METM19 presentation

Insights from 30 years’ collaboration: an analytical memoir from an author and his manuscript editor

Mary Ellen Kerans and Jaume Canet, Barcelona, Spain 

Researchers in non-Anglophone settings sometimes establish decades-long relationships with a person or persons who provide support for many tasks related to publication. Aspects of the depth and breadth of support have been described in the peer-reviewed literature, informal personal accounts and books analysing or collecting accounts of support for researchers and other writers. However, changes in what authors may need as their careers progress have not been explored. Furthermore, the voice of authors has only occasionally been heard in the literature on these often occluded practices.

For about 30 years, Mary Ellen edited for Jaume, a successful researcher in clinical medicine and co-author of this paper. When we looked at key publications in Jaume’s career we saw three stages: 1) apprenticeship, when he was mentored both in Spain and abroad – thanks to an influential first publication; 2) positioning, when he kept up his research pace but also began to share insights into international publication practices with colleagues across Spain; and 3) leadership, when he directed complex projects, some of them international. We are currently focusing on Jaume’s work as the first (drafting and designing) author and how his use of support changed over time. The aim of this presentation is to describe the architecture of his publishing career and map onto it the different editorial or other support needed. 

Ours is a joint analytical memoir – supported by the public record as well as drafts, revisions, and journal/co-author correspondence – because we are convinced that our solitary reflections need the correction of the other’s. We expect additional research questions to emerge and hope to eventually describe key learning moments when our practices changed, suggesting principles and practices that can help authors and editors work effectively to meet a wide range of needs. 

About the presenters

Mary Ellen Kerans has taught EFL, ESP and writing in university and non-university settings since the 1970s. She has been an authors’ editor and translator since the late 1980s. Her MA (Teachers College Columbia University) is in TESOL.

Jaume Canet, MD, PhD, an anaesthesiologist who recently retired from a career in clinical practice and research, continues to write – on history, trekking and other topics related to his interests rather than his work in medicine.