METM11 panel     Threads: Research and promising practices

Establishing a dialogue between research and practice: a look at the potential benefits

Iain Patten, coordinator -” Valencia, Spain

One of the objectives of Mediterranean Editors and Translators (MET), as set out in its charter, is the stimulation of research. The goal of this research is tightly defined-”to determine the needs of those who make use of language support services in the Mediterranean region and to identify those practices that are best placed to serve them. Achieving these goals might benefit many MET members by helping us to access those who require our services and by providing an opportunity to use research findings to improve the quality of our professional activities. MET members are more than potential consumers of such research, though-”we are ourselves a valuable resource. Through dialogue with practitioners, researchers can assess the relevance of their work to real-world situations, for instance, and even enter into collaborations with language-service providers to answer key questions about the role and effectiveness of language support. This panel will discuss the potential benefits of increased interaction between researchers and practitioners from three main perspectives-”that of the practitioner who has a research question, that of the researcher who wants to investigate practice, and that of the practitioner who would like to inform her work with research findings. By providing ample time for discussion among delegates and panel members, it is hoped that the panel will act as a stimulus for ongoing dialogue among MET members about how they can use-”and contribute to-”research on language support.


Iain Patten (coordinator) is an independent medical writing and translation consultant based in Valencia, Spain. He trained as a biomedical scientist in the UK and undertook research in neuroscience and embryology before shifting his attention to scientific communication. He worked for a number of years in Spain as an editor and translator of biomedical science and later in the UK in the medical communications industry. He currently offers an integrated writing support service for scientists and clinicians, with services ranging from scientific consultancy, through translation and editing, to medical and scientific writing.

Valerie Matarese is an independent biomedical editor and editorial consultant based in Italy. A former biomedical scientist with research experience in both university and industry settings in the US and in Italy, she launched an independent activity in 1997 offering editing, writing and information research. She has served publishers, university researchers and companies with services such as journal copyediting, author editing, medical writing combined with information research, and scientific-editorial support throughout the research writing process.

Mary Ellen Kerans is a freelance author's editor and translator who has only occasionally done research or written systematically about her own practice. She nonetheless credits a line of research done most intensively in the late 1970s and the 1980s for unpinning the way she works on texts with authors from such wide-ranging disciplines as medicine, history, philosophy, social work, chemistry and pharmacology. The -œwriting process- literature, which managed to paint a picture of fairly generalizable promising writing practices in contrast with unpromising ones, through a combination of ethnographic studies of authors' own practices and observers' analysis gave strong hints about how to talk helpfully to authors who might be either novices (but highly educated in a field) or seniors (but requiring support to achieve a more demanding publication level). This literature gives a writing consultant confidence in deciding when to intervene in texts and when to hold back.

Theresa Lillis is a senior lecturer in language and education in the Centre for Language and Communication, The Open University, UK. Her research interests are in academic and professional writing, particularly in relation to the politics of access, location and participation. Methodologically, she is interested in developing ethnographic and collaborative research methodologies and in exploring ways in which research can be both informed by users' interests and be used to inform users' practices. She recently co-authored an article outlining a writing mentoring programme developed in conjunction with an international education journal (Lillis, Magyar & Robinson-Pant, 2010). She has authored (Lillis, 2001) and co-authored (Lillis & Curry, 2010) books on writing and published articles in Language and Education, TESOL Quarterly, Written Communication, Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, Journal of English for Academic Purposes and English for Specific Purposes.

  • Lillis, T., Magyar, A. and Robinson-Pant, A. (2010). An international journal's attempts to address inequalities in academic publishing: developing a writing for publication programme. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 40, 6: 781-800.
  • Lillis, T. (2001). Student writing. Access, regulation and desire. London: Routledge.
  • Lillis, T., Curry, M.J. (2010). Academic writing in a global context. London: Routledge.