Readiness tests for IMRaD articles: ways to screen manuscripts for completeness before starting to translate or edit

Mary Ellen Kerans (Spain)

Articles that follow a predictable pattern such as IMRaD (introduction, methods, results and discussion) can be fairly quickly checked for completeness and even quality of writing in certain sections. Screening authors’ drafts in this way and setting authoring tasks before we begin to translate or edit has the immediate advantage of bringing us new drafts that are closer to being ready for readers. The screening approach I will describe is based on my knowledge and experience of the journal review process but also on modern reporting guidelines and instructions to authors — information available to all of us. The authoring tasks I suggest are based on what I find when screening, on what is known about writing process, and on attitudes the author expresses in a conversation about how the writing process has gone so far. This approach has its roots in my background in English language teaching—especially the teaching of writing—but it is also a practical response to the “feast or famine” work flow situation that freelance translators and editors describe. I manage work flow by helping authors put their time to good use if I must make them wait or if I find a manuscript is still too rough to be worked on. The strategy reflects my assumption that my work is embedded in their writing process. It seems to have practical “face value” for clients because it is responsive to the requirements of a particular manuscript. It also makes educational sense to me because it is adapted to an author’s level of experience and working preferences.
Mary Ellen Kerans is a freelance authors’ editor and translator who works mainly in the biomedical sciences. Her career has included publishing work and English language teaching, especially the teaching of academic writing at various levels and English for specific purposes. A unifying thread in her approach to working with authors or teaching — whether in traditional settings like universities or in factories —is finding a process-oriented way to help learners achieve goals