Machine Translation and Self-post-editing for Academic Writing Support: Quality Explorations

  • Sharon O’BrienEmail author
  • Michel Simard
  • Marie-Josée Goulet
Part of the Machine Translation: Technologies and Applications book series (MATRA, volume 1)


Scholars who need to publish in English and who have English as a Foreign Language might consider and already be deploying free online MT engines to aid their writing processes. This raises the obvious question of whether MT is actually a useful aid for academic writing and what impact it might have on the quality of the written product. The work described in this chapter attempts to address these two broad questions. After a brief introduction, Sect. 2 reviews literature on three topics: English as a lingua franca in academic writing and the consequences this might have for individual authors and for academic disciplines, second-language writing, and the use of MT as a second-language writing aid. In Sect. 3, the methodology is presented. As will be detailed, the experiment involved ten participants, who were asked to write an abstract in their field of expertise. One half of the text was written in English, while the other half was written in their L1 and then machine-translated into English. Section 4 describes the results: subjective feedback of the participants acquired through a post-task survey, revision activity of a professional reviser, number and types of errors identified by a grammar-checking tool. The results suggest that MT and self-post-editing did not impact negatively on the text produced. However, the participants were divided in their opinions about which task was easier and whether they would consider using MT again for academic writing support. In Sect. 5, we offer a discussion on those results and provide future research ideas.


Translation quality assessment Principles to practice English as a foreign language Machine translation Post-editing Second-language writing support Self-post-editing Academic writing 



This project was partly funded by the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, which is funded under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme (Grant 13/RC/2106) and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon O’Brien
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michel Simard
    • 2
  • Marie-Josée Goulet
    • 3
  1. 1.ADAPT Centre/School of Applied Language and Intercultural StudiesDublin City UniversityDublinIreland
  2. 2.National Research CouncilOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Université du Québec en OutaouaisGatineauCanada

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