Articles

In support of scientific editing

Dr Elisabeth Brunier, a UTC lecturer cum research scientist has been Delegate General for the Roberval Prize since 2013. One of the fundamental objectives of this event is to defend French language publications (in a wide connotation) inasmuch as the threat from digital on line supports and the omniscience of English are real.

In support of scientific editing

Apart from the Roberval Prize pre-selection process and the laureate awards ceremony, conferences are also regularly organized about the publications and media that cover technology-intensive topics.

UTC’s Delegate General for the Roberval Prize chaired a session in March 2016 on scientific edition at the Brussels Book Fair and on this occasion was able to exchange with editors and academics from Belgium and Switzerland about the specific difficulties encountered in this sector. The University Presses of Liege, Namur and Brussels, long standing partners to our event, were present. The Presses polytechniques et universitaires romandes whose publication « La physique autour de nous – de l’observation à l’innovation » [Physics around us – from observation to innovation »] was the 2016 laureate for the Higher Education category, were there too. Whereas TV programmes are quite common among the Belgian candidates, it was nonetheless a good opportunity to make the Prize better known among Belgian editors.

The language was one of the questions raised by our French speaking neighbours. As Delegate General Bruner sees it, support for French language scientific edition goes beyond the purely cultural aspects. “In order to explain complex scientific notions, it is important to be able to use all the nuances of one’s mother tongue.” It was attempted for just one edition of the Prize, the example being some books for young people translated into French. “An English language book translated into French had lots of mistakes and lacked precision, “lost” during the translation”.

 From an economic point of view, the state observed is somewhat alarming even if each year the selection committees receive high-quality books vying for the Prize. But students tend increasingly to consult publications on-line and the unit prize of the book format has become too expensive for them and their limited budget. At the institutional level, publication of a book is not highly rated in assessment of an academic career. The HE Roberval Prize category therefore is especially relevant to valorising the work of university professors. “Reference manuals are often published near the end of a long and rich experience with the students and thus represent high level pedagogical tools”, she insists. The future of scientific publications may also lie outside lecture-halls. Beyond academia, the Delegate enjoys recalling that the Roberval Prize has a commitment to the public at large. Dissemination of science and technologies lies at the heart of the challenges even though lot still remains to be done in this area.

In contradistinction to other purely scientific prizes, the UTC Roberval Prize focuses on technologies, an ever-present question ion our societies today but still distant from general public concerns. Progress here is visible and the attractiveness of the Prize is growing every year. “The Roberval Prize award ceremony at Compiegne’s prestigious Imperial Theatre has increased its attendance year by year and, in addition, this year’s General Public author and Roberval Prize laureate and media heart-throb enjoyed excellent sales figures”, adds Elisabeth Brunier, the ceremony’s organizer and Master of Ceremonies. There are grounds to imagine that more French speaking authors will feel motivated to participate in this international event.