, 2,000-page Encyclopedia of European Private Law.

John Linnegar: Antwerp-based teacher of academic writing to PhD students, academic editor/proofreader for 30+ years, trainer of “Editing and Proofreading for Academic Purposes”.

Dr David Owen: Lecturer in English Literature and Translator, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB); Coordinator of Academic Translation in the Language Advisory and Translation Unit at the UAB's Language Service.