KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, July 11, 2011

Building Lasting Relationships with Authors Who Are Nonnative English Speakers

There is now a huge and lucrative market for medical copyeditors like me who can polish the language of researchers who are nonnative English speakers and who must get their reports published in US and UK English-language peer-reviewed journals.

It takes constant work to build up and maintain a clientele in that arena. But it's worth doing, and not just for the income that we editors can earn but also for the sake of getting important research findings out there that might not become widely known without our assistance. I share my techniques for doing so in "Building Good Relationships with ESL Authors," my article in the April–June 2011 issue [2011;34(2):57–58] of Science Editor, the journal of the Council of Science Editors, of which I am a member.

After you've read my article, please come back to the comments section of this post and share additional techniques for working with ESL authors. Let's work together to further international cooperation in the science community.



Juliette said...

Great article! I was relieved to see I was doing almost everything you suggested! =)

My clients are primarily German-speaking and I have to say that being able to speak German myself has been hugely beneficial. I realize speaking a client's language isn't always possible, but it's definitely enhanced my ability to figure out what an author is trying to say on more than one occasion. It's also been helpful when departments or organizations have wanted me to sign a German-language work contract for a specific period or project. In that vein, I couldn't agree more with your point about making the effort to get your instructions to authors written in their language. This is something I haven't yet felt the need for since I speak German, but perhaps I should reconsider this myself.

I also think your points on communicating simply and clearly are critical. I'm reading Robert McCrum's 'Globish: How English Became the World's Language' and at one point in his prologue he shares a story about how he witnessed a Spanish UN peacekeeper and an Indian soldier communicate quickly and efficiently using a highly simplified form of English (i.e., "Globish"). I think being in the business of editing (and likely being avid readers on our own time) can make it easy to forget the need to simplify the language of our business.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thanks, Juliette.

Although my ESL authors are spread across the world, the bulk of them are from Asia. I can't count the number of times I've wished that I could quickly learn to speak and write Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. I have to admire my authors simply because of their persistence in jumping through multiple hoops to get their articles published.

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