Writers of academic research articles are often called on to draw comparisons of many types. As these comparisons vary greatly in length and complexity, the task can pose considerable difficulties. Reference works such as Swan (2005) or the online Manchester Academic Phrasebank (2006) contain sample comparison sentences, but their advice is confined to the most basic situations. Very little support is available for more complicated comparisons, such as a description of how multiple variables are interrelated in a between-subjects research design. Another major challenge occurs in the discussion section when the author’s own results must be compared with those presented in other research articles. As pointed out by Wallwork (2011), when this is not done well, the reader can find it difficult to tell which paper an author is referring to.
During this presentation, I will illustrate these issues with examples of comparison writing taken largely from my own teaching practice. Attendees will be invited to share their thoughts on how to make these passages clearer and more concise. I will conclude with a number of guidelines for improving the quality of comparison writing in research articles. This talk should be of interest to teachers, editors and translators working with non-native authors of scientific articles.
David Barick studied musicology and English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has been based for many years in the Netherlands. He works as a language teacher, Dutch–English translator and editor specialising in scientific English. At the Language Centre of VU University Amsterdam, he regularly gives classes to students at master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral levels in article writing, research proposal writing and presentation skills. He has been a member of SENSE since 2012 and is the convener of SENSE’s special interest group for educators.
By putting in place a set of terms and conditions, language professionals can add an essential skill to their toolkit. Most of us don't come from a business background, but linguistic skills alone are not enough in today's challenging marketplace.
With this in mind, during my workshop we’ll explore how to approach and resolve the current imbalance in the marketplace, where, typically, the client's terms and conditions have always dominated.
The workshop will focus on the art of negotiating terms and conditions – the do's and the don'ts – how to negotiate to our best advantage, to give something but also to get something in return.
The session will teach freelancers how to build a set of terms either from scratch or by adapting those of our professional organisations which freelancers can use over and over again and adapt as necessary to all sorts of jobs.
The workshop will be as interactive as possible, with participants bringing their own experience and queries to our session.
Sue Leschen is a lawyer-linguist based in Manchester, the United Kingdom, and is the director of niche market company, Avocate – Legal and Commercial French Services. She sits on CIOL’s Council and also on CIOL’s Interpreting Division Committee and Equality and Diversity Committee. She regularly presents both face to face and by webinar on legal terminology and professional interest issues. She is also a mentor and business guru for new and existing freelancers, and actively supports the use of properly qualified, insured and security-vetted language professionals.
Museum translations are not just a fascinating sub-genre in the translation market; they are also very public translations that are on view in high-profile locations. Some of them are very good, but others come with prominent quality issues. These may well be the result of budget problems (perhaps prompting museums to use low-cost agencies or DIY solutions) or simply of translators taking a far too mechanical approach to their work. In other words, poor translation may be the result of a poor translator, of a translator not being sufficiently aware of the needs of the target audience, of what might be termed ‘translator’s privilege’, or simply of overly mechanical (that is, unthinking) translation.
But what does the target audience – museum visitors themselves – think about the quality of the translations with which they are presented? A mini-research project that involved observing and talking to visitors at two Dutch museums generated a number of fascinating findings that will be presented during this talk. A subsequent discussion with a museum educator produced a conclusion that serves as a neat pointer for translators wondering how they can win the battle with translation machines.
Tony Parr is a professional business translator (from Dutch and also French to English), language editor and translator trainer. After graduating in Dutch and French at Cambridge University, he gained extensive experience as both a freelance and a staff translator and as a teacher of translation, principally at the Dutch National College of Translation in Maastricht. Tony is the co-author of Handboek voor de Vertaler Nederlands–Engels, first published in 1995 and now available from Intertaal. Operating under the name of Teamwork, he and Marcel Lemmens have organized workshops and conferences for language professionals in the Netherlands since 1993.
This interactive introductory workshop aims to support language professionals working with biomedical researchers to use and recommend reporting guidelines for manuscript preparation.
Reporting guidelines aid research article preparation by providing the minimum information needed for a particular study type. Many journals, particularly in biomedical research, require reporting guideline use and the submission of a completed checklist alongside a manuscript. However,researchers are often unsure how to find and apply the right reporting guideline. Writers, editors, and translators can help to ensure the research articles they work on are compliant.
The workshop will combine short presentations, discussion, and practical exercises, and will be accompanied by a handout. We will focus on reporting guidelines for research involving humans or animals, such as health research, psychology, and veterinary medicine.
After training in laboratory research and working in academic editing, Jennifer de Beyer joined the EQUATOR Network’s UK Centre at the Centre for Statistics in Medicine (CSM), University of Oxford. Here she develops online and in-person training in academic writing and using reporting guidelines for clear, transparent research reporting. She also provides editing and writing support for CSM’s team of medical statisticians and methodologists.
The EQUATOR Network is an international initiative dedicated to improving the quality and transparency of health research. It focuses on research reporting, so that future research is based on a sound body of evidence. Through its four centres in the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia, EQUATOR raises awareness of reporting guidelines, provides online resources, develops education and training, and conducts research into research quality and transparency.
Young researchers often lack writing skills. Their supervisors or professors tell them ‘you learn by doing’ and this results in their struggling alone. They would profit from a course on scientific writing.
Attendees will come away with a basic lesson plan and guidance on how to approach teaching researchers/PhD students to write a clear and well-structured article or thesis. We will discuss how to write a catchy title, a well-structured and clear abstract and a convincing conclusion. I have chosen these elements because I hear that most scientists first read these sections of the article before deciding whether to read the rest. If required, we could also talk about the introduction and discussion sections.
This will be an interactive workshop. Attendees will be able to ask questions and I shall share with them my years of experience, my mistakes, the scientists' problems I have tried to solve. Their professors are very often too busy or away travelling so they come to me. Some researchers, from non-European cultures, do not dare ask their professors for advice for fear of losing face; they come to me for advice instead. I do not solve all their problems but at least they have a listening ear.
For more than 30 years Ann Bless has been running courses on scientific writing and giving workshops at various universities in Europe. She has written a book, Reader friendly scientific articles. Be clear, be readable and has co-authored with Lee Ann Weeks The elements of English editing. A guideline to clear writing.
Photo by Michael Hartwigsen
There is no shortage of conference accommodation in the Netherlands, so choosing one just requires a map of the country and a pin, right? Wrong, especially if it’s for the SENSE biennial conference…
Two years ago, I was asked to recommend a location for the 2018 conference. It was quite a challenge, but eventually the decision went in favour of ’s-Hertogenbosch – not because it was a city nobody could spell, but because it offered the right combination of facilities that discerning SENSE members expected.
So what is the ideal location for our conference? In short, there isn’t one, as everyone has his or her preferences. Some of us want a city location with good public transport connections, others want a monastery in the middle of nowhere with free parking, no distractions, and waking up to bird song. As we are becoming a more international event, simply choosing a place that is accessible by train, bus or bike is not enough.
Starting last January (yes, January 2019!), I longlisted almost fifty locations that, in my experience with other conferences, would be suitable. These included several locations suggested by other SENSE members. I shortlisted this to twelve. Of those twelve, five did not have availability, offered a ridiculously high rate or simply failed to respond. Finally it came down to a straight contest: Rotterdam or Maastricht. My personal recommendation was for Maastricht, partly because they had come in second place in 2018, and were very, very keen to have us this time.
During the summer, several of the conference committee members visited the location, viewed the facilities and spoke to the staff. In the end, Maastricht won, but as a consolation prize Rotterdam got the Eurovision Song Contest!
Price is not the only issue, though of course this is a major consideration. Flexibility is most important. I had to explain to all the potential locations that if I was organizing a conference for a major national/international/multinational company, I could tell them immediately how much accommodation we would need, safe in the knowledge that the organizers would pick up the tab. It’s quite unusual for conference locations to understand that we are all freelancers, we pay our own expenses, and because the event is not during ‘office time’ (in other words, in our own time), SENSE cannot guarantee attendance numbers a year in advance.
Another important consideration was that the location should not charge more for two half days than they would for one full day. That’s a bit of a cheek, as it’s unlikely that they would be able to sell the conference facilities on the Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, so in true Dutch tradition, it’s a case of ‘twee halen, één betalen’!* My shortlist was limited to locations that were prepared to meet us on this point, and most of them were.
I hope I have found the right location for the 2020 conference. If I have, you may congratulate me in June; if not, it’s the committee’s fault! The planning of the speakers, the programme, the workshops and the other activities is going ahead at full steam. My job is complete, but I’m already looking discretely at locations for 2022 – just in case the committee asks me again!
This is where we well be holding the pre-conference workshops and the conference itself: at the four star Amrâth Grand Hotel de l'Empereur in Maastricht. Conference delegates will be able to book a room at the special conference rate once registration for the conference itself opens.
For more information about the conference hotel, see the hotel's website.
Check this page for full details of the conference, location and programme!
© Image by Maastricht Marketing/Jonathan Vos. All rights reserved.
* for non-Dutch speakers, this is the equivalent of ‘Buy one, get one free’.
Have you ever wondered whether your tablet could be used for professional purposes, rather than just for reading, online shopping, or watching movies? Join an experienced conference interpreter and technology trainer and find out how your iPad can help you get things done faster and better – from reading, writing and reviewing documents to managing projects or knocking tasks off your to-do list while on the go.
We’ll start by discussing how language professionals can set up their devices for multilingual use and how it works seamlessly with your existing hardware. Next, we’ll discuss research and writing – from outlining and mind-mapping to finding the information or turn-of-phrase you’re looking for to writing whenever you want, wherever you are.
After that, participants will tackle collaborative writing and editing on a tablet. You’ll learn how to draft and review text with faraway colleagues, wrangle “track changes” in Microsoft Word or Apple Pages, and up your proofreading game by using audio or a stylus.
Finally, we’ll explore tips and apps that will help you to run your business from your tablet, including to-do lists, reminders, invoicing, and more. We’ll also check out some helpful accessories that are the perfect companion for your tablet.
At the end of this workshop, you’ll feel much more confident using your tablet and be inspired to make the most of it for your work.
* This workshop focuses on iPads, but can be adapted to accommodate both iPad and Android tablet users.
Alexander Drechsel is a senior European Union staff interpreter, working from English, French and Romanian into his native German. He has also translated several non-fiction books, he blogs on interpreting and technology, and produces two podcasts (The Troublesome Terps and LangFM). Alexander is an experienced technology trainer with many online and offline workshops under his belt, and has given several talks and presentations on technology topics at industry conferences (including ITI, CIOL, BDÜ, ATA, AIIC, and eCPD Webinars). His workshops are insightful, fun and friendly; and they focus on the participants, their skills and expectations.
* MET, NEaT, SfEP, APTRAD, EASE
** If you are unable to attend an event, you may arrange for someone to take your place.
The SENSE 2020 Online Conference features an engaging schedule of presentations and short talks aimed at English-language professionals.
The conference will open on Zoom just after lunch on Wednesday 3 June with a welcome. Then, a series of sessions presented by SENSE members and other language professionals from around the globe will fill the afternoon, interspersed with a networking break. The rest of the conference, taking place on the afternoons of Thursday 4 and Friday 5 June, will proceed in a similar way.
Naturally, the nuts and bolts of translation, editing and language will be a common strand running through the programme, but more diverse topics addressing current and developing trends, such as ‘near-peer’ learning, digital nomadism and networking, are also on the cards. There's also a session on Plain English and language interference, plus – for the first time – a panel bringing together experienced SENSE members and young language professionals from Maastricht University to discuss client acquisition.
Let’s not forget the more practical sides of our business either, with a panel presentation on maintaining productivity as a parent of young children on Friday afternoon.
What is more, Brian Mossop, author of the classic Editing and Revising for Translators, now in its fourth edition, will be joining us as a special guest speaker on Wednesday, marking the celebration of SENSE’s 30th anniversary as a society serving language practitioners in the Netherlands.
Translation slam: Cathy Scott and Peter Smethurst
How can you translate an advertising concept that doesn’t even exist in your own language? What should you do when confronted with an image that means less than zero to your target audience? Is it possible to get dry, technical messages across in clear and catchy English? Could – or should – you attempt to make a silk purse out of what is clearly a sow’s ear?
Join us at this Translation Slam to tackle some of the tricky issues facing translators who work in advertising, marketing and technical documentation, and feel free to contribute your own ingenious suggestions (or cheeky remarks).
About the presenters
Cathy Scott is a British copywriter who has been in the advertising business for almost as long as the Dulux dog.
After working on many consumer, B2B and healthcare accounts for London ad agencies, she went freelance before setting up shop in the Netherlands. She now operates as a copywriter, translator and editor – often on the same unsuspecting piece of text.
Cathy is a stickler for accuracy, which is why she recently attended a client’s conference in Disneyland Paris so that she could report on it from a position of knowledge. As Welfare Officer of the Dutch branch of the National Union of Journalists, she also takes a keen interest in the underside of the writing profession, and will often be found expressing solidarity with those refusing to join the race to the bottom.
After qualifying as a chartered accountant, Peter Smethurst moved to the Netherlands in 1981. Following jobs in finance and the computer industry, he began as a professional translator 25 years ago, first as an employee and after 18 months as a zzp’er. He specialises in financial and other commercial work.