Research communication support

Author’s editing

Unlike medical writers, authors’ editors do not write material “for” or “instead of” the authors, but help researchers to edit and improve manuscripts that they have written themselves. Author’s editors can 1) correct spelling, grammar and syntax errors, 2) correct translation errors, 3) apply the journal’s instructions for manuscript preparation, 4) identify repetition or missing information, 5) improve the logical organization of the manuscript, and 6) identify potential problems with research or publication ethics. Researchers and their author’s editors should decide together which types of problems the author’s editor should deal with.

Translation

Someone who is a native speaker of English and is able to speak the researcher’s first language may not necessarily be a good translator into English. Two other elements are needed: good writing skills and experience with or formal expertise in the researcher’s scientific discipline. Curiosity about terms and concepts is important because it motivates communication professionals to learn what the actual scientific meaning is, and this knowledge makes them better translators or editors. Becoming a good translator, like becoming a good researcher, writer or editor, is a life-long learning experience.

Many STM translators provide author’s editing feedback in addition to translation. As translators read the original version they notice errors, internal contradictions and potentially confusing places that the authors or reviewers have overlooked. Translators and author’s editors aim to help researchers publish their articles, so they are always happy to know about the journal’s decision regarding acceptance, rejection or requested revision.

Medical writing

Medical writers do not usually work directly with researchers, but liaise with them through pharmaceutical firms, medical communications agencies and contract research organizations. The medical writer meets with researchers to obtain key information about the research, and may also search the literature to identify relevant studies that should be cited. The medical writer produces a first draft of the manuscript, which is revised by the investigators with help from the medical writer until the manuscript is ready to be submitted. Good medical writing is, in essence, good technical writing and reporting.

European Medical Writers Association. What is medical writing?