Editing for clients in academia: a panel discussion

Editing for clients in academia: a panel discussion

That the editing of texts written by students and academic faculty is a topic of great interest to SENSE members became clear from the record number of 73 SENSE members who attended the society’s meeting in February 2014. Then, two speakers from Essex University explained the background to Essex University’s policy and guidelines on the editing of student texts and presented findings of their research on their university’s “proofreaders” (the people who do this editing).  Now, this one-hour session will focus on the situation in the Netherlands. The panellists will be the SENSE members who proposed setting up SENSE’s special interest group UniSIG for editors working for clients in academia: Camilla Brokking, Jackie Senior, Curtis Barrett and Joy Burrough-Boenisch (chair). Each panellist will give a short presentation, after which there will be a discussion, with opportunity for questions and comments from the audience.  Camilla, whose academic clients are primarily from Australian universities, will speak on the ethics of editing student texts. Jackie will speak from the perspective of an in-house editor in a top university department with a large group of international researchers. Curtis, who combines freelance editing for PhD candidates and faculty with teaching scientific English at several Dutch universities, will speak on university departments’ funding for editorial services. Joy, who also freelances for Dutch PhD candidates and faculty and teaches scientific English, will highlight features of SENSE’s guidelines for thesis editing.

About the facilitators

Camilla Brokking has been editing for academic clients for 17 years, in fields including business law, humanities, civil engineering and life sciences. She has a degree in biological sciences and an MA in American Studies. The majority of her clients come from Australian universities, and include students from South-East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. She is mindful of the interplay between producing simple, clear English, retaining the author’s voice, and maintaining ethical boundaries in editing student writing. In 2013 she proposed that SENSE establish guidelines for editing student theses and helped set up the working group that developed these guidelines. 

Jackie Senior is a founder and honorary member of SENSE and has served twice on its executive committee. She works as an editor and webmaster for an ambitious research department (Dept. of Genetics, University of Groningen/UMCG). Nowadays she works mostly on biomedical texts but she started as a geologist (in the oil and gas boom), worked in investment banking (during the internet bubble), and moved to the genetics group in the 1990s (human genome era). She has been editing and translating for over 40 years but, with the Dutch retirement age becoming a moveable feast, is exploring options for later

Curtis Barrett received his PhD in neuroscience in 2001. After a distinguished career as an academic researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Stanford University, and Leiden University Medical Center, Curtis changed gears and became a full-time language consultant for scientists and clinical researchers. Curtis has edited hundreds of manuscripts, dissertations, and grant proposals for academic clients. In addition, Curtis teaches academic and scientific writing and presenting to Master’s and doctoral students at universities throughout Europe, and he is regularly invited to speak at student-organised events. Curtis is the owner of English Editing Solutions and the current Programme Secretary for SENSE.

Joy Burrough-Boenisch is a founder and honorary member of SENSE, who edits for Dutch scientists and academics, specialising in environmental and earth science. She has two degrees in geography and a doctorate in applied linguistics. Her thesis was on Dutch scientific English. She also teaches academic and scientific English and trains language professionals in the Netherlands and abroad (including at the European Commission) via workshops and webinars. Her publications include chapters in the EASE Science Editors’ Handbook and in Supporting Research Writing: Roles and challenges in multilingual setting (ed. Valerie Matarese) and her book Righting English that’s gone Dutch.