METM17 panel discussion

Writing up research: insiders' views on writing practices at research centers

Moderator: Valerie Matarese,Vidor, Italy
Editors and translators of research articles usually begin work on manuscripts that are advanced drafts, i.e. complete and approved by all the authors. Rarely do we experience the initial stages of writing, from article conception through the series of early drafts. Yet to best serve our clients, it would be useful to know more about how writing takes place in research settings. In this round-table session, former and current researchers will illuminate us about the writing process within their own research teams and at their universities. Because the discussants come from different academic fields and have worked in different language settings, the session will highlight differences in attitudes and approaches to scholarly writing.

Topics for discussion will include: Is English used solely for writing or also for daily activities? What are researchers' attitudes to the quality of the English writing? How are research articles conceived within research teams and drafted by multiple authors with differing language backgrounds? How is the writing process different in disciplines where articles tend to have a single author? What are supervisors' attitudes to young scholars' difficulties with writing and to the use of editing and translation services? What are researchers' experiences with authors' editors and copy editors? How do researchers find time to write amid other responsibilities?

The insight revealed by the discussants will help editors and translators appreciate the efforts that lead to the production of the manuscripts we work on. This knowledge should help us to better understand the writing flaws that we observe in manuscripts and enable us to provide more appropriate feedback on the writing. 

Valerie Matarese is an authors' editor specializing in the biomolecular sciences. Born in New York, she trained in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology at US universities and worked in research in the US and Italy prior to launching a sole proprietorship offering editing, writing and training services. Valerie served as editor of the multiauthor volume Supporting Research Writing: Roles and Challenges in Multilingual Settings (Chandos Elsevier 2013), based on a panel discussion from METM09. Her latest book is Editing Research: The Author Editing Approach to Providing Effective Support to Writers of Research Papers (Information Today 2016).

Susan Frekko is an independent writing and research support specialist based in Barcelona. She provides author editing and translation services – mainly to academic authors – and offers training in scientific writing. Susan holds a PhD in linguistic anthropology from the University of Michigan and has published her research in indexed journals since 2009. She held faculty positions at Wayne State University (Detroit) and Goucher College (Baltimore) before moving to Barcelona in 2013.

Maighread Gallagher-Gambarelli completed her PhD in immunology in France and subsequently worked and published in research in the UK and France for a number of years. In 2009, she abandoned the lab bench to set up as a freelance translator and editor specializing in research papers. She has since helped with the publication of over 250 articles in a range of scientific fields.

Ketevan Glonti is a research fellow pursuing her PhD within the Methods in Research on Research (MiRoR) project, an innovative doctoral training program in the field of clinical research funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. Prior to this she trained in public health in Germany and the Netherlands and worked in the UK on a number of European-funded research projects. Her PhD focuses on peer-review content and the communication process in biomedical journals.