Sunday, 10 June



Joy Burrough, Editing English-language doctoral theses in the Netherlands: Are the SENSE Guidelines useful?


Now that most Master’s and PhD candidates in the Netherlands write their thesis or dissertation in English, there is much demand for these texts to be corrected. The many suppliers responding to this demand range from ‘convenience editors’, through online agencies, to experienced professional editors. What they amend and how they do so vary. Can SENSE’s Guidelines for Proofreading Student Texts clarify what thesis editing entails and reduce the variation in the nature and manner of language professionals’ interventions in such texts? I will address this question, considering doctoral (i.e. PhD-equivalent) theses only.

First, I will explain why variation in editorial interventions is unavoidable, pointing out that it depends partly on the parameters of the assignment and partly on the language professional’s personal skills, knowledge, background, circumstances, and attitude towards the ethics of editing theses. Expanding on the issue of ethics, I will argue that although concern about the ethics of editing student work drove the creation of SENSE’s Guidelines for Proofreading Student Texts, in the Netherlands this concern is not as important as it is in countries such as the UK and Australia. I will suggest reasons for this. I will then explain why the Guidelines specifically exclude the Dutch-style article-based doctoral theses that predominate in the sciences.

After discussing the editorial and ethical challenges these compilation theses raise, I will suggest how articles destined for journal publication and thesis inclusion should be edited and how ethical predicaments might be resolved. Aspects of the SENSE Guidelines turn out to be useful for this, after all.

Although the presentation focuses on doctoral theses – specifically, compilation theses – the issues addressed are relevant to all aspiring and practising editors working for clients in academia and science, and to language professionals interested in the ethics of editing.


About the presenter

Joy BurroughBased in the Netherlands but having edited and researched in various countries, Joy Burrough-Boenisch edits and translates for Dutch academics and scientists, teaches scientific and academic English, and gives workshops for translators and editors. She is a founder and honorary member of SENSE. She has two degrees in geography and a doctorate (on Dutch-scientific English). Her academic and professional publications include Righting English that’s gone Dutch (Kemper Conseil, 2013) and contributions to the book Supporting Research Writing: Roles and challenges in multilingual settings, (Chandos, 2013), edited by Valerie Matarese.