Do you charge a surcharge for dealing with academic work (theses, reports etc.)?
Thread poster: Mark Sanderson

Mark Sanderson  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 20:52
Chinese to English
Aug 23, 2014

Based on the assignment that I am currently working on I know that I probably should be!

The difficulty is not in the content of the document per se; it's more about the formatting and the style rules of the journal where the client hopes to get his article published being a little bit unfamiliar.

Bearing in mind that the journal in question also requires the romanization and Chinese characters of key phrases, names etc. in the target text, as well as the translation of all the references at the end, it is taking me ages!

I am definitely regretting accepting my standard rate for this one - there clearly should have been a surcharge!

The lesson that I have learned here is to carefully check all assignments before accepting them.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:52
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The golden rule! Aug 23, 2014

Mark Sanderson wrote
The lesson that I have learned here is to carefully check all assignments before accepting them

I wouldn't think there's any reason for a blanket surcharge, but it does sound as though you're likely to be spending a lot of time on this job. I think I'd probably want to charge a separate rate (per word/hour or a rate for the job) rather than raising my translation rate - it isn't that that's taking the time.


 

Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:52
Member (2011)
Spanish to French
+ ...
That's precisely the point! Aug 23, 2014

Yesterday I was sent a translation dealing with accounting and the likes. When I received the file, I saw a lot of different formatings and was told that I was to respect them. Then I saw the rate, around 0,5€/word and that a definite no-no for me. Although it meant losing 800€, it also meant losing my mind with all the formating and having to work during the whole WE for an indecent rate. I have no pb working during some WE but surely not for peanuts. Mainly because I am no monkey!icon_wink.gif

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:52
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Another Golden Rule Aug 23, 2014

Always look at a job, especially at any formatting requirements or special instructions from the customer, before accepting a rate.

On second thought, aren't we the vendors?icon_eek.gif Therefore, we (should) rather state a rate than "just" accept which ever rate is being offered, unless it matches (or perhaps even exceeds?) our rate.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:52
Russian to English
+ ...
The highest rate. Aug 23, 2014

Academic texts should only be translated by people with relevant knowledge/eduction in the field--for example someone who does not have university education in molecular physics should not be translating such articles--it would be a total waste of time and money, or perhaps even something dangerous.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:52
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I wish! Aug 23, 2014

Hi Mark.

I strongly sympathise. Just to keep me slightly occupied during August, when no translating work ever comes in, last June I accepted the job of translating a book dealing with a particular subject area in which I'm well-versed and have complete command of the vocabulary. I was also under no illusions about the style of writing used by the author; as an academic myself, I know what's expected. Nor was I put off by my knowledge that Italian academics often do not write well, and sometimes deliberately obfuscate as a way of safeguarding their Olympian detachment from ordinary mortals.

I looked forward to this job because the book investigates topics that greatly interest me. The agency commissioning the translation pleaded for a reduced rate because they said that the university only pays them at a low rate. So I accepted on condition that I could do the work slowly, with a very long deadline in September.

Alas, this job has completely filled up the whole of August and will probably take much of September as well; the subject matter is indeed interesting but the author's writings about it are very poorly written, partly plagiarised from other sources I have found during my researches, and so incomprehensible that I find myself actually writing a new book in English. Trying to remain faithful to the lackadaisical, sloppy, incomprehensible Italian whilst also producing an elegant, legible English version is something I'm used to, but in this case I just wish I had not conceded a reduction of my rate. In fact I should have charged double my full rate!

I remain passionately interested in taking a badly written academic text and turning it miraculously into a well-written English text, but in future I'll have to read more carefully before accepting !

PS the good news is that having invested in a USB headset I've discovered the wonders of the Dictation application that comes as part of the Mac operating system. I'm typing much less now-I just speak what I want and hey presto: (most of) the words appear correctly! In fact I've dictated most of this post!

[Edited at 2014-08-23 10:43 GMT]


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 20:52
Chinese to English
References are the killer Aug 23, 2014

Mark Sanderson wrote:

Based on the assignment that I am currently working on I know that I probably should be!

The difficulty is not in the content of the document per se; it's more about the formatting and the style rules of the journal where the client hopes to get his article published being a little bit unfamiliar.

Bearing in mind that the journal in question also requires the romanization and Chinese characters of key phrases, names etc. in the target text, as well as the translation of all the references at the end, it is taking me ages!

I am definitely regretting accepting my standard rate for this one - there clearly should have been a surcharge!

The lesson that I have learned here is to carefully check all assignments before accepting them.

I love academic translation because it's so much more interesting than a lot of commercial stuff, but references are a nightmare. It might be worth downloading some formatting software like LaTex - I've never used it, but it might help a bit.


 

DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 13:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some reference manager is highly desirable. Aug 23, 2014

Phil Hand wrote:

I love academic translation because it's so much more interesting than a lot of commercial stuff, but references are a nightmare. It might be worth downloading some formatting software like LaTex - I've never used it, but it might help a bit.


LaTeX is great for Mathematicians, Physicists etc. I've used it for many years, but wouldn't recommend it for general academic use e.g. for people in the Humanities - it's just too "techy" and can be a nightmare when something goes wrong. If you do use it MikTeX is a good implementation.

Endnote, for example, is much more user-friendly http://endnote.com/ and I have used it for Humanities-related work.

[Edited at 2014-08-23 17:10 GMT]


 

mag013
Local time: 22:52
Italian to English
+ ...
The price of two jobs for one. Aug 23, 2014

I do a lot of editing of scientific texts which requires correction of the language in terms of grammar, punctuation, syntax etc., as well as conforming to writing Guidelines for Authors covering use of acronyms, abbreviations, in text and reference list citations etc. You are actually performing two jobs: translator and specialist editor.

Regarding references, a reference manager such as EndNote or Mendeley will download references from internet databases and automatically format these according to any designated journal's guidelines.


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:52
French to English
+ ...
Not automatically your job to format Aug 24, 2014

Mark Sanderson wrote:
The difficulty is not in the content of the document per se; it's more about the formatting and the style rules of the journal where the client hopes to get his article published being a little bit unfamiliar.


I translate journal and conference articles more or less regularly, and for me the usual arrangement is that unless they agree otherwise, it's the client's responsibility to provide me with a document that is already in the required format, or else their responsibility to format it as required after translation. I've not yet had a client come back to me and say "but surely that's your job". Being academics, usually such clients understand at least enough English to understand the submission/formatting requirements. And I'm not translating between different writing systems, so obviously it's not quite a comparable situation to yours. But my point is that it seems to be a reasonable stance to say that formatting work to very specific requirements is an extra task beyond the actual translation.

If you do end up doing the formatting, bear in mind that many journals/conferences also provide templates.

Rather than formatting, what I would say is slightly different about charging for academic translations is that it is part of the normal process that after the article comes back from peer review, the author will need to make a few changes -- in other words, after the initial translation, there'll inevitably be some modifications and additional paragraphs, but the authors may not be able to allocate additional funds from the project budget at that stage. So I tend to quote a price from the outset that includes reasonable modifications after peer review.


 


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