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finding work translating research into English
Thread poster: xxx1279
xxx1279
Local time: 10:18
Aug 14, 2007

Hi everyone,

Recently I've been trying to take the oft-given advice to "specialize, specialize, specialize" a bit more seriously. I have work experience and a degree in Dietetics, so I'm trying to attract more work in the realm of nutrition and the life sciences.

Specifically, I was thinking that I should try to find more jobs translating dietetic research into English. There are several important nutrition journals published in English, but the studies published in these journals are done by scientists all over the world. Clearly, some translation is going on somewhere in the process! The problem is that I am not sure how researchers find translators when they want to submit their articles to English-language journals. Up to this point, I've only received such jobs from agencies.

Do any of you have experience in this area? I would love any insight that you could give me on the best way to approach my intended audience. For example, is there some effective way to advertise to members of professional associations in countries where my source language (Spanish) is spoken?

Thanks for your help.
Clare


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Chun Un  Identity Verified
Macau
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Research Aug 14, 2007

Hi Clare

I've just read your forum post... I've been thinking about the same question myself. A colleague of mine (I work in an editorial office) once suggested to me that we could set up a website for translating/editing research papers...

But my question has been - do most researchers, being mostly publicly funded, usually have the budget for translation? And if they do, do they usually pay the rates which make translators' time/energy worthwhile? Some of the texts I edit can be quite a
challenge for translators and I would not even bother to try to
translate them unless they paid me much higher rates than my standard ones.

Best wishes

Chun

[Edited at 2007-08-14 04:19]

[Edited at 2007-08-14 04:26]


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xxx1279
Local time: 10:18
TOPIC STARTER
adding to the list of questions Aug 14, 2007

I too have wondered about the profitability of this market, considering the fact that I would want to hire a colleague for editing/proofreading this type of job.

I've looked around online and there are a couple of sites that advertise research translations done by people with doctorate degrees, so that makes me think the rates can be reasonable. (But it also makes me wonder if I would need to have a Ph.D. to be competitive!)


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Dr. Andrew Frankland  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I don't think there's a market Aug 14, 2007

Dear Clare,

I used to work in the editorial office of a chemistry research journal so I guess I can give you a bit of an insight. Primary research is generally published in English as this is the lingua franca of science. The vast majority of authors therefore have a sufficient level of English, picked up simply from reading research papers, to be able to express themselves well enough to write a paper in a language that is not their own. Research budgets rarely stretch to paying translators/editors prior to submission, and certainly not at market rates, so most authors do the best they can and then rely on the editorial office to tighten things up once the paper is accepted.

A research paper should never be rejected on the grounds of poor English, although the referee can request that the manuscript be checked by a native speaker before being published -- this is generally the responsibility of the in-house editorial staff.

I still work for this journal as an editor and language polisher, and my job mainly involves improving the English of accepted manuscripts. They employ freelancers as, being based in Germany, the social costs are such that it works out much, much cheaper. The cost of employing the freelancers is covered by subscriptions to the journal.

I hope this is of some help.

Andy


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
My experience Aug 14, 2007

Hi Clare, you may want to check out the websites of universities that do research.

Many (in Europe at least) have "Modern Language Services" that are usually in charge of translating the work done by the professors who do research. I've worked for 2 universities here in Spain.

The pay wasn't the best and you can plan on at least 90 days to get paid, but the flip side was that the delivery dates were also very generous, which gave me time to work on more lucrative, faster turn around projects as well.

That's my 2 cents of advice


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
bilingual journals Aug 14, 2007

Do you know any journals in your field that are published in both Spanish and English? That is, they are truly bilingual = they have a coordinated translation/editorial policy.

If so, get in touch with the editorial board and ask them who does their translations.

John Cutler's suggestion is a good one.


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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hi Clare, Aug 14, 2007

In my experience, as a Ph.D. and as someone who has spoken at international conferences and published, I can tell you that unless your professors have VERY big grants, they will not be likely to pay a decent wage to a translator- that's what teaching assistants are for!

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Deschant
Local time: 15:18
Reply Aug 14, 2007

I am also in academia and agree with the point that researchers usually have a sufficient active command of English to write papers in this language (though different fields have different requirements, in my view). However, what about advertising yourself as an "editor" rather than a translator? Obviously, if you made a wonderful discovery and describe it in a paper nobody is going to worry whether your English sounds native or not, but (in my own experience sending papers off to journals) a polished use of the English language is one of several elements taken into account when deciding to publish a piece of research. "Proofreading" or "editing" would also take less time than translating (unless the manuscript is full of errors) and would be therefore cheaper, so that researches and research departments could be more favorable to the idea of paying for it. Just my 2 cents.

Regards,
Eva

[Editado a las 2007-08-14 12:57]


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 16:18
Italian to English
+ ...
Analogy from history field Aug 14, 2007

This bit of further information may help.

In the history field, colleagues usually help correct or translate any research papers not written in English that need to be published in English (though in the history field most professionals read several languages anyway), and I suspect it would be the same thing in the science field.

I think you need to channel your interests and specializations into a commercially viable field. For example, if you have specialized knowledge of organic chemistry, try the relevant segment of oil & gas industry.


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Shaunna  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:18
English to Chinese
+ ...
Good researchers can write Aug 14, 2007

Dr. Andrew Frankland wrote:

Dear Clare,

I used to work in the editorial office of a chemistry research journal so I guess I can give you a bit of an insight. Primary research is generally published in English as this is the lingua franca of science. The vast majority of authors therefore have a sufficient level of English, picked up simply from reading research papers, to be able to express themselves well enough to write a paper in a language that is not their own.
....
Andy


As a researcher myself (yes I am a part-timer) and having published papers in English in the past, I agree with Andy.

Most researchers who can publish papers in international journals read tons of research papers in English (so one can keep up with the field) and are capable of writing in English efficiently. In the International Scholar Emaillist of this University I work with (in US), you do see once in a while messages looking for native English speakers to polish up a manuscript or a thesis, but I've never seen one asking for translation. And there are sometimes flyers around campus advertising English editing/polishing services.
For those ones who can't draft a manuscript in English at all, they always have friends or colleagues who can- English is the "international language" in the research field after all. I have helped friends and colleagues heavily "edit", and in one occasion, translate their manuscripts, for free of course.

Hope this helps.


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xxx1279
Local time: 10:18
TOPIC STARTER
I appreciate all of your comments! Aug 14, 2007

Thank you all for sharing your experiences. This was exactly the kind of information I was hoping to get when I posted the topic.

Thanks,
Clare


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:18
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Networking Aug 14, 2007

In contrast to most of the posters above, I do translate papers, or in some cases just abstracts, for quite a variety of academic clients. I have had various clients who are researchers or graduate students in history, administration, political science, botany, public health, social medicine, pharmaceutics, and mathematics. Some found me through ProZ or other similar websites, and some through word of mouth.

Clare, I don't know if this is a possibility for you, but one of my most fruitful contacts has been a friend who teaches English in the language services department of a university here in Mexico City. She and her colleagues prepare students to pass the mandatory foreign language requirement that all students have to fulfill for their degree. whatever their major. Professors at their university from all different areas come to them asking if they can translate their papers or abstracts into English, because the department is their closest point of contact with English. Since the teachers there are too busy with their teaching workload, these requests get referred to me.


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Linda 969
Local time: 16:18
Italian to English
+ ...
Editing for publication Aug 15, 2007

Hi Clare
I think you'll find this interesting:

http://jco.ascopubs.org/misc/ifora.shtml#Manuscript%20Categories






[Edited at 2007-08-15 17:53]


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