|Addenda: What motivated you to serve in this role?
Bruce: As an editor, I see how excellent scholars are disadvantaged simply because their native language is not English. Even though I am reasonably competent in Spanish and French, having to write professional papers in those languages would be an enormous challenge for me. Thus I have great empathy for academics who have to publish in a non-native language. Even after making considerable efforts to learn English vocabulary and grammar, they are likely to have journals tell them to have their manuscript improved by an English-speaking editor before it can be published. And I know how much that costs, as I have edited hundreds of such papers for two editing services.
So when I heard that the Society wanted to make high-quality English editing services available free to Christian scholars all over the world, I enthusiastically offered to help in any way I could.
Addenda: What do you find most satisfying about this work?
Bruce:I do volunteer editing for an international student ministry in my home city of Pittsburgh. I recall a Colombian medical student trying to get a research paper published. The content was strong and well organized, but the English was weak. In two to three hours, I was able to remove the only obstacle to the paper’s publication. Within a few weeks, the student e-mailed me excitedly to say that the paper had been accepted. That’s what I find rewarding.
I was able to assist in that way even though I don’t know much about medical research. In fields that I do know well, in addition to editing the English I engage with the author’s arguments and can often suggest substantive ways to improve the content. In this way, I can enable others to communicate their knowledge or their message effectively to the desired audience.
Addenda: What exactly do you do that makes such a difference? Couldn’t a journal editor correct spelling and grammar errors?
Bruce: When a submission is rejected due to inadequate English, the problems are usually deeper than spelling and grammar. Typically, the article contains passages that, due to language-related errors, are ambiguous or even uninterpretable. Journal editors don’t have time to deal with those problems, so if they see a few sentences that don’t make sense, they reject the paper.
A caring editor can take the time to explain the problems, correspond with the author to determine what he or she intends to say, and then rewrite the problematic passages in proper English. Then the paper will be judged strictly on its academic value.
Addenda:What can Society members expect when they ask for editing help?
Bruce:We have assembled a team of about 10 experienced scholars with expertise in a wide range of fields. Each submission will be read initially by a team member familiar with the member’s discipline, and then I will read the manuscript from an editorial perspective. If we think the paper is not ready for publication, we will give suggestions on how to improve it. If it does seem ready for submission to a journal, we will edit it into good English.
Addenda: How do you think that this undertaking will advance the kingdom of God?
Bruce:I think that enabling Christian scholars around the world to communicate their ideas more effectively in English will have a powerful impact. I also hope that our editorial services can be a sort of evangelistic tool. I think that many people who are not believers will be impressed to hear that English-speaking Christian editors care so much about the success of their brothers and sisters in other countries that they edit papers for free.