METM16 keynote talk

Editing and translating, ethics and education in academic publishing: What is needed to enhance mutual understanding of intersecting roles, responsibilities and practices? 

Margaret Cargill, Adelaide, Australia  

Language professionals providing substantive editing assistance to authors – or drafting translations of still developing manuscripts while counselling authors about content organization – may be acting unethically or even illegally in some jurisdictions. A recent paper from Australia identifies substantive editing of postgraduate theses and dissertations as collusion and thus plagiarism and recommends that universities address its frequent occurrence by banning all editing of theses by external agents (Lines, 2016). And the wording of a recent edict issued by the bodies overseeing China’s scientific publishing output implies that language professionals providing substantive editing assistance to authors may be acting illegally in that jurisdiction. George Lundberg, MD – former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and founder of the website Medscape – remarked that such events could be seen as instances of a “well-intentioned but only partially informed pendulum” of external regulation swinging too far (pers. comm. George D Lundberg MD, WAME listserve, April 2016). This keynote talk will focus on how we present ourselves and frame our work to “only partially informed” stakeholders in academic authors’ editing and associated training activities, and raise for discussion potential steps for improving information flow and uptake. I will report findings of an interview study on how senior Chinese scientists understand the intentions and implications of the edict mentioned above. I will also review and evaluate, from my own perspective as a trainer, work done to identify and describe levels of editing in ways that enhance the possibility of transparency in conversations between stakeholders with different roles, responsibilities and expertise sets. 
Lines, L. (2016). Substantive editing as a form of plagiarism among postgraduate students in Australia. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(3), 368-383. doi: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1013919

Dr Margaret Cargill is an applied linguist specialising in the development of research writing skills for scientists who use English either as a first or an additional language. She has 25 years' experience working intensively with early career researchers and their supervisors. She holds an Adjunct Senior Lectureship in the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and heads the consultancy business SciWriting: Communicating science effectively in English. She is co-author, with Dr Patrick O'Connor, of Writing scientific research articles: Strategy and steps (Wiley-Blackwell 2009, 2013,