MET workshops

Editing theses and dissertations written in English by non-native speakers

With English-medium teaching gaining ground in European universities and the rise in enrollments of overseas students in universities in anglophone countries, demand has grown for the language editing of theses and dissertations written by non-native speakers of English. As such texts are academically assessed, editors who take on such assignments should work particularly sensitively and ethically, trying not to distort the student’s academic ability. In this workshop we will explore some of the editorial challenges this raises and the possible approaches and resources available to the editor.

Facilitator: Joy Burrough-Boenisch

Purpose: To explore the problems and quandaries associated with the editing of non-native-English student texts, to clarify the editor’s responsibilities and role, and to acquire or consolidate techniques for this specialist type of editing.

Description/structure: Sample texts from the humanities and sciences will be used for exercises and to stimulate discussion. Techniques and resources will be illustrated via PowerPoint presentation. Existing guidelines on thesis and student editing will be briefly reviewed, together with the procedures for clarifying the editorial remit with the student and/or supervisor.

Who should attend? Language professionals (editors, translators) already editing theses and dissertations; language professionals contemplating doing such work; teachers and academics wishing to acquire insight into how assessed student texts could (and should) be professionally edited.

  • Insight into the issues and challenges of editing humanities and science theses and dissertations by non-native-English authors
  • Knowledge of suitable editing techniques and strategies
  • Awareness of guidelines and other resources for formalizing and carrying out the editing remit
  • Clarification of the editor’s and student’s responsibilities and of the ethical issues surrounding the editing of assessed student work

About the facilitator: Netherlands-based Joy Burrough-Boenisch is an authors’ editor and translator for Dutch academics and scientists who has taught scientific and academic English to PhD and master's students. Originally a geographer, she learnt to edit in Sabah (Malaysia) and Australia and has worked as an in-house and freelance copyeditor. Her interest in second-language interference and non-native English led her to help found SENSE (the Society of English-language professionals in the Netherlands) and to do a PhD in applied linguistics, on Dutch scientific English. She has various academic and professional publications to her name.