Advice from Scholarly Journals

In the article “Editors in the global academic community” (21st Century Text, Volume 3), Uzuner’s (2008) synthesis from 39 empirical studies on multilingual writers was presented. Following are short editor-oriented summaries of articles from assorted academic journals. (Some of these were included in Uzuner’s synthesis. They are marked with an asterisk.)

A number of important issues are raised in these articles. One is the expertise of editors. These may be language professionals, subject matter professionals, or native English speakers. It is interesting to note that when speaking about the expertise of editors, the category of editors who have had professional training in text preparation is not mentioned. The expertise of editors is also reflected in the various job titles used in these articles in addition to “editor”: literacy experts, academic literacy facilitators, convenience editors, proofreaders and so on. Closely connected to the issue of the expertise of editors is the level and type of intervention in the text and the ethics of such intervention. Knowledge of the submission and review processes of academic journals is also raised. Finally, the idea of widening the conventions for language and rhetorical standards beyond those of the US and the UK is discussed.

Belcher, D. (2007). Seeking acceptance in an English-only research world.”  Journal of Second Language Writing, 16, 1-22.

This author introduces “political” aspects of scholarly communication and suggests that the conventions and standards of academic journals should be re-examined and revised if necessary. “If contributions from around the world are sought and a truly global audience the goal of ‘international’ journals, then should center-based conventions continue to be the unquestioned norm?” (p19). She also believes that “novice professionals should be taught to question the profession’s practices, how its usual genres and text types socialize members and how ‘the textual politics of … display’ affect written knowledge” (p.19).

Annotated by Ted Rose

 Burrough-Boenisch, J. (2003). Shapers of Published NNS Research Articles. Journal of Second Language Writing 1, 223-243.

An editor should be sufficiently familiar with the genre of scientific research articles and the conventions related to the presentation of research findings in English in order to identify and correct shortcomings in the text. When an editor must devote excessive time to correcting linguistic errors, he will often devote insufficient time to higher-order problems of text organization or appropriateness of genre.

Annotated by Debra Gerber

Godsen, H. (2003). ‘Why not give us the full story?’: Functions of referees’ comments in peer reviews of scientific research papers. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 2, 87-101.

This research article is a contribution to the relatively new field of journalology, the study of how journals operate. The author has noted that beyond what is published in journals, significant behind-the- scenes content, especially written communication between reviewers and authors, is concealed from the reader. Novice researchers are often mystified by the process and by the need to decipher the reviewers’ feed-back, especially calls for revision.  Often this process is problematic, there typically being no standard review format or reviewers not complying with them. Some reviews are ambiguous and are difficult for the author to translate into appropriate revisions.

Annotated by Benny A. Benjamin

Harwood, N., Austin, L., Macaulay, R. (2009). Proofreading in a UK university: Proofreaders’ beliefs, practices, and experiences. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18, 166-190. doi: 10.1016/j.jslw.2009.05.002

This article raises the important issue of levels of text intervention. In this study, there was a considerable variation in the responses as to which types of texts people felt comfortable proofreading.  While some felt that prior knowledge of the subject matter was very important, others felt that it was actually advantageous to work on material they were unfamiliar with, as this eliminated the possibility of unethical content intervention.  The most important aspect of this article dealt with proofreaders’ opinions on appropriate levels of intervention in a text.  Many felt that there were areas of intervention that were ethically inappropriate.  Another feeling was that there were areas which were outside the proofreader’s scope and thus should not be touched (e.g, the writer’s argumentation).  The interviewees often pointed to the problem that there is a severe lack of guidance available regarding these issues.

Annotated by Estherlee Kanon

Huang, J. C. (2010). Publishing and learning writing for publication in English: Perspectives of NNES PhD students in science. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 9, 33-44.

Huang’s purpose in this study was to provide a general framework for current learning and publishing practices of novice nonnative English scholars (NNES) in Taiwan. Some conclusions that might be interesting: Most students felt they were disadvantaged compared to their NES counterparts when writing in English from their awareness of their nonnative speaker status and from comments of reviewers. Many students felt that good English writing skills were as significant as the science and experimental studies.

NNES need for help in interpreting and responding to journal reviewer’s comments and correspondence. This article reinforces the information concerning journalology raised by Gosden (2003).

Annotated by Judy Greenbaum

Lillis, T., Magyar, A., Robinson-Pant, A. (2010). An international journal’s attempts to address inequalities in academic publishing. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 40 (6), 781-800. doi:10.1080/03057925.2010.523250

Concerned with the inequalities facing non-native speakers in the English-dominant world of academic publishing, the editors and staff of the journal Compare: A Journal of Contemporary Education established a mentoring program for writers. Beginning with a one-day workshop, the four-month program used authentic materials “to help writers with shaping the form and content of the paper to help align it with the practices and goals of the journal”(p.3), rather than focusing solely on language remediation. From the results, editors can discover the necessity to guide their authors by having them answer the following questions: What is the journal’s mission? Does the article meet this need? Does the article offer something new? Is the article’s style acceptable in terms of the journal’s standards? The guidelines for academic mentors given in the appendix call for examination of the draft first from the writer’s perspective: that is, clarifying what the writer is trying to say and how this will fit in with the journal’s mission. The next task is to approach the draft from the perspective of the target audience. This study sees the editor’s role as proactive rather than just reactive; however, it depends on an editor having professional knowledge of subject matter and familiarity with the particular journal involved.

Annotated by Laurie Eilat

Lillis, T., & Curry, M.J.  (2006) Professional Academic Writing by Multilingual Scholars: Interactions With Literacy Brokers in the Production of English-Medium Texts. Written Communication, 23 (1), 3-35. doi: 10.1177/0741088305283754

Evidence is presented from three case studies in examining how influential the role of the “literacy broker” is in ensuring that the multilingual author is published in prestigious international English language journals. Although multilingual authors in the research claim that the “literacy brokers” are most influential in terms of language intervention, the evidence suggests that content interventions are the more important factors in ensuring that an article is published.  These content interventions include: restructuring of an article’s content and emphasis, improving the presentation of findings, ensuring the demonstration of contrast and comparison between local and international research, and guaranteeing the adherence to the journal’s conventions and style requirements.

For the global editor this article demonstrates that editing it is not purely a matter of grammar and syntax issues. It also identifies that the global editor’s involvement and intervention can affect the article at both the pre-submission or post-submission stages.

Annotated by Carolyn Budlow Ben-David

Li, Y., Flowerdew, J. (2007), Shaping Chinese novice scientists’ manuscripts for publication. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16, 100–117, doi:10.1016/j.jslw.2007.05.001.

This article raises the issue mentioned previously by Lillis & Curry (2006)  and Harwood, Austin, & Macaulay (2009). of the kinds of “literacy brokers” who intervene in the production of a text. Here two kinds of pre-publication reviewers are recommended for scientific or technical material or for academic material in general, each having a particular skill set.  One is an English Language Professional (ELP), preferably a Native English Speaker (NES).  The other is a peer or supervisor having knowledge of the field.

Annotated by Dror Shannon

Sasaki, Miyuki. (2001). An Introspective Account of L2 Writing Acquisition. In Diane Belcher and Ulla Connor (Eds.), Reflections on Multiliterate Lives (pp. 110-120). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

In this introspective piece, Sasaki presents her basic approach to English writing, which could be useful to an editor as well. She suggests rewriting papers many times. She recommends writing down ideas as they come, subsequently putting each idea on a card, and then spreading them out on the floor and organizing them repeatedly until they form several meaningful groups. The writer/editor can then decide in which sequential order these groups should appear in the paper. This is a useful solution for editors when working with badly sequenced papers, especially now when “cut and paste” has become virtual and there is a tendency to work linearly on the computer. She also suggests reading many published papers to discern general patterns or rules.

Annotated by Michal Baharier

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