Useful materials from the Laboratory for Scientific Translation

When is editing by a native speaker not a prerequisite for success?

Just as not every Russian-speaking person is able to understand a scientific text written in their mother tongue, not every native English speaker has the necessary skills to edit a scientific text at the required level. Therefore, when resorting to such a service, it is necessary to ascertain that the editor is not just someone with an English-sounding surname, but who is either a specialist in a closely-related field or a professional linguist (ideally both). 
In addition, not all contemporary journals require texts submitted for publication to be edited by a native speaker. Indeed, this practice can be considered to be discriminatory against representatives of other cultures. Although comments of reviewers still include formulations like “turn to a native speaker to have your manuscript proofread”, they are becoming rarer. The main aim is for the text to be clearly understandable and written in competent language that corresponds to the scientific register and conventions applying in the relevant field. 
Finally, the contemporary readership of international scientific journals includes representatives of different cultures, among which native English speakers are a minority. Experts even talk about a special kind of English in scientific communication, sometimes referred to as “international English". This language is characterised by clarity of wording, simplicity of grammatical structures and the absence of culturally marked vocabulary. At this level, a competent text can often be created by someone for whom English is not their mother tongue.