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The advantage of a well-written research paper

Shawn Maloney, PhD on February 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

In my experience working with thousands of non-native English-speaking researchers, I have observed that there are a number of reasons why publishers tend to prefer manuscripts written by these two types of authors. First, well-written papers can capture the reader’s attention, so journal editors are more likely to send clearly communicated works on for peer review. If you have conducted novel or innovative research, your manuscript might not get published if your writing is unclear. The rationale behind this is that your message might get lost, and as a result, your important work may never reach the peer review stage. On the other hand, if your data are not groundbreaking, but you are able to convey your arguments, methods, and findings in a clear and intuitive way, your manuscript will make a lasting impact on the publisher’s editorial team, increasing your chances of being considered for peer review.

Once your manuscript is in the hands of the reviewers, your clearly written text will work to your advantage. The job of the peer reviewer is to critically analyze the content of the paper to determine whether or not your paper merits publication. The task is made increasingly more difficult when the reviewer is unsure about the message or data an author is trying to convey due to poor grammar, word choices, or flow. Therefore, even if your paper makes it through to the peer review stage, you can tip the scale in your favor — toward publication — by ensuring that your message is clearly delivered.

This is not to say that papers will not make it to the “acceptance” stage if they are not grammatically perfect. Many publishers – including Dove – provide copyediting services for accepted manuscripts at no additional charge to the authors. This means that once your paper has been accepted, it will pass through many layers of screening. If some light editing is needed to ensure that your work is clearly written and showcased appropriately, Dove staff will take care of that for you. However, some manuscripts require a bit more than light proofreading and editing to get noticed by a publisher.

How can you increase your chances of getting published if you find that your written English needs some help? One option would be to find resources that will essentially try to teach you to “learn” the intricacies of the English language. But isn’t your time better spent conducting research? If you answered, “yes,” I would recommend that you seek other avenues for support. If you find that you need assistance preparing your manuscript, reach out to your university’s writing center, or contact journals directly for their recommendations. Many publishers know of additional services — internal or external — that can facilitate manuscript preparation, which can help polish your writing so it is publication-ready.

The final touches made to your manuscript are far more important than most authors realize, especially because published papers that are well-written are more likely to be read, cited, and well-received. Journal editors want to receive submissions that present great research, and most publishers will provide you with some level of guidance to help level the playing field for non-native English-speaking researchers.


Shawn Maloney
President, Journal Prep




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