Newsletter No. 322

第322期 2008年9月4日 No. 322 4 September 2008 (Continued) Department of Japanese Studies in the afternoon. All things being equal, I try to arrange the order in which I edit papers so that I get that sense of variety. Much of the research, even for a layman such as myself, is also genuinely interesting. You are always learning something new.’ Being a scholar by background, David also enjoys working with people from different Faculties. He tries to meet his clients for lunch as often as possible, as getting to know the people behind the ideas makes editing their research more interesting the next time round. Putting Quality in Technical Writing Formulae that inspire poetry in mathematicians often leave most people cold because the technical vocabulary gets in the way of understanding. David admits that research from the medical and science Faculties used to make him nervous, but he soon learnt that editors do not need to understand all the technical details to be able to judge the writing in which they are embedded. ‘As you gain experience, you begin to see in certain medical, scientific approaches, the same procedures being applied by different researchers. And you develop the sense that, yes, this seems to be all right…. So you focus on the significance of the project and the logical development of the argument, and take the technical details on trust.’ But do researchers mind having red ink scrawled all over their Gauss-Bonnet Theorem by someone who presumably does not know his Gauss-Bonnet from his Charles Bonnet? Not very often, in David’s experience. ‘When I send a paper back, I normally start by saying what I thought was impressive about it. I also warn the author not to be alarmed at the amount of red ink, as in many cases my amendments are fairly minor improvements of style or grammar. In general, I’ve found that the better the researchers, the more grateful they are. It’s an interesting paradox. Star researchers are often the most appreciative.’ And there is certainly a keen demand for academic editing at CUHK, in David’s opinion. ‘When I issued a circular in late March setting out my stall, I was flooded by requests for editing in the next two or three days, and several researchers wrote to say how happy they were that the University now had an academic editor.’ Creative Diversions By way of relaxation, David indulges his interest in history by putting the finishing touches to his second book Blood-Red Roses , the first full-length account in English of the Sino-French War of 1884-5. And he occasionally seeks stimulus of a more energetic kind. If you ever spot our Academic Editor in white shirt and white trousers, adorned with brightly-coloured ribbons and bells below his knees, and wielding a stick which he uses to strike that of a similarly dressed partner, do not be startled. He is a member of the Hong Kong Morris, an English folk dancing team established in 1974, which organizes dance-outs once a month in idyllic spots in the New Territories. He can also play a mean tune on the concertina, and has released two CDs with his former folk band in the UK, Three Pressed Men. In August, he took a much-needed break to visit his parents and friends in England and recharge his batteries before the annual September GRF exercise. As he had expected, his inbox was flooded with requests for editing when he came back. Yet he says, ‘I can see myself doing this up to and beyond my retire- ment.’ If anyone is cut out for his job, it’s David Wilmshurst. 一夫当关 的 学术编辑——温肃智博士 中文大学有过千名研究人员,当中有些著作甚丰, 但学术编辑只有一位。研究人员撰写的研究资助 申请书,有些涉及以百万元计的款额;他们的研究 论文篇幅动辄够得上亨利 • 詹姆士的短篇小说。 学术编辑要确保这些文字的水平,委实任重道远。 实际上,单凭一人之力,这可能吗? 答案是可能的。不过,你必须精于此道。 温肃智博士便有这样的本领。 学者政务官 温肃智受的是历史学训练,拥有牛津大学的古典文学士学 位,以及东方研究的哲学博士学位,能阅读中文,几种古今 的欧洲语言也应付裕如。他曾任香港政府的政务官十三年, 拟写政策建议,也曾在台湾为《台湾经济新闻》撰述和编译 商业文章,又为中央研究院编校研究论文,由此初涉学术 编辑的工作。所以,当香港大学在2002年招聘学术编辑时, 他便欣然应聘。五载后,更转投中大的青葱校园。 除了扎实的履历,温肃智还有一项免他陷于文山卷海的能 耐,那就是干脆利落的时间管理。「权衡缓急轻重,是我 工作中最重要的一环。我列出工作清单,每日修订次序, 力求控制我的时间。不过,有时我得草拟研究政策文件, 那便得专心致志,优先把这个处理好。」学术编辑典型的 一天是这样的:检查电邮,看看编辑工作的需求,平均一 日会接到两三宗。一份三十页、写得上佳的研究论文,只 需一天便可润饰完毕;写得不那麽好的,要修改两至三 天;需大规模重写的,便得耗上好几天。 经验老到如温肃智,应付流量稳定的研究论文当然问题不 大,但修改资助申请书却是另外一回事了。每过两三个 月,尤其是每年九、十月角逐研究用途补助金(CERG) 的申请期间,他便会淹没在申请书的洪流中。「中大去年 递交了近五百份CERG建议书。在港大,每年九月初至十 月中,我最多可以编辑六十份申请。可想而知在完成这一 轮工作后,我是如何的心力交瘁。这种不正常的需求是可 预知的,最好能够找点办法应付。我正在探讨是否可以在 来年的CERG或者现称的GRF(优配研究金)申请期间, 物色一些自由身编辑,尽量帮忙。至于高峰期以外的研究 论文,我通常可以应付得来。」 铺天盖地 尽是期限 一位教授花了好几个月,力求把其芬斯勒几何论文写得尽 善尽美,他期望学术编辑快快把英文稿子批改妥当,绝 撰写资助申请书的窍门 「摘要最重要,应包含四个元素:研究计划的目 的、背景、简述及研究的重要性。简述的部分必 须简而清,应不多于整份摘要的四分之一,研究 的重要性才是关键。为什么重要?为什么值得资 助?很多研究员长篇大论描述计划,却未能点出 研究的重要性。既然现在要拿钱,那就需要在摘 要里清楚告诉人家为什么你的计划值得资助。」 给落空者的忠告 「第一次没成功,再接再厉吧!花了 几个星期写的申请书不获接纳,当然 会气馁,但不要放弃。我很乐意看看 你的申请书,告诉你怎样可以把它改 善。我们都有进步的空间,如果悉力 以赴的话,也都可以更上层楼。所 以,就让我们明年再试一遍。」 对情有可原。事实上,温肃智说大部分同事都很有耐性和 合情合理。「通常我会告诉研究人员需时多久才可校阅完 毕,虽然那不会是第二天的事,但他们大都会接受。就好 像这个星期,已有五位研究员隔天便给我电邮说:『抱歉 打扰您,不过,可否告诉我两周前给您的看的研究论文进 度如何?』」我解释说正忙于看一批赶在本周内送交研资 局的补助金申请书,恳求他们宽限几天,他们都很体谅。 我想他们也明白我是在以一敌百吧。」 工作量如泰山压顶,是什么令温肃智目不释卷?「这份工 作最有趣的地方是它的多姿多采。你可能早上还在看一份 有关乳癌病人如何补充营养的医学院研究,到了下午便要 处理日本研究学系一份日本人眼中的中华料理的论文。在 不影响效率的前提下,我会刻意把工作安排得有点变化。 对于大部分的研究,外行如我,都会觉得饶富趣味。你总 会学到一些新鲜事儿。」学者背景令他喜爱和不同学科的 人共事。他也时常约委托他审稿的同事见面吃饭,见其人 如见其文,了解对方多一点,下回校阅他们的作品时也就 更有乐趣。 讲求技术文字的水平 方程式犹如数学家灵感的甘泉,却叫大部分人敬而远之, 因为技术词汇往往妨碍理解。温肃智承认以前医学院和理 学院的研究会令他紧张不已,不过,他很快便明白,编辑 并不需要理解所有技术细节才可判断装载这些内容的文字 的优劣。「随着经验累积,你会发现在某些医学和科学的 领域内,不同的研究员都在采用同样的手法和步骤。慢慢 你的触觉便会形成——嗯,这个该没错……。这样便可对 技术细节一万个放心,而专注于研究计划的重要性、当中 论据的逻辑发展。」 但是,学者眼看自己的高 斯定理论文给一个大抵连 高斯与高达也区分不来的 人批满红字地退回来,会 介意吗?温肃智表示倒不常 见。「发还文稿时,我总 是先说写得好的地方。我 也会叫作者不要被满纸红 字吓倒,因为我的改动大 多是一些风格或文法上的 细节。通常愈棒的研究人员愈懂得感激,这真是吊诡。」 中大对学术编辑服务的需求也真够大的,据温肃智说: 「我在三月底摆好摊子,发出通告,不出两三天,查询便 像雪片飞来。好几位研究员来电邮说,大学现在有了学术 编辑,真叫人高兴。」 创意支流 公余,温肃智埋首整理他的第二本著作 B l o od - Red Roses ——首部以英文写成的足本中法战争(1884-5)历 史。此外,如果读者碰到我们的学术编辑身穿缀着彩带和 铃子的白衣白裤,手挥棒子和同伴互相击打,不要惊讶, 温肃智正是「香港古代舞团」的成员。这个英国土风舞团 于1974年创立,每个月都在新界作户外表演。他还会玩 一种六角形手风琴,曾经在英国和他的民族乐队灌录过两 张唱片呢。温肃智在八月曾回英国探望父母和朋友,也趁 机充电,准备迎接每年九月的优配研究金申请冲刺。回来 后,一如他所料,邮箱已被编校的要求塞得满泻。尽管如 此,他说:「我预见自己会一直干这个差事,直到退休, 甚至退休之后。」若果说,有些人天生是要干某个行业 的,那准是温肃智无疑。

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