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

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.

Meet our editors and proofreaders: Anthony

dr Anthony

Anthony, PhD in Urban Studies,
The University of Sheffield

Meet our editors and proofreaders: Anthony

As a part of “Meet our editors and proofreaders” series, we interview some of the native speakers who edit and proofread your texts. We started with Anthony, PhD in Urban Studies, from the University of Sheffield. He discusses his work and provides helpful advice about how to improve your academic writing.

Research interests

What are you researching?
My research has focused on the politics and management of urban infrastructures ? how cities manage their energy and water networks, how their telecommunications infrastructures are managed, and how transport operates. In an age of tight public finances, ageing infrastructures, growing climate concerns and debates over privatisation and nationalisation, how these infrastructures are managed is a vital public concern.

What inspires you about research?
The ability to learn something new and ?create? knowledge. Many academics have the stereotype of wanting to change the world (and that was what also inspired me to get into research), but the ability to delve deep into a subject and to fully understand the mechanics at work in a particular area is truly inspirational.

What is the major scientific challenge, in your field, for this decade?
Giving cities (and nations) the ability to fund and operate their existing infrastructures in a climate-friendly and cost-effective way in an age of dwindling natural resources and tight finances, while being able to provide fair and equitable access to all members of society.

Have you read a breakthrough paper recently?
Not really a recent paper (as it was published in 2001) but ?Splintering Urbanism: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities and the Urban Condition? was a book I?d recommend to anyone involved in infrastructure research.

What made it great?
Occasionally you find a book or a paper that manages to tackle all the complexities and interactions that are already swirling around in your mind, and simplify them to such an extent that you can just sit there and think, ?of course, that?s exactly what happens?.

Golden tips about writing papers

How do you get motivated to start writing a paper?
I always find it easier to start writing a new piece of work than to finish an existing piece. New papers are exciting and fun, and you have a world of possibilities as to where your argument will take you. The problem for me is how to get over the boredom and annoyance that follows that initial excitement, when writing begins to feel more like actual work. My advice is to just keep writing. It doesn?t matter what, just keep at it. Put the words on the page as you think of them and just see what comes out. Stephen King famously writes around 2,000 words every single day ? some are good, some are not so good. But keep practicing!

What is your golden piece of advice when writing a paper?
Signpost your argument. I can?t overstate how important this is for the reader. ?In this paper I will? I start by examining? before moving onto? This will allow?? A reader is unlikely to read your paper more than once (and even if someone does download your paper, it is likely they will skim through to the most important parts ? academics are busy people!). Being able to see where your argument is going and being able to pre-empt what comes next gives the reader some impetus to keep reading.

What is the most common mistake you notice when you edit/proof papers?
Ignoring the question ?so what?? Why should I read your paper? What is the end goal? You might have invented the most efficient solar panel that has ever existed, but if you do not explicitly state this in the introduction and conclusion, then I will be reading nothing more than equations and difficult technical language that I may not understand, and your paper will be lost amongst the hundreds of thousands of other papers that are published each year.

Do you have a presentation/stylistic tip?
Try not to write overly long sentences. If you cannot avoid this, then sprinkle a few very short sentences into the text. Like this. A reader needs to able to ?breathe? when they are reading your paper, even if it is only in their heads. With sentences that get far too long and far too convoluted and fail to include any forms of punctuation that can help to break up the text to give the reader time to pause they can forget the point you are trying to make before they even get to the end of the sentence. So, break it up. Regularly.

Can you recommend any app/tool for improving scientific writing?
Referencing software (EndNote, Mendeley) can be useful to help reduce the annoyances that come from fixing your references, but bear in mind they are not always accurate.

Free language consultations online

Free language consultations online

Are you in the middle of writing a paper and have no idea how to express a point?

Are you preparing an important response to reviewers and it is difficult to defend your view in a polite way?

Perhaps you are ready to submit your publication, but have questions about the letter of recommendation?

Or you want to apply for a position and need some advice on a scientific CV as well as a convincing letter?

If you said yes to any of the above – great!

Today,  on 22 February between 6pm and 7pm CET you will have a unique opportunity to join free language consultations at eCORRECTOR. The expert answering your questions is dr hab. Mark Hunt. The goal of the consultations is to help authors of scientific publication who work on their papers, replies to reviewers or applications.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The only thing you need to do is to log onto our expert chat (22 February, between 6pm and 7pm), where dr Mark Hunt will be waiting for your questions. Your queries should be rather short and precise, expressed in the English language. You don’t have to sign up earlier or pay a fee – the consultations are totally free of charge!

If you want to know more about scientific writing, you can visit our Scientist’s Library.  It is a constantly updated and rich database of free materials (papers, books, webinars and online courses).

Dr hab. Mark Jeremy Hunt conducted his PhD research at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge. His biomedical research was then continued in French and British institutes. He has been tied to the Nencki Institute in Poland for almost 10 years and gained his habilitation there. Dr Hunt publishes over 20 papers in international journals, such as Biological Psychiatry, Journal of Neuroscience and Trends in Neuroscience, holding additional 15 years of experience in proofreading scientific manuscripts.

Accompanied by his wife, Dorota Sakowska-Hunt (MBA), he has been developing the eCORRECTOR company for more than 3 years. The offer includes proofreading and scientific editing for researchers and academic willing to submit their papers to international journals.

Konsultacje

About eCORRECTOR:

Mission statement: to ensure textually clear, grammatically correct and properly localised proofreading and translations by native speakers of the target language.

 eCORRECTOR has an excellent track record of providing proofreading and translations to individual academics, institutes and businesses. We are building a solid reputation and have a large number of customers who reuse our services as well as recommended it to others.

Translation and Proofreading of Grant Applications

Translation and Proofreading of Grant Applications

Research, especially in rapidly growing areas like biomedical science and engineering, requires substantial funding. Scientists have access to a number of grants that may help them finance their academic plans, e.g. the Visegrad fund, EU funds, ERC grant, NCN grants.

It is normal in the career of a scientist for grant applications to be rejected, indeed quite often the rejection rate exceeds those grants accepted. This is the case for those at the start of their career all the way through to highly experienced scientists.

Writing a grant can be considered in much the same way as writing a paper, indeed the structure of many grants are often in the style of an academic paper, requiring introductions, methods, with the results being anticipated rather than obtained  (although it is often advisable to include preliminary data).

Increasingly, grants need to be prepared in English. One reason for this is so that they may be evaluated by non-Polish speaking scientists. As with academic papers, the quality of the written text can have an important influence on how the reviewer perceives the quality of the science. Clarify of language can be one of the decisive factors determining the outcome of a grant application. For example, if methodologies, expected outcome, etc are unclear or confusing it is highly likely a reviewer will not recommend the application for funding. To address this issue (and the increasing demands that parts or all of the application be submitted in English) a growing number of universities and institutes have established international offices dedicated to the preparation of grant proposals.

At eCORRECTOR we work closely with research scientists, many of who have received funding from US, UK, or Polish-based funding bodies. This expertise enable us to provide highly specialised editing of grant applications which is likely to enhance the content of the application as well as its overall professional presentation. We also offer a translation service for academics who either do not have the time to write the application or are not used to preparing applications in English. In additional to providing language support for grant applications, eCORRECTOR has a strong track record of helping academics prepare manuscripts for international peer-reviewed journals and habilitation theses.

About eCORRECTOR: Mission statement: to ensure textually clear, grammatically correct and properly localised proofreading and translations by native speakers of the target language.

 eCORRECTOR has an excellent track record of providing proofreading and translations to individual academics, institutes and businesses. We are building a solid reputation and have a large number of customers who reuse our services as well as recommended it to others.

Our Head of Scientific Proofreading, dr hab. Mark J Hunt, received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK and has published over 20 academic papers and regularly serves as a reviewer for international journals.

We are very proud of the academic excellence of proofreaders. Here are some of the universities where our proofreaders received their PhD?s (or MBBS): University of Cambridge, University College London, King?s College London, Queen Mary University of London, University of Massachusetts, Johns Hopkins University, University of California, University of Edinburgh, University of Newcastle, Durham University, University of Arizona, University of Minnesota, University of Colorado, University of Connecticut, Ohio State University.