英文編修, 論文校對, 論文修改, 論文翻譯, 期刊發表, 摘要翻譯
意得輯觀點 Editage Insights - What makes a good manuscript, tips for ESL authors, and more!
首頁 » 作者資源 »意得輯觀點 - 給EFL作者的英語寫作和學術發表建議
Dr. Eddy 將在此專欄與您分享他身為一名研究員多年來累積的【論文投稿發表】經驗。 請閱讀 Dr. Eddy 分享成功發表論文的技巧與國際期刊研究趨勢。


論文撰寫
給ESL作者的英語寫作和學術發表建議

比利時天文學家 Christiaan Sterken (以下稱史特肯博士)獲得根特大學數學碩士學位、布魯塞爾大學天文學博士學位和列日大學特許任教資格,同時,他也是布魯塞爾大學物理系的客座教授,目前任教科目為自然科學史。他於2006年至2007年間受邀為根特大學科學史薩頓講席教授(George Sarton Memorial Chair, Ghent University, 2006-2007),2014年獲得紐西蘭基督城坎特伯雷大學厄斯金獎學金,同時也是比利時科學研究基金的榮譽研究主任。

史特肯博士擁有豐富的編輯經驗,他發表過200多篇收錄於Scopus的高引用論文,也是兩本專題論文的作者和20幾本專書的主編或合編。此外,他創立了《變星快報》(Information Bulletin for Variable Stars,IBVS)的編輯委員會,於1991-1997年擔任主席。他在2008年創辦了青年天文學家科學論文寫作學校,也是《天文學和天體物理學》(Journal Astronomy and Astrophysics)期刊的董事會副主席。史特肯博士是線上開發存取期刊《天文數據》(The Journal of Astronomical Data)的聯合創始人兼編輯。他現為歐洲科學編輯協會(European Association of Science Editors,EASE)理事會的成員。他的母語是荷蘭語,並精通英語、法語、德語和西班牙語。

以下為史特肯博士的精彩訪談:

什麼原因促使您創辦青年天文學家科學論文寫作學校?

我在2005年為一個博士生研討會合編論文集,對一些投稿論文的低劣品質感到震驚。之後,我發表了一篇題目為《科學論文的寫作建議》的簡短論文,這篇文章被學生票選為論文集裡「最有幫助的論文」,為了幫助更多學生,我舉辦了第一和第二系列的科學論文寫作學校。

有鑑於您20多年的編輯經驗,同時又定期發表高品質論文-您38年前寫的博士論文《極端星系B和A 超巨星之光的變化》至今仍被引用。您認為一篇論文必須具備什麼條件才能被發表?

首先,一篇好的論文必須提出新的和先前從未公布過的研究成果,並且具備優良的寫作品質,即敘述流暢、簡明扼要,同時要有完整性、分析整理的圖表和正確地引用其他科學家的研究。很明顯的,稿件裡若有拼寫錯誤,就不可能是篇好的論文。

研究人員總是有發表論文的壓力。身為數份國際期刊的編輯委員,您每天面對什麼樣的憂慮或壓力?

主要是時間方面的壓力,因為作者們都希望自己的論文能被接受發表於期刊。然而,出版過程的每一個階段都需要時間,包括同儕審閱的評論、報告的檢查、作者對論文的修改、論文修改後的驗證和第二輪的審查安排(若需要的話)等。

同儕審閱過程是學術發表的基石之一,大多數人都對此系統的運作有初步概念。然而,作為一名編輯,這個過程中有哪些複雜情況必須由您親自處理呢?

同儕審閱過程是控制論文品質的方式,依靠一位或多位外部專家(多為匿名)審閱作者所提交的稿件,相信大家都了解,審稿人原則上擔任的是顧問的角色,最終的決定仍然取決於編輯。同儕審閱能幫忙檢測和發現各種錯誤,並經常提供改善稿件的寶貴建議。時常出現的典型問題是尋找一位好的評審:因為研究同儕全都面對時間壓力,有時沒辦法在時限內返還審閱報告;另一個常常出現的問題是利益衝突,即審查委員是作者的競爭對手。無論如何,被審查過的論文品質通常會比未審查的論文來得高。

期刊編輯通常如何知道審稿人和作者之間存有潛在的利益衝突?

利益衝突並不容易被察覺。有時,審閱報告裡若使用了尖刻的語言,可能暗示著有利益衝突;另一個徵兆是過長的審閱時間。最好的辦法是查詢文獻計量數據庫:如果審稿人和作者有很多篇題材類似的論文,那麼編輯就得留意。很多期刊要求審稿人先簽署一份無利益衝突聲明。為了避免這個問題,我本身就拒絕了至少一打審閱的邀請。

作為一位編輯,想必您對學術倫理保有高度熱誠。相信您一定會同意這樣的說法:有目的的違反倫理和無意的錯誤之間通常只是一線之差。期刊是如何找出作者的不正當行為呢?

作者不端行為有很多種形式,例如抄襲或把一份稿件同時提交給數份期刊。幸運的是,目前抄襲檢查軟體的功能強大,我們可以很容易地辨別這些違反道德的行為,很多時候,審稿人也幫忙檢查抄襲行為。

對於英語作為科學傳播的首選語言,您有什麼想法?

如今,英語己經成為科學傳播的通用語言。使用一個全球性語言的優勢多於使用多種語言的缺點。有兩個因素可以說明為何用英語來發表論文是必要的:

  1. 比起用自身的語言發表,用英言發表將會使得更多人能閱讀您的論文。
  2. 有更多審稿人可審閱您的論文。

當然這個做法也有缺點:非以英語為母語的人必須學會使用外語寫作,這個過程相當耗時。另一方面,科學傳播使用的英語並不規範:英語有許多變種(包括英式和美式英語之間的差異),還有不同專業學科領域的專業術語。

我們知道主帶小行星10968 Sterken (4393 T-1) 是以您命名的,可以與我們分享命名的過程嗎?

火星和木星軌道之間有成千上萬的小行星。天文學家之間有一個傳統,即小行星的發現者有給其命名的權利,因此,數以千計的行星都是以同一個人或一座城市的名字命名。前者有時是天文學同儕,但大多數是畫家、作家、音樂家或作曲家。幾年前,與我素未謀面的荷蘭同事Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld 提議把主帶小行星10968 以我的名字命名。其軌道資料和以Java程式語言驅動的軌道圖可在噴氣推進實驗室的網站上找到。

可以請您分享一些您研究領域內(變星和慧星的測光)近期令人期待的進展嗎?

現代成像探測器效能非常高,能從太空觀測站(如哈伯望遠鏡)採集很多新的數據。其中引人入勝的方面是新數據可以與幾十年前所採集的數據相結合,這意味著品質好的舊數據如今可以應用在現代分析中,這是以前的觀察者無法想象到的。一個生動的例子是之前提到的van Houten-Groeneveld博士。她的丈夫Kees van Houten于1965-1978年在南非收集了不少觀測數據。在丈夫逝世後她將數據整理好,並發表了一篇數據論文。此論文對後續的調查扮演了重要的角色,詳情請見13蝕雙星V BLUW測光

給作者的建議:
  • 避免使用您的母語撰寫稿件,然後將其翻譯為英語。正確的方法是直接用英語寫作,事後校對語法。
  • 使用軟體的拼寫檢查功能。
  • 提交稿件前記得詳細校對數次,並要求一位研究伙伴互相閱讀彼此的論文。
Contributors
What makes a good manuscript, tips for ESL authors, and more!

Belgian astronomer, Christiaan Sterken, holds an MSc in Mathematics (University of Ghent), a PhD in Astronomy (University of Brussels), a Habilitation degree (University of Liege), and is Guest Professor at Department of Physics, University of Brussels, where he currently teaches History of Natural Sciences. He held the Sarton Chair of History of Science at the University of Ghent in 2006-2007, and is an Erskine Fellow holder at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand in 2014. He is Emeritus Research Director at the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research.

Author of more than 200 highly cited scientific papers (Scopus), author of two monographs, and editor/co-editor for about two dozen books, Dr. Sterken has extensive editorial experience. Also, he founded the Editorial Board of the Information Bulletin for Variable Stars and served as its President (1991-1997); he established the Scientific Writing for Young Astronomers School (2008); and he was the Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. Dr. Sterken is the co-founder and Editor ofThe Journal of Astronomical Data, an Open-Access on-line astronomical journal. He is currently a member of the European Association of Science Editors (EASE) Council. His native language is Dutch and he is fluent in English, French, German, and Spanish.

What led to the foundation of the Scientific Writing for Young Astronomers School? Why did you feel the necessity of conducting such a course?

In 2005, I co-edited the Proceedings of a workshop for PhD students, and I was appalled by the poor quality of some of the submitted manuscripts. I published a short paper entitled Advice on Writing a Scientific Paper, which was voted by the students as "the most useful paper" of the meeting. This led to the organisation of the first and second of a series of scientific writing schools.

Given your experience as an editor for over 20 years and a regular author of high quality papers—your PhD paper (Light variations of extreme galactic B- and A supergiants) of 38 years ago is still cited today—can you tell us what you think are the characteristics of a good manuscript? In other words, what makes a manuscript publication worthy?

A good manuscript, first of all, should present new – thus not previously published – results, and should be well written, i.e., it should have a fluent narrative, be concise and at the same time complete, have good graphics, and also be correct in the citing of work of other scientists. Needless to say, a manuscript with typographical errors never is a good manuscript.

As you know, members of the scientific community are always under pressure to publish. You have been on the Editorial Board of several international journals. Can you give us a view as an editor of the concerns or pressures you face every day?

The main pressure is time pressure: authors want their manuscripts published as soon as possible after acceptance. But every stage of the publishing process takes time: identifying referees, checking their reports, verifying the author’s revised manuscript, organising a second refereeing round if necessary, etc.

The peer review process is one of the cornerstones of academic publishing. Most of us have an idea about how the system works. However, as an editor, what are some of the complications in the peer review process that you have to deal with?

The peer review process is a quality-control method that relies on the evaluation of the submitted manuscript by one or more external experts (mostly anonymous). It should be well understood that the final decision is made by the Editor, and that the referee’s role, in principle, is advisory only. Referees are helpful in detecting errors of all kinds, and quite often provide valuable suggestions to improve the manuscript. The typical problems that arise from time to time are finding a good referee, because scientific colleagues are all under time pressure, and sometimes they are not able to produce a referee report in due time. Another problem that arises from time to time, is “conflict of interest” when a referee happens to be a direct competitor. Anyway, refereed papers are, in general, of higher quality than non-refereed papers.

How do journal editors typically become aware of potential “conflict of interest” between referees and authors and handle such scenarios?

Conflict of interest is not easy to detect. Sometimes pungent language in the referee report may hint at a possible conflict of interest. Another symptom can be excessively long reviewing times. The best way to know is to consult a bibliometric database: if the referee and the author share many papers, then the Editor must look out. Many journals ask referees to sign a declaration that there is no conflict of interest involved. I have myself turned down at least a dozen invitations to referee just to avoid the problem.

As an editor, you must be passionate about publishing ethically. However, you would definitely agree that there is a fine line between purposeful breach of ethics and unintentional error. How does a journal identify instances of author misconduct?

Author misconduct occurs in many forms: for example, plagiarism, or submitting the same manuscript to several journals at the same time. Fortunately, plagiarism-detection software today is so powerful that we can easily identify those ethical breaches. And, quite often, the referee also detects plagiarism.

What is your take on English being the preferred language for scientific communication?

English is now the lingua franca in scientific communication, and the advantages of using one global language are greater than the disadvantages of using multiple languages. There are two reasons why publishing in English is necessary:

  1. many more people can read your paper than would be the case if you publish in your own language, and
  2. the pool of referees becomes larger.

There are disadvantages too of course: non-native English speaking people have to learn to write in a foreign language, and that learning process takes time. Another aspect is that the English used in scientific communication is not standardised: there are many variants of English (there are also differences between UK and US English), to which is added the local jargon of the specific scientific discipline.

The main-belt asteroid 10968 Sterken (4393 T-1), we believe, has been named after you. Could you throw some light on how that came to be?

In between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter are hundreds of thousands minor planets. There is a tradition among astronomers that the discoverer of an asteroid has the right to give it a name. As such, thousands of planets have received the name of a person – sometimes a colleague, but quite often a painter, writer, musician or composer – or of a city. Several years ago, my Dutch colleague Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld (whom I never met) nominated me for naming the main-belt asteroid 10968. Orbital information and a JAVA-powered orbit diagram is available at Jet Propulsion Laboratory's site.

For astronomy enthusiasts and others who are curious about your field of study, could you share some developments that you are most excited about in your main field of interest—photometry of variable stars and comets?

The very efficient modern imaging detectors produce a huge harvest of new data, especially from space observatories like the Hubble Telescope. One of the fascinating aspects of these new data is that many of them can be combined with data collected decades ago. That means that older data of good quality now can serve modern analysis in ways that the observer never could have dreamt of. A telling example is exactly the case with Dr. van Houten-Groeneveld, mentioned above: after her husband Kees van Houten passed away, she prepared the observations that he had collected from 1965 till 1978 in South Africa, and published a data paper that will be very useful for future investigations see, V BLUW Photometry of 13 Eclipsing Binary Stars.

A word of advice for authors…
  • Never write a manuscript in your mother language, and then translate it: the proper method is to write directly in English, and correct the syntax afterwards.
  • Use a spell checker.
  • Proofread your manuscript several times before submission, and ask a befriended colleague to read your paper(s) and vice versa.
Contributors