METM22 presentation

“Owners” of the final draft: the role of dialogue in helping authors claim their text

Luigi Russi, Turin, Italy

This session aims to open up a space to recognise editors’ and translators’ roles in helping authors “own” their texts, in the sense that authorship implies a degree of conscious awareness of the choices that go into the final draft of a text, which dissipates whenever an author begins simply to “accept all changes”. 

Any process of rewriting – whether translation into another language or same-language editing – is an occasion in which an author is invited to make conscious choices about his/her text. At the same time, the very process of rewriting also entails the risk of relinquishing authorship by complying without much reflection with whatever an editor or translator suggests. This tension is one that the presenter has often encountered, both as a copy editor and as a managing editor of scholarly publications. Based on this experience, the session tries to highlight the importance of dialogue between the author and the editor or translator, specifically for the purpose of inviting the author to claim the final draft as his/her own.

At the start of the session, the presenter will introduce anecdotes from personal practice to illustrate how loss of authorship begins to materialise in the process of rewriting, and how it can be brought to authors’ attention. Participants are also invited to think in advance of any conversations – both fruitful and less so – in which they felt they had to invite an author to “take charge” of the final product of editing and/or translation. In the spirit of MET collegiality, the second part of the session will offer a space for thinking together about some such conversations.

This session is adapted from research undertaken by the presenter (together with Prof. Özüm Üçok-Sayrak of the Communication and Rhetorical Studies Department at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh) as a recipient of a MET Small Grant for Research in 2021.
[Read a member’s review of the presentation.]

About the presenter

Luigi Russi works as an editor of scholarly legal publications on a part-time basis. He spends the rest of his time co-convening a community of researchers embedded in a wide range of professional contexts, called “Research-in-action community”.