METM18: a review by Iria del Río

Last year I invited two METM attendees – a newbie and a veteran – to write a review of METM17, the 13th Mediterranean Editors & Translators Meeting. This year, I’m delighted to pass the baton to METM18 keynote speaker, Iria del Río, who has kindly agreed to share her experience with us. Over to you, Iria:

Earlier this year, I was pleased to receive an invitation from MET to deliver a keynote speech and facilitate a workshop at METM18, in my role as a Council member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). I’d already met some attendees at a Madrid chapter lunch back in June, but I was still very much a “green-spot” newbie at the conference, as you could see on my badge. Fortunately, METMs are cosy affairs with a small crowd of participants and a relaxed atmosphere (which also explains why this conference is also called a meeting). Even on the train journey from Madrid to Girona, I was touched by how warmly my fellow travellers greeted each other, and I felt their contagious excitement as they exchanged hugs, catch-ups and expectations for the coming days.

The conference was held in Girona, a compact city that is easy to navigate. And this location certainly added to the big-family feeling because many of us were within walking distance of the venue, Centre Cultural La Mercè, a 14th-century convent turned military hospital and latterly, arts centre. Its picturesque cloister provided plenty of space and fresh air for refreshments and informal discussions.

Before reviewing the conference itself, let me mention the Off-METM events. These are fringe activities, but clearly popular as ice-breakers and networking opportunities. On my first night, I’d signed up for a dinner with a few colleagues on the theme of “Why wouldn’t you want to be acknowledged for your work?”, hosted by Jackie Senior. We had fun deciphering the Catalan menu, but the real challenge came for me, the only native Spanish speaker at the table, to spot options for our vegetarian diners. Over our meal, we exchanged views on acknowledgement – not only our dinner topic but also the main theme of METM18 – and most of us agreed that the number one reason for refusing acknowledgment is because we don’t always see the final version of a text before publication.

Off-METM table: “Why wouldn’t you want to be acknowledged for your work?”
[photo by an Off-METM waiter]

Other Off-METM events included a choir singing in English and Catalan, which I would have loved to have joined, and a yoga session. I’m more used to biomedical congress formats with tightly scheduled meetings and plenaries, and I can’t help smiling when I picture my cardiologists in their finest attire, stethoscopes at the ready, performing their sun salutations… yet what could be better for networking, reducing stress and re-energising minds and bodies?

METM proper
Moving on to the core content, I thoroughly enjoyed Iain Patten’s interactive workshop on “Righting citing”. We tackled a series of exercises in pairs, with Iain providing valuable insights and other participants weighing in with their experience, too. Much food for thought.

“Righting citing” workshop
[photo by METM18 photographer, Cesc Anadón]

Anne Murray’s session on “Corpus building and mining in the real world: an introduction for the uninitiated” opened my eyes to a new approach to translation. As the editorial director of the bilingual journal Revista Española de Cardiología, published in Spanish and English, I’m fortunate to count on a great team of translators, including several MET members. The clarifications they ask for when translating the 70% of papers submitted in Spanish astonish me because they pick up details that we’ve overlooked in the Spanish editing process. Learning about corpus-guided translation and editing with Sketch Engine and AntConc has helped me appreciate our translators’ meticulous work and the added value they bring to the journal.

On Friday morning, I switched roles from attendee to trainer, giving a workshop entitled “Delve into COPE cases” to a small, well-versed group of translators and editors. The small size is by design, to make sure learning is really hands-on. I gave a brief introduction to COPE and its resources, and then we split into three groups. With their journal editor hats on, participants tackled cases that questioned authorship, peer-review and post-publication corrections. Along the way, we discussed issues such as plagiarism, criteria for authorship and the legal implications of licensing and copyright, giving participants new insights into and confidence with ethical issues in academic publishing.






(Sticky notes of case studies and achievements, COPE workshop.
Click photos to enlarge.)

“Delve into COPE cases” workshop
[photo by Iria del Río]

I’m an outsider to translation, but Daniel Hahn’s keynote speech “In praise of editors (the translator’s view)” was poetry to my ears. I loved taking a back seat and watching the radiant faces in the audience as Daniel worked his linguistic magic. People hung onto his every word – every 6000 of them, apparently!

The following morning, I felt at home delivering my keynote speech “Credit and merit: toward a transparent, ethical publishing culture”. I was delighted to be introduced by founder member Mary Ellen Kerans as “one of the MET fold”, and although Mary Ellen was referring to my background in English language studies and journalism, I’d also interpret it as a sense of belonging. In my talk, I reviewed past and present notions of authorship and contributorship, highlighted their non-universal nature, pointed out relevant guidelines, standards and resources, and discussed how they differ across disciplines. I kept my speech short, won a few smiles and received warm applause. After the plenary itself, we had plenty of time for questions and discussion, including an exchange on ways in which underrepresented translators could be credited.

I would like to thank MET, and particularly Anne Murray and Mary Ellen Kerans, for inviting me to speak at the Girona MET meeting where I was able to learn first-hand about this unique association. I’m also grateful to Emma Goldsmith for giving me the chance to blog about my experience and for polishing my English writing.

Iria del Río is a member of the Council of COPE – the Committee on Publication Ethics, an international organization that advises and educates editors about ethical practices. Iria’s involvement with COPE is a natural outcome of her responsibilities as Editorial Director (since 2008) of Revista Española de Cardiología (REC), the official journal of the Spanish Society of Cardiology, which is published online in both Spanish and English. (Excerpt from Iria’s bio for METM18)

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