This is the accepted manuscript of a Letter to the Editor published in Accountability in Research on 10
March 2020. Please cite this green OA version as: Matarese V, Shashok K. 2020. Acknowledging editing and
translation: a pending issue in accountability. Accountability in Research, Accepted author version 29
February. DOI: 10.1080/08989621.2020.1737525. If you have access to the journal's version at
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08989621.2020.1737525, please consult and cite that version
as: Matarese V, Shashok K. 2020. Acknowledging editing and translation: a pending issue in accountability.
Accountability in Research, xx(yy): aa-bb. DOI: 10.1080/08989621.2020.1737525.
Acknowledging editing and translation:
a pending issue in accountability
Valerie Matarese, Authors’ Editor and Editorial Consultant, Vidor, Italy, firstname.lastname@example.org,
*Karen Shashok, Translator and Editorial Consultant, Granada, Spain, email@example.com,
Hosseini and Lewis (2020) examined authorship in the European Code of Conduct for Research
Integrity (ECCRI), highlighting challenges in defining accountability and responsibility for
contributors to published research. They recommended that ECCRI provide more detailed guidance
on when and how authors of research articles should acknowledge the contributions of persons who
do not meet authorship criteria. Non-author contributions, as summarized by Hosseini and Lewis,
are “administrative, technical, lingual, editorial, supervisory and financial support tasks”.
As providers of linguistic and editorial services for researchers, we applaud Hosseini and Lewis for
recognizing the “growing importance of editorial and translation contributions” in light of
widespread awareness that this support influences research reporting and merits acknowledgment.
However, we wish to clarify that editors and translators who support research writing do not work
only for non-English speakers. Translation is often used by researcher-authors who speak English
but are not proficient in written academic English. Likewise, editing is valuable to both native and
non-native English speakers. In fact, the profession of editing for researcher-authors originated in
the USA after World War II, when researchers there were overwhelmingly native English speakers.
This profession, called author editing, subsequently spread to non-anglophone countries,
particularly research-intensive nations in Europe and Asia. The history, roles and attributes of author
editing, and the working methods of authors’ editors, are documented in a body of literature going
back 50 years (see Matarese, 2016).
Accountability and responsibility for non-author contributors to research publications is an
unexplored topic in publication ethics. However, translators and authors’ editors (T&AEs) who
work with researchers are now studying how these professionals wish to be credited, and how
researchers react to acknowledgment requests (Burrough-Boenisch, 2019; Matarese and Shashok,
2019). Journals may require a certificate from T&AEs as evidence that authors whose first language
is not English sought help before submission. But this requirement apparently serves to ensure
compliance with the journal's instructions to seek help rather than to make T&AEs publicly
accountable. Medical journals often require medical writers to be acknowledged, but may not apply
this requirement to T&AEs, leaving acknowledgment of these contributors to the authors’
discretion. Moreover, some authors are reluctant to acknowledge their use of language services.
Practices also vary among T&AEs: some forego acknowledgment because they believe it
inappropriate or unnecessary, or worry that their reputation may be harmed by errors made during
later revisions or editorial processing (Burrough-Boenisch, 2019). Burrough-Boenisch (2019) noted
that, “Although both authors and editors might prefer editing assistance not to be acknowledged, not
disclosing such assistance runs counter to the principle of transparency in scientific and scholarly
publication”. Authors, irrespective of their first language, should “not feel that acknowledging
professional language assistance compromises their reputation in their academic or scientific
community” (Burrough-Boenisch, 2019). Perhaps the time has come for institutions and publishers
to refine their policies on acknowledging translation and editing, to reflect the growing role of these
contributions and meet expectations for appropriate accountability and responsibility.
Funding: No funding was provided to either author for preparing this letter.
Disclosure statement: Both authors are self-employed and recognize that publication of this letter
might attract potential clients.
Data availability statement: No data were collected for this letter.
Burrough-Boenisch, Joy. 2019. “Do Freelance Editors for Academic and Scientific Researchers
Seek Acknowledgement? A Cross-sectional Study.” European Science Editing 45 (2):32-37.
Hosseini, Mohammad, and John Lewis. 2020. “The Norms of Authorship Credit: Challenging the
Definition of Authorship in the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.” Accountability
in Research 27 (2):80-98. doi:10.1080/08989621.2020.1721288.
Matarese, Valerie. 2016. Editing Research: The Author Editing Approach to Providing Effective
Support to Writers of Research Papers. Medford, NJ: Information Today. ISBN 978-157387531-8
Matarese, Valerie, and Karen Shashok. 2019. “Transparent Attribution of Contributions to Research:
Aligning Guidelines to Real-Life Practices.” Publications 7: 24. doi:10.3390/publications7020024.