By P. J. Matthews, for the Research Cooperative (revised 24th Feb. 2009)
The first question that many writers may want to ask when looking for help is
- How can I trust an editor or translator I have never met?
On the other side of the relationship, the first question that many editors or translators may want to ask is:
- How can I trust a writer I have never met?
Writers should try to explain what they need, and then pay properly (or at least show suitable gratitude) for the work that is done. The most-appreciated payment might be $500, $100, a book, a bottle of something nice to drink, or just some kind words.
There are no easy answers on how to start. Many editors, translators and writers depend on friends and colleagues to make contacts and establish trust - but not everyone has a suitable personal network.
We all have to start somewhere!
One alternative for writers is to look for a commercial editing or translation company, or an independent but professional editor or translator. These are good options if you can afford commercial and professional fees. Such fees can be very high. See our note on 'Money and payments'
You cannot be absolutely sure of finding a suitable person this way, but the chances are good, and if you are confident about judging the quality of the work carried out, then you can also judge whether the cost is justified.
Not everyone is lucky!
In many parts of the world, and especially for inexperienced writers who are aiming to publish in a second language, it is very difficult to find editors or translators who are
- live nearby
- are familiar with negotiating prices and deadlines
- are experts in the languages concerned, and
- are experts in relevant fields of research
- able to clearly explain the changes that they want you to make
- are willing to help you learn to become a better writer
For very specialised areas of research, access to suitable editing or translation may depend entirely on whether or not the writer can find a willing researcher in the same field - there may be no other kind of person who can really help. With this website, and with a very specific explanation of your needs, you may be able to find such a person.
We encourage writers to seek volunteers with relevant interests or experience. If you ask, you might be lucky!
You will certainly not find anyone if you do not ask.
I work in Japan where researchers often make huge efforts to write and publish in English, but with very limited access to suitable editors and translators.
Vetting and the Research Cooperative
The Research Cooperative cannot check the suitability and reliability of the people who offer services at this website. Such vetting is one role of editing and translation companies. Some companies also give their staff and associates training, and tests. The cost to a company of vetting, training, and testing is reflected in the price paid by authors and publishers to the company.
The Research Cooperative can only offer forums for first contact between editors, translators, service companies, and writers. Our words of advice in notes like the one you are reading now (see "All notes" in the menu above) may also be useful, but ultimately, members of the Cooperative must learn how to build trust and working relationships for themselves, through trial and error.
The benefit of our open approach, without vetting, is that writers of any level of skill can look for editors and translators of any level of skill - and vice versa - according to need and available funds or required level of payment.
In this way, we can promote the mutual development of skills and contacts among all academic research writers, editors, and translators.
Getting started as an editor or translator
If you are working as an editor or translator on your own, or would like to begin such work, then you cannot avoid having to deal with writers directly. If your standard is good, then you can try to join an editing or translation company, and have your name added to a list of vetted editors. Or you can ask the publishers or editors of academic books and journals about opportunities for contracts - short-term or long-term.
For writers, there is nothing better than a direct working relationship with someone who understands the research that is being published, and who can be trusted to give good advice on the use of language. Editors and translators can also benefit from personal working relationships - with direct feedback from writers you can adapt your approach to suit each writer and piece of writing.
When writers, editors and translators succeed in building trust and good working relationships, then this can also be very cost effective - especially if the relationship is reciprocal (as often happens when research colleagues take turns to help each other voluntarily).
When writers, editors and translators have direct working relationships, then any payments can be transferred without anything being lost to people in between. This way of working allows editors and translators to charge less than a commercial company, and to gain the loyalty of their customers.
The Research Cooperative supports the work of editing and translation companies, and independent professionals
It is up to each of us to make choices that suit our particular aims and circumstances. The Research Cooperative fully supports the efforts of editing and translation companies and independent professionals - but we also believe that it is possible for researchers and others to communicate directly to build trust and good working relationships.
The latter approach has always been used within local or isolated research communities.
With the Internet and this website, editors, translators, illustrators, and writers can now:
- meet each other over any geographical, linguistic, and social distance, and
- build the trust that is necessary for good working relationships.