Proofreading software. Is this the perfect solution?

Proofreading software. Is this the perfect solution?

Proofreading software, like every human invention, is designed to make life easier. The development of technology and artificial intelligence has contributed to the creation of many tools that allow non-native speakers to improve the quality of the written language thanks to software that will perform the so-called proofreading, i.e., text correction. Currently, the most popular application of this type (especially for the English language) is Grammarly.

 

What is Grammarly, or what’s all the fuss about?

Grammarly is a tool for professional language correction of English, which thanks to the built-in functions in real-time indicates spelling, stylistic, grammatical and punctuation errors, and suggests the correct version of the analyzed text, as well as able to check the tone of the speech. The application is also equipped with the function of checking the content for plagiarism.

The popularity of Grammarly has been growing for several years, to such an extent that academic centers around the world recommend its use to their students, PhDs and employees (i.e., University of Silesia, Wrocław University of Economics, and Warsaw University of Technology, as well as the University of Arizona or Iowa State University).

 

Proofreading software ? is it worth trying in scientific texts?

As is usual with commercial software, Grammarly has two versions: 1) free ? basic proofreading and 2) paid ? extended linguistic proofreading. It is the latter that is recommended by universities, but is it worth using this software at all? Przemysław Fidzina (a linguist) analyzed both versions on his blog. He stated that while Grammarly in the free version catches the simplest errors, which, incidentally, will also be detected by MS Word, it gets lost in more complex sentences, but there is no rule here, because the program omitted 5 basic grammatical errors in the sentence: It?s a story dating back to mid-1950?s.

 

Premium version of language proofreading in Grammarly

So does the premium version offer something that the basic version does not? Yes and no. The most interesting option seems to be ?vocabulary enhancement correction?, i.e., the selection of synonyms, better collocations, more precise vocabulary. You can also set the so-called objectives of the text, i.e., whether it is business, informal, etc. The cost is approximately 30$ per month. This version catches more errors, but some of the obvious ones are still not being visible by the software.

 

The examples of what the application cannot seem to deal with:

  1. It?s story date back to middle ? 50ies? -> Its story dates back to mid-50s?
  2. It have been build -> it has been built
  3. Can you know why are there bars ?. -> Do you know why there are
  4. [?] people jumping this building ? -> [?] people jumping off this building ?

proofreading software

Can a proofreading software replace a native speaker (proofreader) in the proofreading of scientific texts?

The premium version of Grammarly finds a few more mistakes than the free version, but the algorithms are not able to catch some of the rather rudimentary ones. Simply put, without even having a somewhat good knowledge of English, it is not advisable to completely entrust the quality of your work to this software, because it does not find all the mistakes, and does not display them. This, in turn, can falsely reassure users and they are unaware that errors remain in their manuscript. Additionally, we found Grammarly can sometimes recommend changes that can actually introduce a linguistic error, for example the ?The role of (the) BDNF in Parkinson?s disease?. In our opinion Grammarly certainly has advantages and can help polish the English of academic texts, but it has limitations outlined above.

As you can see, despite the fact of the advancement of technology, algorithms getting better at this type of task, and machine solutions being strongly promoted by universities, it is not yet time to trust this type of software in 100%. In this respect, a machine is not yet able to replace a human proofreader, a native speaker of a given language.

 

The most effective proofreading of scientific papers

If you want to be sure that the text does not contain any linguistic errors or flaws and will be suitable for publication, it is best to use professional proofreading services, i.e., linguistic proofreading being done by a native speaker. Despite technical advances, it is still the best solution to ensure the highest linguistic quality of the manuscript.

An additional advantage of such a solution in the case of scientific research is that, by selecting the appropriate service, the text can be checked by an active scientist from an academic center in an English-speaking country. Moreover, what the software mentioned above cannot do, which is possible thanks to a proofreader, is to give a manuscript fluency characteristic of a native speaker, as well as the insight of an expert who understands the given research area and makes sure that specialized vocabulary is used. You can find a description of such services at this link.

 

We wish you many successful publications,

eCORRECTOR team

eCORRECTOR’s webinar. “Writing scientific manuscripts ? work smarter, not harder”

eCORRECTOR’s webinar. “Writing scientific manuscripts ? work smarter, not harder”

Last week, on the 21st of April, we held another webinar entitled: “Writing scientific manuscripts ? work smarter, not harder”. It was a huge success and we were really happy to see such a turnaround ? over 70 participants. It was moderated by co-founder and chief editor of eCORRECTOR, Dr. (hab.) Mark J. Hunt, and our main guest, who conducted the entire lecture, was Dr. Suzanne Naser who obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University, USA.

The main purpose of the webinar was to show the attendees the basics of writing scientific papers, how not to lose your mind while doing it, and how to prepare your paper, and present it in the strongest possible way.

Many PhD candidates who participated were issued certificate of attendance which they could attach to their end of year report of their progress.

eCORRECTOR as a proofreading end editing company always try to help authors with the submission of their papers by offering proofreading/editing services or even just by giving some tips and pointers, that is why we want to share with you some highlights from our recent event:

1. Preparing a Manuscript

Help your work/results reach a wide audience and ?push back the scientific frontier? ? sounds corny, but you are all doing this. To do so, tailor your writing to the editor/reviewers, but also the audience/readers ? they will cite it, which brings it to a wider audience.

2. Key Aspects of the Review Process

Editor and Reviewers are asked to consider:

? Relevance ? Within the journal?s scope? Appropriate for the journal?s target audience?

? Novelty ? Contribution to the field (new knowledge or application)? Results reasonably support conclusions?

? Presentation ? Clearly written? Presented according to the journal?s guidelines?

 

Impact factor indicates the number of times the articles in a journal are cited in other studies during a particular period. For example, an impact factor of 3 indicates that each article in the journal was cited 3 times on average during the specified period. It is assumed that an article that is cited many times presents novel, interesting, or important research.

There is no correlation between acceptance/rejection rate and journal impact factor.

3. What Makes a Good Title?

Titles are searchable and the first thing a reader uses to judge whether to keep going. Overly amusing titles – won?t be searchable, could be lost in translation. So you should have it not too short to be descriptive, and not too long to be read or understood. Make it declarative (avoid ?A study of? etc.) and avoid abbreviations, and jargon.

4. Phrasing and Word Choice ? Make it Concise

Avoid too many introductory clauses

× Therefore, as shown in Fig. 3, under alkaline conditions, because of the higher number of active sites, catalyst 2 shows better activity than catalyst 1.

? Therefore, catalyst 2 outperforms catalyst 1 under alkaline conditions because it has more available active sites (Fig. 3).

Parentheses can help!

× It can be seen from Fig 2. that?

? As shown in Figure 2, ?

? Specifically, ? (Fig. 2).

This doesn?t mean you shouldn?t use transitions to help the flow!

? First, second, third, finally. (Not firstly, secondly, thirdly?)

? Furthermore/moreover/overall?

? Therefore/thus/additionally/as a result?

As you can see just from those few highlights, working on a scientific paper is not an easy one, so why not make your life a little bit easier in this department and use some professional help.

Writing scientific manuscripts

You can find out more about our proofreading and editing service here. As for the PhDs who work on your papers, you may find more information about them by visiting this site. Don’t forget to like our Facebook profile and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be in touch with our content!

Advice from our PhD proofreaders and editors: 5 Helpful Writing Tips

Advice from our PhD proofreaders and editors: 5 Helpful Writing Tips

While writing a scientific text, using a specialist PhD proofreading and editing service, such as eCORRECTOR, is the most efficient way of making sure that you submitted manuscript ready for publication. You can find out more about our proofreading and editing service offered by eCORRECTOR here. It is advisable to let someone else read the paper: our minds tend to overlook the logic-related gaps in structures we have created ourselves. Despite our shortcomings, each author can perfect his or her work language-wise by following a few simple steps. Below are some tips, provided by our PhD proofreaders and editors, which authors can immediately use when writing articles. Click here to find out more about our PhD proofreaders and editors who work on your texts.

1. Writing scientific text may be demanding – keep it simple

Keep your writing simple and straightforward. Long sentences with several subordinate clauses often lead to confusion. They may be perfectly clear in your native language, but ambiguous when put into English. It is best to split up such sentences into two or three shorter ones, making sure that the meaning of words such as ?substance? or ?process? is obvious. If there is more than one complex, it is possible to refer to these as ?complex 1?, complex 2?, etc. On the other hand, using only short, single-phrase sentences may seem somewhat immature. This aspect of the text must be balanced ? conjunctions are indispensable when it comes to structuring the flow of thoughts within your publication.

2. Avoid “time travel”

The bulk of a paper, including the experimental methods and results, is generally written in the past tense. Shifting between past and present tenses in the middle of a description should be avoided.

3. Be mindful of your wording ? non-native hardships

Another frequent problem is the misuse of ?made? where ?carried out? or ?run? is needed. For example, ?The experiment was made under both acidic and basic conditions? should in fact be ?The experiment was run (performed) under both acidic and basic conditions.? In English, we make a cake or make a noise, but carry out or run experiments. Many researchers, including senior investigators, also make this mistake when talking about their PhD and say ?when I made my PhD research?, whereas it should be ?when I carried out my PhD research?.

Linking devices must be checked for their function, as it is easy to misguide the reader by using ?furthermore? or ?consequently? in the wrong context.

4. Run your own spell check while writing scientific text

Mixing UK and US English spelling is probably the most common inconsistency, while writing scientific text. This can be improved easily by running a spellcheck in a text editor. This may also identify many other typos or errors in the text. It is also important to keep in mind that in American English, a comma is placed before ?and/or? in lists, the so-called ?serial comma?, which is omitted in British English.

5. Misplaces commas and apostrophes

Misplaced apostrophes, such as in ?Alzheimers? disease? (should be ?Alzheimer?s disease?) or ?Both precipitate?s were?? (should be ?Both precipitates were??), are a common source of misunderstandings. Similarly, in statistics, it should be a ?Student?s t-test? with a capital letter and an apostrophe, since ?Student? was a pseudonym used in research.

When denoting decimals, for Polish readers, a comma (,) is used rather than a decimal point (.). This mistake can be dangerous if the target reader assumes the English manner of writing numbers. Stating ?Carefully add 1,250 g of the unstable catalyst? when this should be 1.250 g, might lead to one thousand two hundred and fifty grams being added, when it should be just one and a quarter. All English-speaking countries use full stops (periods) to separate decimals.writing scientific text

For more tips and advice on academic writing visit our scientist’s library which contains helpful advice on all aspects of writing, including how to respond to reviewers comments. We also encourage you to visit our Facebook profile to be up-to-date with eCORRECTOR’s news.

Meet our editors and proofreaders: Sarah

Meet our editors and proofreaders: Sarah

dr Sarah

Sarah, PhD in history University of St Andrews

As a part of “Meet our editors and proofreaders” series, we interview some of the native speakers who edit and proofread your texts. Today we publish an interview with Sarah, PhD in History, from the University of St Andrews. She discusses her work and provides helpful advice about how to improve your academic writing.

Research interests

eCORRECTOR: What are you researching?
Sarah: I’m researching medieval English law. My main focus is on how cases were argued in court and how legal experts gained their knowledge.

eCORRECTOR: What inspires you about research?
Sarah: I really enjoy getting to read through manuscripts from 800 years ago to try to find out what people were thinking! It makes the Middle Ages seem so much more real.

eCORRECTOR: What is the major scientific challenge, in your field, for this decade?
Sarah: The major challenge to medieval legal history today is that we need to reassess the sources. Most of our scholarship is based on work done in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which focused on institutionalised law and neglected large bodies of local, customary law.

eCORRECTOR: Have you read a breakthrough paper recently?
Sarah: I recently discovered that people in the twelfth century sometimes tried to use their last wills to distribute land (which you can’t legally do in the Middle Ages). This shows that people were willing to experiment with the laws that were available to see what they could get away with.

Golden tips about writing papers

eCORRECTOR: What is your golden piece of advice when writing a paper?
Sarah: Write an outline before your start ? the more detailed, the better! Then you can just fill in the blanks with your research.

eCORRECTOR: What is the most common mistake you notice when you edit/proof papers?
Sarah: Grammatically, the construction “allows to” appears very frequently. In English grammar, words like ?allow? and ?let? have to have a direct object before the infinitive, such as ?this case allows me to examine?? as opposed to ?this case allows to examine??. You can also get around this by saying, ?this case allows for the examination of??, which is just a slightly different construction that lets you avoid the first person. Ridiculous, I know! 

eCORRECTOR: Do you have a presentation/stylistic tip?
Sarah: Use the same font throughout the entire paper, 12 point for the main text and 10 point for the footnotes. It seems like a small thing, but it makes a very big difference to how professional your paper looks.

eCORRECTOR: What example phrase should you use when writing a paper?
Sarah: I’m quite fond of the phrase “X is crucial for our understanding of Y because…” . It makes the point very strongly!

About tools and motivation

eCORRECTOR: How do you get motivated to start writing a paper?
Sarah: I start by organising all my evidence. Once I’ve done that, I can see what kind of an outline I need to write and might even have half of the paper written already!
When I’m having a hard time getting started, I set a timer for 15 minutes. Then, I write as much as I can in that time (even if it’s nonsense) and see what I have. The time limit makes me feel like I am writing for a deadline and doesn’t let me procrastinate.

eCORRECTOR: Can you recommend any app/tool for improving scientific writing?
Sarah: I highly recommend using Zotero or another citation software (Endnote, Mendeley) to do your references. This will ensure that you use the same format throughout and takes care of all the repeat references by automatically using “ibid.” and short-form citations.
Grammarly is also helpful, but the professional version can do more harm than good for non-English speakers, as it does not always understand what you are trying to say and will suggest things that are incorrect.

Academic writing with Springer

Academic writing with Springer

At the end of July, we completed the #scientificwritingtips monthly project on Facebook where we shared some helpful advice on writing research papers. The two that received the most likes were: advice #19: Never use the passive where you can use the active; followed by tip #15: Never use a long word where a short one will do.

How to submit a paper ? short videos

How to submit a paper ? short videos

eCORRECTOR is a scientific proofreading and editing service founded in 2013. To date, we have helped thousands of scientists publish their results in renowned international peer-reviewed journals. We aim to help non-native speakers of English improve the language of their manuscripts in the hope that the results will be expressed in the strongest possible way. eCORRECTOR has a large network of native English PhD proofreaders and editors, many of whom are actively publishing scientists.

In line with our goal of helping scientists publish their work, we have prepared a series of short videos, each lasting between 10 and 20 minutes, covering all major themes of the journal submission and publication processes. Each video focusses on a different but essential theme and has been prepared by Dr Mark J. Hunt, our Head of Quality Control and founder member of eCORRECTOR. Mark has over 30 international peer-reviewed publications and serves as a reviewer for a number of international peer-reviewed journals.

paper

Our previous video can be found here and is entitled ?What happens when I submit my paper?. This video was a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when you submit your work for publication, how editors and reviewers evaluate your work, and the types of final decisions authors may receive from the journal.

 

We have just uploaded our second video! It can be found here and is entitled ?How to submit a paper?. This includes a real-life example of a paper submission process. In the video, Dr Hunt shows to the viewer all the key stages of the submission procedure on a live journal submission panel. Although submission procedures at each journal are slightly different, the overall principles are the same. This particular video is aimed at PhD students or young postdocs who may never have seen how a paper is submitted or how this is done.

This video (?How to submit a paper?) lasts 13 minutes and covers 4 main aspects:

Author instructions ? specifications authors need to follow for their target journal;
Basic manuscript information ? abstract, main title, running title, word counts;
Cover letter ? an example of a typical cover letter;
Merged PDF ? an example of a merged PDF, which is what the reviewers receive.

This will be followed by further videos in the series. The topics covered in the future will include ?How to start writing your first paper?, ?How to respond to reviewers? comments?, and ?7 easy steps to improve your scientific writing?. Together, these videos will cover all the key aspects of the publication process, from submission to eventual acceptance.

If you would like to leave any feedback, or if there is a particular topic you would like covered, please contact us at info@ecorrector.com and let us know.

Online defence ? is it scary?

Online defence ? is it scary?

Throughout the pandemic, we hear more and more about diploma defences online. What does it really mean? What is the schedule? How to prepare for it? We can help you with a first-hand account! Magdalena, the Translation Team Manager from our sister company, MD Online, has just obtained her PhD in that way. She has agreed to share her experience with you to put you at ease if you are waiting for your own online defence.

eCORRECTOR: Gaining a PhD is preceded by a stressful defence procedure. Were you more tense knowing that it will be 100% online in your case?
Magdalena right before the online defence started

Magdalena right before the online defence started

Magdalena: I have to admit that it was scary at first. It was a defence procedure virtually unknown to me and it was to be a historic event, first online PhD defence at my university, one of the first ones in the country. The public nature of a PhD defence was a logistic challenge as all participants had to sing up earlier and arrange proper equipment. Luckily, my commission and thesis supervisors succeeded in making the whole process smooth and in accordance with the regulations. All and all, it was a very enjoyable academic experience!

eCORRECTOR: Can you tell us a bit more about your research?

Magdalena: Certainly! I examined translation from the perspective of a medium, so a specific text type. In my case, a book, a graphic narrative and a computer game. I wanted to learn whether problems in translation are triggered by the content or rather the nature of the medium. As a fan of fantasy literature and a gamer,  I chose the well-known Witcher universes, namely the first translated book, Dark Horse?s graphic narrative and CD Projekt Red?s computer game. I was also interested in the influence of the central work, so Andrzej Sapkowski?s books, on the translation of other media types emerging within this universe.

eCORRECTOR: How did you prepare for your online defence? It surely required additional preparations.

Magdalena: Obtaining a PhD is always a public event, so everyone can attend and, what?s ?worse?, ask a question on whichever topic they choose! Every PhD candidate has to review the scope of the thesis and the research area, but also prepare for surprises. Same applies to an online defence. I also prepared the self-presentation in a slide-show format to make it more interactive and illustrate my research better. Furthermore, I had to publicly reply to the reviewer?s comments, which is a standard procedure, so I prepared a document beforehand to make it smoother.

eCORRECTOR: Was the online defence procedure significantly different from the one we?re used to?

Magdalena: ?Traditional? defences are solemn events; a PhD is not a triviality. The introduction, presenting reviewers, thesis supervisors and the commission, outlining the candidate?s academic record, self-presentation, discussion on review results ? it?s all carried out in a very serious manner. Everyone is elegantly dressed from head to toe. I try to hide my smile when people ask me what I wore for my defence and I had? tracksuit bottoms ? Just as other participants, I was dressed for the occasion from the waist up, but it was difficult to force ourselves to abandon that bit of comfort when at home. There were also some funny moments when someone forgot to mute their microphone or did not turn it on and we could only see the gestures. I think such mishaps are unavoidable during online events. Therefore, I cannot say that it was not solemn or serious? it was just different.

eCORRECTOR: How was the non-public part with the vote carried out?

Magdalena: When the commission was to discuss whether to accept my thesis, all non-essential participants were ?kicked out? from the online event. When the professors reached a decision, were all re-invited to hear the verdict. The voting was secret, conducted via an app prepared for this purpose.

eCORRECTOR: Thank you for your time and explaining how an online defence looks like. Some of the authors that cooperate with us face such a perspective, so this interview may help them conquer it. We would like to use this occasion to congratulate Magdalena and wish her further academic success!