Conference Proceedings: papers or reports?
Meetings which scholars attend as peers (conferences, congresses, symposia etc.) have several functions such as reporting/hearing about new research, meeting and getting to know fellow scholars, strengthening social cohesion within a disciplinary community and, for beginners, facilitating acceptance into the community.
In many established disciplines, good methodology and minimum innovation are a prerequisite for acceptance of papers in scholarly meetings. In TS, for well known historical and environmental reasons, many colleagues have not had the required training to produce excellent papers. If only papers with solid methodology and innovative content were accepted at TS conferences, this could encourage demanding scholars to participate and be beneficial to the overall scholarly level and reputation of the discipline. However, such a policy would also deny integration and learning opportunities to newcomers who may be isolated in their home universities, and could slow down the ‘social’ and institutional development of Translation Studies. If, on the other hand, screening policy is less strict in terms of scholarly quality, many presentations may turn out to have little scholarly value, and the examples which beginners will see and presumably follow will not be the best.
Are there solutions to the dilemma?
A relatively lenient selection of papers for oral presentation followed by a
strict selection policy when publishing the proceedings might be an acceptable
compromise. This however can induce much frustration among those participants
whose papers are rejected, especially in view of the fact that many of them
seem to expect publication of their papers as an integral part of the whole operation.
Moreover, organizers of TS conferences, which as often as not are meant to give
more visibility and a good reputation to the host university
or department, can be reluctant to disappoint participants. One possible
alternative might be to move gradually from the present system of paper-based
conference proceedings to report-based proceedings, i.e. sets of reports on
each session and workshop, prepared by the Chairs and/or rapporteurs
rather than by individual participants (examples can be found in the proceedings
Would such a development be positive?
Gambier, Yves, Daniel Gile and Christopher Taylor (eds). 1997. Conference Interpreting: Current Trends in Research. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John Benjamins. (Proceedings of a conference on interpreting held in Turku in 1994)