MQ-Biotext partnership: Rich with opportunities

MQ-Biotext partnership: Rich with opportunities

Emeritus Professor Pam Peters

Emeritus Professor Pam Peters

A dynamic partnership between Macquarie University’s Department of Linguistics and the Canberra-based publishing company Biotext is being forged as the foundation for a multifaceted initiative in commercial, research and training activities, focusing especially on style and accessible communication.

The commercial component begins with the transfer to Macquarie University of a well-developed online style manual for scientific writers and editors, called the Australian Manual of Scientific Style (AMOSS). The 350-page online manual was developed over the last three years by Biotext’s scientifically trained staff, led by Dr Richard Stanford. Through the agreement with Biotext, Macquarie University will become the co-publisher of AMOSS and collaborate in its further development; an endeavour that will be led by Emeritus Professor Pam Peters. The revenue from individual and institutional subscriptions to AMOSS will be shared, in line with the volume of existing and new material created.

In association with AMOSS, a new multi-purpose platform will be designed by Access Macquarie for Macquarie University, to be called the Australian Style Hub. As its name suggests, it will support multiple products relating to both general and specialist written styles, so as to become the first port-of-call for those nitty-gritty issues of language. The Australian Style newsletter will again be accessible through it, as a vehicle for exchanging research and observations on current usage, and conducting language surveys across Australia. The Australian Style Hub opens a fresh chapter in Macquarie University’s long involvement in references on Australian language and style -- in dictionary-making with the Macquarie Dictionary, and contributions to the last three editions of the Australian Government Style Manual. The Australian Style Hub will also support the multilingual online termbanks (TermFinder™) developed by Macquarie Linguistics staff to provide accessible information on specialised terminology for the general public, including terms in family law (LawTermFinder) and in cancer medicine and health care (HealthTermFinder).

When it comes to making recommendations on style, usage and accessibility, Biotext and Macquarie University both take seriously the need for empirical research. A series of experimental studies is being undertaken by Professor Jan-Louis Kruger, Head of the Department of Lingustics, at Macquarie to establish the different levels of accessibility involved in accessing information in online websites, to put flesh on the bones of the existing standards of web accessibility. Media Access Australia will be a further partner in this, to ensure that the needs of those with a disability are accommodated in empirically enhanced approaches to information design. The results of this research will be synthesised for publication as a further product of the Australian Style Hub. They will also inform Macquarie’s own training courses in accessible communication and external workshops, as well as webinars to be accessed through the Australian Style Hub.

Pam Peters and Jan-Louis Kruger

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