Response to reviewers
Thread poster: Denise Phelps

Denise Phelps  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 19, 2012

Following the peer review procedure, my client's article has been returned with a list of suggested changes, mainly regarding content, clarification, etc.

However, one of the reviewers has also suggested "improving the English throughout". I have two problems with this:

1) The reviewer has included suggestions for some quite specific changes, which in addition to being unusual in itself, are incorrect (for example, changing a sentence structure from "We still do not know this or that" to "We still do not know this, and that").

2) It's over 6 months since I translated the original article, so I think I have the necessary "distance", but apart from tweaking one or two sentences, I genuinely cannot find anything to change.

I know I have no alternative other than to explain this to my client, who will be unhappy because the aim of the exercise is to please the reviewers, not to use English correctly.

I was just wondering if anyone here has had similar experiences, and how you handled it.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 16:21
Chinese to English
Say to them what you've said to us Feb 19, 2012

In a diplomatic way, of course:
Thank you for the useful feedback. I took most of the reviewers' suggestions on board, with a couple of exceptions noted in the text. As suggested by one reviewer, I also did a thorough language check and made some small improvements. In general, I prefer to work with rather more specific suggestions from reviewers.
A good client will get the message, and if they don't, you can be less subtle next time!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Criticism must be specific Feb 19, 2012

Point out the mistake(s) in the suggested changes, preferably quoting a style guide or grammar rule. (Ernest Gowers, Greenbaum & Whitcut, and Michael Swann are my favourites, perhaps the American Psychological Association guide for scientific papers).

Tweak the sentences to show your willingness to take advice, IF the changes are actually improvements.

Vague comments like 'improve throughout' are impossible to comply with, especially in English, where there is no Language Committee or 'Académie Anglaise' to refer to. What is meant by 'good' and less good English is so subjective that comments like that are worthless.

If your source text is a little rough here and there, or where the syntax is complicated, it is not always possible to translate into elegant prose and at the same time render the meaning precisely. Rendering the meaning accurately takes precedence.

'I would have put it differently' is not in itself a valid reason for making changes - I have read texts where in fact I would not have put it so well as the other translator!

Part of being professional is being able to defend what you wrote in the first place - because it was well thought out and you had your reasons. This means you can reject changes that you disagree with. Peer means just that, and your opinion is as valid as theirs.

It is your translation and your client. If the text was satisfactory six months ago, it served its purpose and was good enough.

Best of luck!



[Edited at 2012-02-20 12:24 GMT]


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Texte Style
Local time: 10:21
French to English
How long were you given to translate it? Feb 19, 2012

I agree thoroughly with all above comments.

What would make my blood boil is the fact that they took six months to come back to you.

It may have sat on someone's desk for all that time, in which case they could have given you six months to complete the translation huh?

Or maybe they sent it to whoever needed it, it served its purpose, nobody complained and now... have they paid you or do you think it might be delaying tactics?

And surely the aim for you is not to please the reviewers but to ensure that your translation is of good quality? Otherwise the aim of the reviewer should be to please the translator which is very clearly not the case here!

Good luck!


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:21
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Journal reviews Feb 19, 2012

Although it is not specifically stated in the original post, I gather that the translated article was submitted to a scientific journal. It is not at all unusual for the review process at the journal to take 6 months or more. It has to be reviewed first by the editor who was assigned to deal with it, then sent to one or more peer reviewers, and finally by the editor again. These people are often busy teachers and/or researchers and they do this additional work without pay.

As for the English, people can have different opinions about what is, or is not, good English. Do the best you can and if possible have it edited/proofread by a native speaker.


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Texte Style
Local time: 10:21
French to English
Thank you for your explanation Tina Feb 19, 2012

Tina Vonhof wrote:

Although it is not specifically stated in the original post, I gather that the translated article was submitted to a scientific journal. It is not at all unusual for the review process at the journal to take 6 months or more. It has to be reviewed first by the editor who was assigned to deal with it, then sent to one or more peer reviewers, and finally by the editor again. These people are often busy teachers and/or researchers and they do this additional work without pay.



Ah I see. I never do that type of work!

It so happens that a client of mine complained recently, after putting my translation on their website 6 months ago (where it shone like a beacon of good English among all the other stuff they translate themselves or have translated by "someone who is cheaper than you, who we give less important texts to".)
The mail with the unfounded complaints came in response to my polite reminder that they were several months behind with payment, so I was thinking that Denise may have fallen victim to the same sort of people.


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Eileen Cartoon  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:21
Italian to English
I've had this happen many times Feb 19, 2012

If you are talking about a scientific paper that has gone through the peir review process I have found this comment quite common. I have often seen reviewers suggest changes that are downright incorrect. I think most often it happens when the "peer" reviewing the paper (someone who is an expert in the same field) is in disagreement with the work (because it is in contrast his/her own research). They use this as an excuse so they can slow down the publicaiton process, particularly when there is not be much technically to criticize. It has absolutely nothing to do with the translation.
I once had a paper come back three times and the only criticism was that nevertheless should be written never the less.
Your situation may very well be one of these cases.
Eileen


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Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 11:21
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Reviewers do this Feb 20, 2012

Eileen Cartoon wrote:

If you are talking about a scientific paper that has gone through the peir review process I have found this comment quite common. I have often seen reviewers suggest changes that are downright incorrect. I think most often it happens when the "peer" reviewing the paper (someone who is an expert in the same field) is in disagreement with the work (because it is in contrast his/her own research). They use this as an excuse so they can slow down the publicaiton process, particularly when there is not be much technically to criticize. It has absolutely nothing to do with the translation.


Yes, I edit medical research articles and I've seen this happen a lot. A reviewer, especially if not a native speaker of English, will suggest that the manuscript needs "major review". I think sometimes it's just because they see the article comes from a country where English is not the main language, or perhaps there may be more dubious motives, as Eileen suggests.

What I do is just add a note to the effect that "the manuscript has been reviewed extensively by a native English speaker."


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Kevin Clayton
Spain
Local time: 10:21
Member (2012)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with the other comments Feb 20, 2012

My last paper – a scientific paper that was partly written by me and wholly proofread/edited by me – was returned to us with the comments of two reviewers. The first raved about the paper and finished his review with: “the authors have clearly taken time in both editing a well-written article and checking for mistakes. There is not a typo that I came across in the entire manuscript and the Figures are clear and well constructed.” The second reviewer, however, said that the article needed “to be reworked” and that he found it “confusing” and “wordy”. We addressed the scientific/experimental concerns of the second reviewer and did some minor rewriting – required anyway due to the other changes we’d made – but nothing on the scale suggested. I, of course, like to think that the first reviewer is correct!

So, I agree with the suggestions of the others above. Refute his specific language suggestions with style and grammar guides and be aware that, like Eileen and Philip state above, there may be more sinister motives behind the criticism. In addition, the review may have been written by an underling of the suggested reviewer, someone who may not be as experienced as they should be and may be attempting to prove himself/herself by trying to be as critical as possible.

Good luck!


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Denise Phelps  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everyone Feb 20, 2012

for your encouraging answers and experiences. I have simply written to my client as Phil Hand suggested.

I hadn't considered the possibility of wanting to delay publication, though I did once have an experience where the journal was clearly using criticism of the use of English to sell it's own in-house proofreading service (and ultimately refused to publish the article unless it passed through the hands of their service - the article was published elsewhere with no problems).

Sometimes I've also wondered if reviewers criticise the use of English because their own command of the language is insufficient to understand the article. As an example, and to end on a lighter note, here are some of the criticisms another client received once, from a reviewer who also said that the English needed revision, and which I've kept because they are so astounding:

"There is useful to add a sentence to making generalization from results that obtained this study in abstract.

I drown regression line from means R2 degree is bigger than you.

Because there is other meaning this word that saturated with rain.

It was be a term very generally, is it need?

Is this soil type any problem for Spain or chickpea grown area.

...unfortunately it aren't understood clearly.

...this term needn’t sufficient...

...you should be controlled regression line for this character.

...probability of significant is low.

It should be useful with make to regression analysis.

There is useful to added these terms.

How meant replication?"


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:21
English
+ ...
"There is useful"..... Feb 21, 2012

Denise Phelps wrote:

.... to end on a lighter note, here are some of the criticisms another client received once, from a reviewer who also said that the English needed revision, and which I've kept because they are so astounding:

"There is useful to add a sentence to making generalization from results that obtained this study in abstract.

I drown regression line from means R2 degree is bigger than you.

Because there is other meaning this word that saturated with rain.

It was be a term very generally, is it need?

Is this soil type any problem for Spain or chickpea grown area.

...unfortunately it aren't understood clearly.

...this term needn’t sufficient...

...you should be controlled regression line for this character.

...probability of significant is low.

It should be useful with make to regression analysis.

There is useful to added these terms.

How meant replication?"



Thanks, Denise. These are wonderful! Still laughing as I type this. "It aren't...."?


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Eileen Cartoon  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:21
Italian to English
I was talking to a friend about this thread Feb 21, 2012

Yesterday, by chance I mentioned this thread to a friend of mine who is by no means involved in translation. He is a professor of crystallography at the univeristy and in this line he told me a story I would like to share.

He told me that several times he and other colleagues encountered this sort of problem, with the paper coming back from peer review with a lot of indications about language. This, of course, slowed up publication and, when the work was finally published, in the same issue was another paper with very similar content. He has had the suspicion that the reviewers took some of his ideas, elaborated on them and then published at the same time.

It seems that this is not all that unusual but it really is terrible. Talk about intellectual property rights!


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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule
post editing Mar 9, 2012

Hello,

Im a translation student and I'm currently writing my dissertation on The Influence of Machine Translation on professional translators.

One of my arguments, or lets say, an element that threatens translators' profession is that in some cases MT reduces the role of translator to post-editor/ revisor only.

That's why I'd like to ask you-professional translators, if you have ever been asked to edit a raw MT output. Have any of your clients (or maybe an agency) asked you to do that? I know it's not a common practise, but how often does it happen?

Your comments would be extremely helpful


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Hi Abigel Mar 9, 2012

Welcome to the discussion, but just a word of advice:

You are strictly off topic here!

Your question is relevant and interesting, but could you please start a new thread?
Otherwise you will find the Moderators have to remove your post too, referring you to this rule!

http://www.proz.com/siterules/forum/4#4

Then we can have another good discussion

Thanks in advance!


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