How would you charge for reading and criticising academic papers?
Thread poster: Josephine Gardiner

Josephine Gardiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 3, 2016

Good morning all...

I have been asked by one of my Spanish clients to read and comment ('critique') on several academic papers (written in my native language, English), explaining difficult points using Spanish if necessary.

I am wondering how to charge for this.

I already do editing work, and always charge a percentage of my translation rate, the percentage depending on the amount of work needed. But this is neither editing nor translation. It is not a particularly difficult job, and the field is familiar (healthcare/medical), but it is time consuming. I suppose one answer is to charge an hourly rate, but I'm never crazy about charging by the hour because what I get done in an hour varies.

Suggestions welcome, thanks in advance...


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Hourly Mar 3, 2016

I'm not entirely sure what you're supposed to be doing, but you should definitely charge by the hour seeing as you don't know exactly how long it will take. Why should you take the hit if it takes longer?

Alternatively quote a fixed price with a BIG margin.


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Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 09:26
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Authoring service Mar 3, 2016

Josephine Gardiner wrote:

Good morning all...

I have been asked by one of my Spanish clients to read and comment ('critique') on several academic papers (written in my native language, English), explaining difficult points using Spanish if necessary.

I am wondering how to charge for this.

I already do editing work, and always charge a percentage of my translation rate, the percentage depending on the amount of work needed. But this is neither editing nor translation. It is not a particularly difficult job, and the field is familiar (healthcare/medical), but it is time consuming. I suppose one answer is to charge an hourly rate, but I'm never crazy about charging by the hour because what I get done in an hour varies.

Suggestions welcome, thanks in advance...



This belongs to the reviewing service. I charged such project by page (dimension: A4, font: Calibri 12 pt, space: 1.5; other setting: default Microsoft Word 2010). You can charge higher if the client demands you to read additional books, journals, etc.

[Edited at 2016-03-03 11:16 GMT]


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Paulinho Fonseca  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:26
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Hourly. Mar 3, 2016

Chris S wrote:

I'm not entirely sure what you're supposed to be doing, but you should definitely charge by the hour seeing as you don't know exactly how long it will take. Why should you take the hit if it takes longer?

Alternatively quote a fixed price with a BIG margin.


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
. Mar 3, 2016

Josephine Gardiner wrote:

I suppose one answer is to charge an hourly rate, but I'm never crazy about charging by the hour because what I get done in an hour varies.

This goes for most jobs. Whether you're a translator, a brain surgeon or a housepainter, you can never be sure how productive each hour will be.

Since your customer will almost certainly want a fixed price, you have to guess how long each paper will take and hope for the best. Sometimes your estimate will be wrong, but hopefully it will always even out in the long term.


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:26
German to English
Hourly rate based on the specific document Mar 3, 2016

I regularly edit articles written by both native and non-native speakers of English. I charge an hourly rate, and my main client doesn't require an estimate in advance. However, I need to rely on a theoretical time budget in order to estimate for myself how much time a document will require. This is based on on the amount of time it normally takes to edit a reasonably well-written document produced by a non-native speaker. If, for example, I can edit 1000 words/hour, a 3000 word document will take about 3 hours (your mileage may vary). Always round up – 3500 words = 4 hours. If tables are included, I include the total word count in estimating the time, even though the tables include primarily data (numbers). This allows me to build in a "fudge factor". If you have to explain your corrections, then add another 25% to your time factor when giving an estimate.

You can frequently determine the quality of the language by a spot check. If you encounter a lot of errors in randomly-selected passages, then increase the amount of time estimated to edit the document.

Do not give a blanket estimate in advance for all documents, as this can cost you money. If pressed to do so, then increase your time estimate per 1000 words, to e.g. 1.5 hours. Always err on the side of caution. Sometimes you'll get it right, sometimes not. As Phil said, you can hope it evens out in the end. Coming in under estimate never hurts and builds goodwill with the customer.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:26
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agree with Kevin Mar 3, 2016

The reason you would charge an hourly rate is exactly because you don't know ahead of time how much you can do in an hour - Kevin's suggestion is a very good start. And I don't know about you but I always want to spend at least one additional hour for a final reading after I have 'slept on it'.

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:26
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some thoughts on editing work Mar 3, 2016

philgoddard wrote:

Since your customer will almost certainly want a fixed price, you have to guess how long each paper will take and hope for the best. Sometimes your estimate will be wrong, but hopefully it will always even out in the long term.


This is right on. I've done a fair amount of such work myself, and I can never remember an instance in which an actual or prospective client indicated a willingness to enter into an open-ended arrangement, with billable hours to be determined at my sole discretion.

Any prospective client will almost certainly want to be quoted a fixed price (or, and what amounts to the same thing, will accept an hourly charge only as long as you indicate the maximum hours you will bill for).

So the thing to do is what Phil suggests. Specifically, you can work up an estimate based on the editing of 2 or 3 pages of the document and then extrapolate from the time involved in editing that text to create a fixed-price quote for the entire document. You can even cover yourself in the event of a later unpleasant surprise by making it clear that you are providing the quote on the assumption that the entire text to be edited is of more or less the same quality as the first "x" pages you worked on. (And so, if this assumption is egregiously violated, then you have room to either renegotiate the fee or withdraw from the project.)

Two other points are in order from a marketing point of view.
1.
I would recommend doing this "preliminary editing" using the "Track Changes" function in MS Word and providing comments re your proposed changes. This will allow your prospective client to clearly see not only the value of your editing services, but also how carefully you approach your work. If you want to really gild the lily here, you could send both a "changes shown" and "clean" version of the edited text to the client, and encourage him or her to compare your "clean" version with the original.
2.
Work up the quote in a way that shows that you are providing a good deal for the client's money. For example, you could write something like: "I typically charge $50.00 per hour for my services, and thus the projected 20 hours of editing needed for your paper would normally cost you $1000.00. But in this instance, I can offer you a 20 percent discount, so your charge would be only $800.00. I am also guaranteeing that this $800 is the final price, even if I have to spend more than the projected 20 hours working on this project." (This is just an example.)

A further suggestion for managing such projects:
If you do not know the client involved, I would recommend you insist on "payment prior to delivery" instead of agreeing to an arrangement of "payment x days after delivery" (which is to my mind only appropriate for work with trusted agencies or businesses). And if the fee involved exceeds $800 or so, you ought to divide the project into two phases (i.e., involving payment of half of the money after you edit half of the material). If the project is "really big" (say, a doctoral dissertation or book), think about dividing it into 3 or more phases.

In this regard, keep in mind that this sort of editing work typically represents a considerable expense for a student on a shoestring budget. Once he or she has your polished version of the text in hand, a lot of motivation for paying you disappears--and a lot of other priorities for financial expenditure automatically take precedence. Beware!

A final thought:
This kind of work almost always pays less than it is really worth. This is fundamentally the result of two factors:
1.
The individual needing such work done typically has a limited budget.
2.
The very fact that a person seeks this kind of editing service almost always means that he or she is well aware that the text in question is fundamentally defective in a way that requires major fixes rather than mere "tweaking."

Good luck!

[Edited at 2016-03-03 18:16 GMT]


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Josephine Gardiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Mar 3, 2016

Many thanks for all these replies, I appreciate it.

Just to clarify - this is not actually an editing job. I already have a system for pricing editing jobs which usually works reasonably well (look at the document, judge the amount of editing involved, suggest a per-word rate). Instead I was asked to read some published scientific articles and write comments on the content and methods used - not something I've been asked for before - so I was just wondering what people charge for this sort of thing. I should have added that the client is regular one and is a junior academic, so I was anxious to be fair, given their pay.

Anyway, I've now started and have some idea of how long each article will take, so I'm going to suggest a price per article.

Thanks again for taking the time for these detailed replies.


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