In this blog I will talk about some of the essential skills and attributes needed for editors, especially those specializing in academic texts in the humanities and social sciences.

  • An excellent grasp of the source language. It goes without saying that the translator needs to have mastered their source language, but this is true of the editor too. A deep understanding of the source language allows the editor to follow the intricacies of the author’s argument and ensure that the translator has stayed on track.
  • An up-to-date understanding of trends in your target language. As an editor, it is hugely important to follow any evolutions in your target language (e.g., more gender-inclusive language). One way of doing this is by following various blogs and social media accounts, such as the AP Style Blog.
  • A solid grounding in the humanities and social sciences. At Cadenza, we deal with texts from a wide range of disciplines. As such, it is impossible for us editors to be experts in every area. However, a firm understanding of the research methods, concepts, and theories specific to the humanities and social sciences allows one to quickly get to grips with unfamiliar subjects.
  • Strong research skills. Research skills are absolutely vital for all editors, especially those working in the humanities and social sciences. You need to be able to find reliable parallel texts (e.g., another work by the same author or another article published in the same journal) in order to gain a better understanding of the subject area, giving you the confidence to make any necessary changes.
  • Confidence is not an easy thing to train, but it is just as important as any other skill. As an editor, you need to have the self-assuredness to make any changes you believe are necessary in order to produce a clearer, more accurate target text. However, beware of overconfidence and know when to leave the text untouched. It is always worth asking yourself why you’re making a certain change.
  • Communication skills. Finally, the ability to communicate clearly and efficiently is paramount. In order to produce the most accurate target text, the editor will often need to liaise with the translator, the author, or even another editor. Editing is not a one-way street!

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This blog post was based on part of a talk entitled ‘The Journey of an Academic Translation’ given by the Cadenza team at the Exeter Translation! Festival in May 2022. Please see our blog post from June 2022 for the full talk.