Oct 13, 2011

Why research coming from countries that do not have English as their mother tongue has less impact?

As a scientist born in a non English speaking country, I have asked myself this question in more than one opportunity. As I read not long ago, “many authors are convinced that the acceptability of their articles by indexed journals is based on parameters not related to quality or innovation.”1
Is it true that our research may have less impact just because we are not English native speakers?

In order to try to answer this question and to open the discussion about this topic, I would like to share with you some of my personal thoughts and also the research recently published surrounding this area.

The potential existence of bias in scientific publishing is disclosed in the literature,2,3 although on the majority of the occasions the decision not to accept a manuscript is attributed to external reviewers. There are several other factors related to publishing itself that are carefully discussed in an article that appeared in Neurología1 this year, which I strongly recommend you to read.
Publication bias has been defined as “the tendency for certain kinds of studies, typically those showing a significant positive result in a clinical trial or an observational study, to receive more favorable publication decisions than equally well-conducted studies that report a negative or null result”.4-6 In this sense, I believe that authors, editors and reviewers contribute to create this favoritism towards the publication of certain manuscripts and not others. Among the situations influencing the decision to accept or reject a manuscript we can find the authors’ nationalities, as well as the authors’ mother tongue, and the academic institution where the article comes from.1

Regarding the language, I’m truly convinced that this is a major factor when the final decision of acceptance or rejection of a manuscript is taken. It is a fact that those journals that are not published in English tend to have a lower impact factor and less impact in the scientific community.7-10
There is also evidence that bibliographic databases favor publications in English.1 Articles in their own language are difficult to be accessed, therefore, less people read them and as a consequence, less people cite them.

You may also think that what I’m writing is a contradiction as I’m talking about editorial bias but I’m not writing this article in my mother tongue. However, I’m pretty sure more people are going to have access to this article if it’s written in English, which is basically what I need to spread this idea. I think the real question is whether or not we are willing to take actions when we think our manuscripts don’t receive a fair treatment during the peer-reviewing process and what we can do to change this.

The discussion is open and now it’s your turn to raise your voice and leave your comments here…

1. Matías-Guiu, J.; García-Ramos, R.; Editorial bias in scientific Publications; Neurología, 2011, 26, 1 and references therein.
2. Begg C. B.; Berlin, J. A.; Publication bias; a problem in interpreting medical data; J. Roy. Stat. Soc. A., 1988, 151, 445.
3. Song, F.; Eastwood, A. J.; Gilbody, S.; Duley, L.; Sutton, A. J.; Publication and  related biases; Health Technol. Assess., 2000, 4, 1.
4. Sridharan, L.; Greenland, P.; Editorial Policies and Publication Bias. The Importance of  Negative Studies; Arch. Intern. Med, 2009, 169, 1022.
5. Olson, C. M.; Rennie, D. ; Cook, D. ; Dickersin, K. ; Flanagin, A. ; Hogan, J. W. ; Zhu, Q. ; Reiling, J. ; Pace, B.; Publication bias in editorial decision making, J. Am. Med. Assoc., 2002, 287, 2825.
6. Callaham, M. L.; Wears, R. L.; Weber, E. J.; Barton, C.; Young, G.; Positive-outcome bias and other limitations in the outcome of research abstracts submitted to a scientific meeting; J. Am. Med. Assoc.,1998, 280, 254.
7. Jiménez-Contreras, E.; Delgado López-Cózar, E.; Ruiz-Pérez, R.; Fernández, V. M.; Impact factor rewards affect spanish research; Nature, 2002, 417, 898.
8. Winkmann, G.; Schlutius, S.; Schweim, H. G.; Citation rates of medical German-language journals in English-language papers –do they correlate with the impact factor, and who cites?; Klin. Monatsbl. Augenheilkd., 2002, 219, 72.
9. Winkmann, G.; Schlutius, S.; Schweim; H. G.; Publication languages of Impact Factor journals and of medical bibliographic databanks; Dtsch. Med. Wochenschr. 2002, 127, 131.
10. Gregoire, G.; Derderian, F.; Le Lorier, J.; Is there a Tower of Babel bias?; J. Clin. Epidemiol., 1995, 48, 159.

Written by Dr. Ana Bellomo for The All Results Journals. 


  1. Majority of non English speaking countries are developing and this may be the reason. The development mode

  2. If not less impact, definitely less acceptance starting at the peer review process. We should not restrict the case study to the less impact factor of those journals that publish in some other language but English. It is not surprising or uncommon those cases of non native speakers of English working abroad (in some English speaking countries or some European countries such as Germany) that experience a larger "collaboration" from the peer reviews.

  3. Dr. Alcantara,

    Thanks for sharing the views of Dr. Ana Bellomo. To some extent yes this is right. Though I dont have that much experience, but in my views there are some important points which should be considered like:

    1. English is the widely used communication language and it is not just the research quality which is important, also one can ascertain the quality only when it has been communicated in the right language. Whatever one is saying, the other person should first able to understand it completely.

    2. Though I realy wants to work for good impact but it is not just the impact which defines the quality of research, it is about the applicability of the work in normal scenario. How the International scientific community may get benefited.

    3. Moreover impact is very much of importance in the early carrier of a researcher but later on it is the quality which matters most.

    4. If we are talking about bias then yes every system, races, community, country, organization (any thing which involves us, THE HUMAN), bias exist and neither research nor the research community is an exception

    5. Ideal condition is it should not exist and like ideal gases, such ideal conditions are very rare in existence.

    I just want to say yes such conditions exist and the topic is of great importance for debat, but we all knows that debates are generally end in no results as they just include the views of individuals and no two individuals have 100% same views.

    Once again thanks for bringing this short article.

  4. To a large extent I agree with you.

    However, I have modified my openion about this when I shared my manuscripts "rejected" on grounds of language with native english speaking scientists. I found that there was room for improvement and the way some of my sentences were reworded made a difference. Sentences were more concise and still conveyed the meaning in a better fashion.

    Yet I still feel that the content should be given importance over the language if there are no grammatical errors. Afterall a scientific paper is not a classic literature or fiction writing. I am sure many scientists with english as their mother tongue may not be very good writers.

    As a solution, journals should make provisions for correction of language by asking the reviewers to mark the "mistakes". If one has money, then one can hire services for language corrections and the journals themselves provide links to those.
    Or just be happy with the publication even if it is in low impact factor journal. What really matters is the truth of scientific discovery.

  5. [Colin Clarke] Colin ClarkeOctober 19, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    Yes, I agree that if the science is good the language should be irrelevant.


    English is the language of science, and that's not going to change in the near future. We need to have a single language for communication, so publishing in a language apart from English is certainly going to limit your potential audience and therefore impact.

    I disagree that reviewers should be asked to correct language mistakes in manuscripts - as they should be able to concentrate on the science, in addition reviewers dedicate their time for free and should not be asked to proof read.

    If the English is not correct and concise I'm afraid that it does detract from impact of the research.

  6. I agree with Clarke that we need to have a single language for communication in Science. And the choice of English may be due to the highly advanced research by English countries. I don't have objection for this but it really hurts when even good work of non native english speakers is rejected after pointing out so many comments and also pointing towards english even if it is good but even a low quality work may be accepted by same journal if it is by English speaking authors. Apart from this, what i have learnt from my experience is that it also depends on your relations in the scientific communities and your relations with Enlish speaking authors generally counts, and this is not only biased but it also puts question mark over the criteria of various journals that whether they want to publish the real Science or just helping one another to make a good name and fame in the scientific community.

    This trend is very much clear when you submit your MS in many journals, they generally ask for your suggestion for reviewers and what else somewhere they also ask to oppose reviewer. Although in general it is just asked to help the editor for finding out the reviewers for your MS but it can clearly demonstrate your acquaintances with others and it really serves like a magic if you have some contacts in reviewer list of particular journal or in Editorial Board.

    So a fair question emereging from this is that while doing Science whether our aim is just to help one anothers work published even if it is not of real quality and/or to reject even the quality work if the author does not belong to our group.

    Science will always go ahead and clarify various hurdles in our way but this process might also hurt various emerging talents and might stop their scientific journey just because they were not having contacts and were non native english authors.

  7. It is more complicated than publications. The system of peer review in funding and academic promotion also plays a role. Non-native English speakers usually also are not as social and thus do a worse job promoting their own work. Even if they got papers published, they tend to be cited less often and especially when there are competing ideas from native English speakers.

  8. I think Dr. Paliwal made some very good points, specially considering the fact that if you have contacts with Enlish speaking authors, sometimes is easier to get your work published.
    Also, if you check the articles that have been published lately in high impact journals, you'll realize that there are just few examples of research coming from non developing countries and this does not mean that good science is not done there...I think we, as part of the scientific community, have to start changing this.

  9. Hegemony in research publications: the problem and the antidote.

    I think that the problem is only partly understood here. The malaise is much deeper.

    The sentiment of nationalism, a localizing influence, runs apparently counter to education and research, generally considered global in outlook, for which the society depends on a university. In reality, it reinforces the main purpose of the university which is to create as well as propagate knowledge, that includes a keen awareness of how human beings manage their own affairs. History has repeatedly evidenced the sad state of human affairs wherein each episode is defined by the deafening ‘cultural’ silence with which the society is conditioned to endure the prevailing state of affairs. The humanism inherent to the function of the university has to also provide safeguards to sustain that humanism in the face of the multi-headed serpent of hegemony. The publication world of journals, the main outlet for organized human knowledge, particularly in sciences and technology, is largely publicly funded and yet privately managed, leading to major anomalies which are on the increase. It can be seen that the problem arises as an offshoot of the paradigmatic development of science and the need to control departures from the main stream science that occurs often enough. When the market forces are applied to the publication world, the situation offers a very curious mechanism to control claims of thought since claims alone can be converted into monopolistic applications for technology. Globalization, WTO and many other devices are primarily aimed at sustaining and enforcing the asymmetry of the control of the fruits of knowledge. The publication world being the portal of exit of the knowledge into the public domain, requires that it be purged of the hegemonic control before we can engage in truly international science. Scientometrics, which is used, however incompetently, as a device for measuring merit, can be turned around to assess and moderate hegenomic influences in publications due to editorial practices, using the ubiquitous Internet.
    While an implemnetal plan has been developed already, I still find it difficult to find collaborators.

  10. Sure we need a common language to communicate and share knowledge, and English is actually the language of science. It is evident that when we are not English native speaking, or don’t exploiting it as a business language, we couldn’t use it perfectly. From my modest experience, I have noticed that when authors are identified non English native speaking, some referees pick out English grammar quality than research framework. This could discard interesting findings or research results. I think that reviewing process should be improved in: authors’ affiliation and country must be hidden; or reviewers must be identified to authors. And I opt for the second option, in support of a more democratic and liable jury, i.e. author knowing his commentator, will be more confident and efficient. I think that conferences’ proceedings are more open, knowledge and experiences could be shared more significantly. Perhaps more emphasis must be directed to proceeding books enhancing their impact factor…

  11. May be if the major findings of non-English papers be given in english for searching, then it would be easier for the entire scientific community to access.

  12. Not a great article: but I think it's right in saying that there's a lot of factors at work here. I know that I've often refereed papers written by non-Anglophone countries and had to spend a lot of time correcting awkward and incorrect language. (I understand the problem, but really these should have been run by an English speaker - any English speaker - before submission.) And there's definitely a circuit / peer group effect going on - an editor or referee will trust papers from people they know and be suspicious of those from "unknown" groups. That's just human nature.

    As for papers published in non-English journals, I don't see any easy solution here. If a publication is not in English, it won't be found or known about by most of the world until someone else independently publishes the finding in an English journal. Sad but true: You may as well throw your work down a mineshaft.

  13. Evolution of a dominant language, is quiet similar to evolution of dominant species and history & geographical distribution has a lot to do with both process. English has become a dominant language owing to history and geographical distribution. On the top of this proverbial Tower of Babel we have a complexity of human prejudice. This is a very dangerous cocktail and could destroy many career and hide credit when its due. for instance Russians knew a great deal about photoreceptor biology even before America, but the work was exploited more by Americans. This is just an example.

    Giants are produced in non english speaking countries for sure, but I wonder that there giant hood would be more glorious and easy to come by if they were good communicators in English.

  14. I am a non-native English speaker and a PhD student (of Computer Science) in a non-English-speaking country, but I have to agree with Colin Clarke here.
    Some of you complain that beyond the mere technical content, other factors matter. Language, i.e. effective communication; having acquaintances, that is actively making yourself and your research known; and so on. Because of all these, a great idea might be rejected. That's why learning to be a researcher also means learning to excel in these "collateral" activities and play by the rules, that is, communicate clearly and build a research network.
    I used to think that these rules are unfair, and maybe they are in part. But on the other hand, these rules are sensible (if imperfect) once you take the right point of view, and in my PhD I learned the importance of these rules.

    A genius who does not share his discoveries might know all there is to know, but is useless to the scientific community: he does not enhance the common knowledge; and in the end, how can we judge that he is a genius? How do we distinguish him from a fool who believes himself a genius? This is unfair if he's actually a genius, but what else can we do?

    A researcher who has a great idea, but does not work to explain it effectively, is a bit like such a genius. The whole point of publishing is to _communicate new science_, and "communicate" is at least as important as "new science". After all, the concrete product of publication is a paper others can learn from, and eventually common knowledge for the scientific community. For all of this communication must be effective, and effective communication requires good writing, and good writing takes much more than just getting the language right. Effective communication (especially in conferences) leads also to knowing members of your audience, especially when you discuss with them.

    When a negative review seems unfair, do not question only the review; question also how you judge it. The process is not partial to "friends of the community"; it is partial to people who understand which are the rules and why following them is important. Of course, it is not perfect, and also the process might be perfected.
    Better advice than I can give can be found, among others, in these sources:

    In the end, I find the linked article not convincing at all - questioning the existence of a single standard language for science seems pointless, and that language happens to be English. I agree that it might be somewhat unfair, but learning English, and learning to write well, is much easier than learning to do research.

  15. English is the major language used in scientific writing today, whatever the reasons behind that, it is true and we must accept it sportively.
    If our poor English writing skills are humiliating the impact of scientific work, we must try to improve them.

    But, I deny that the reviewers are bias in accepting manuscripts of non-English speaking authors.

    Last week I came across an article which was in Arabic language. Obviously I was left devoid of the knowledge in it. I could not do anything.
    This is the reason why the articles in the native language get lesser impact.

  16. @Colin Clark Pl read my comment once again. I wrote "...journals should make provisions for correction of language by asking the reviewers to mark the "mistakes". May be I could not convey what I wanted to say in correct manner. What I meant was reviewers could be asked to use "reviewing" func. This is not difficult when a reviwer gets pdf or doc file. As one goes through the ms, one can "mark" or highlight the mistakes or add comments. It is sort of different from "proof reading" and many journals do ask the reviewer to do this. This does not take extra time yet gives the author an idea about the corrections that are required. I know reviewers do this job for free and dedicate time but with personal experience I can say, I did not find it inconvenient to use "reviewing" function in doc files :-)

  17. If a reviewer is asked to highlight language, grammer or spelling mistakes, they are by definition proof reading. While I agree it is straightforward to use reviewing functions to annotate a document, it is no different to making a list, the reviewer is still spending time doing it. :-)

    I was always taught that communicating your work through a well written article is essential, if this isnt the case questions arise toward the accuracy of the science itself.

    I'm always happy to review articles in my field, if asked, butIf a journal asked me to correct the language in an article I would decline,as would the majority of my colleagues. It is an authors responsibility to ensure everything is OK.

  18. @Seema: I did exactly this a couple of days ago on a paper in collaboration - there were just a few slips, but a sentence said the opposite of what it meant, and some others need to be written in a different way. And even minor slips still take time to annotate - more time than just noticing the errors, even if less than writing a list. Why not just study more English, if there's the need, or spend more time on proofreading one's articles? Only you can convince us that's not practical we should discuss other solutions.

  19. Sure “learning to write well is much easier than learning to do research”. However, in some non Latin speaking countries, it seems to be more difficult, as well in some developing countries, due to their non custom-made education system. So perhaps “Great ideas” not communicated in perfect English (just ordinary language and perhaps with some editing spelling errors), should be appreciated …. Why not asking for a major revision rather than a paper reject….In my experience, I used to emphasize the matter, the methodology and approaches, the finding or new science, the authors’ labors (as laboratories are not with same regulation and equipments in all countries), and at the end I point to the English grammar or mistakes. Rarely, I reject a paper, only when it is unreadable or following a poor scientific approach; allowing opportunity to further sharing experiences and discussion. Proceedings follow also reviewing process; additionally seminars enable more sharing, exchanges and consultations. I think that their impact factor could be reviewed. I think that journals must enhance their reviewing process, like not less than 3 reviewers’ board visible to authors.

  20. Gramatical errors should not be accepted. However, if there are NO GRAMATICAL ERRORS but the reviewer is unhappy with sentence construction, that can be highligted. At least the author(s) will know where they have made a mistake or what is expected from them!! I am sure, native english speaking scientists will never realise the problems that non-native english speaking scientists face but there can be some understanding and milder approach in this direction. Ask for improvement/revision but do not reject on grounds of language if the scientific reporting is correct. A generic comment that "English is not of appropriate standard but nothing wrong with the scientific reporting/work" does not give the author(s) any idea of what improvement is required. At least some of the sentences could be marked. And by the way "ENGLISH IS NOT OF APPROPRIATE STANDARD, SENTENCES ARE TOO LONG" comment does not covey properly (at least to me) whether there are gramatical errors or something wrong with sentences or both :-).

  21. @Fairouz: I see your point about focusing on methodology and approaches, and just "at the end point to the English grammar or mistakes". However, as a reviewer (who is not even a native English speaker, yet has made efforts to improve constantly) I can tell you that some poorly written articles are so distracting one cannot tell what they are trying to convey. Also, as I believe Clarke pointed out, I am devoting my spare time to review since it is a voluntary role and I do have a full time job. If I see other redeeming qualities (provided they are actually visible), I do not reject the abstract, but do recommend that the author(s) would benefit from a native English speaker's help to proofread/edit. This is not a hard thing to find, even a good friend who is not a scientist can help with spelling and grammar. Poor communication is a hindrance in every field, and the scientific community need not be exempt, no matter the native language of the researcher.

  22. You distinguish ideas from language, and while that distinction is sometimes meaningful, sometimes people just won't get your point. As a matter of fact, Fairouz Bettayeb, I am sorry but at a number of points I don't get well enough what you mean.

    @Seema: my writing used to be too complex, too - I am not a native speaker, and I come from Italy; I'm positive that our average English in Italy is worse than the one in India. To address the complexity of my English, I read this book and followed its advice, with great results:
    That's not a grammar book though.

    BTW, "sentences are too long" is not an excellent comment, because a mere "write short sentences" is bad advice (applies often but not always).

    About marking errors, the only reasonable way to do it is _explain_ what the error is - otherwise the author might still not recognize the error, like in homework at school.
    Personally, I wouldn't reject a paper on grounds of language alone, as long as the content is worthwhile. Yet I know that in some cases the issue will arise, and asking for a revision will be required.

    == What I didn't get ==
    "However, in some non Latin speaking countries, it seems to be more difficult, as well in some developing countries, due to their non custom-made education system."

    "Rarely, I reject a paper, only when it is unreadable or following a poor scientific approach; allowing opportunity to further sharing experiences and discussion."

    "I think that their impact factor could be reviewed."
    The impact factor of a venue V is just a statistic - how many citations are there to papers from the venue V? Here I don't get you, but I guess this is not for a language issue.

  23. I agree with Paul-Michael on the circuit / peer group effect. I call this the negative effect of scientific networks. (Those who are outside of the main collaborative networks, e.g. because they speak a different language, are effectively excluded from the top journals). In addition, there is a negative effect of the open-access publication model through the selection of the authors from the countries which can pay higher page charges and open-access fees. What is just a monthly postdoc salary in an English-speaking country is more like an early salary for a scientist in many non-English speaking countries. They say that the journals have special funds to publish research from developing countries for free, but in reality the editors are under pressure of not letting "free" articles in the journal, because that could lead to the journal's bankruptcy. So there is also an economical threshold on top of the language threshold.

  24. Vladimir, I think the network has a great effect on what gets published. I was once told by distinguished academic "Editors decide who gets published. If they like the paper, they'll send it to someone who will go easy. If they don't like it, they'll send it to someone who'll be harsh." And so the system reinforces itself.

    I think you're also on point with the unintended effect of open access publishing. I've had occasions when I've had to pass on publishing in a particular journal because of the page fees. Even before open access, some had extraordinary charges - I had one in Annual Reviews of Ecology that cost (I think) US$900. For researchers in emerging nations, junior researchers or those doing unfunded work, these can be insurmountable barriers.

  25. I am a non-native English speaker and I have this perennial problem, while writing manuscripts. How am I to be sure that the reader understands correctly and precisely what I have expressed in the manuscript, using my limited vocabulary and usage pattern that I am familiar and comfortable with?

  26. I think it is not only about the language. It is also about money and about networks (in the negative sense of the word networks). Non-English speaking countries are usually the countries outside of the major collaborative networks, and thus people outside of the inner circle might be excluded from good journals.

  27. It is also pretty easy to hire a native English-speaker to read and correct the paper, or even to translate the whole text. This is just the question of money and nothing else. Relatively small money. In comparison with the page charges and open-access charges, these are very small money. The page charges and the open-access charges - these are really huge money for many countries. It is this negative effect of the open-access business model that decreased the impact of papers from economically less powerful countries. It is a coincidence, that these countries are not English-speaking.

  28. Not to mention that the editors of many journals have instructions to avoid accepting papers from the countries where authors would not pay the page charges but would rather ask to publish the paper for free. It is again a coincidence that most of these economically weak countries are not English-speaking.

  29. @Valdimir Teif True to some extent :-). But don't worry, publishing is more important in the final run of things. However much the so called non-impact journals may be looked down upon, the only way for them is to go high in impact someday. If one does not publish, the work goes without recognition however small it may be. Keep trying for high impact journals in one or two trials but if unsuccessful, please do not hesitate from publishing in low impact journals. Publish your work and do not perish :-)

  30. I am an English to Hungarian Medical/Science translator with 11 years of experience. I have a deep insight in this topic. We all know that English is the dominant language in Science. I don't think that anybody can do anything against that. Not even Google translate. :-)) When it comes to scientific writing/translation there are 2 key rules that must be kept:

    * Translate/write to/in your mother tongue, or if you translate/write to/in a language which is not your mother tongue, hire a native speaker language reviewer. I have experienced that many non-English native speaker science/medical professionals are writing/translating English articles "intuitively". For example they have heard this or that term on a conference (maybe from non-English native speakers) and they use those terms without even making a research whether they are correct or not in that specific context. Another issue I met is using terms which sound very similar in their mother tongue, but the 2 terms mean 2 different things.

    * Understanding a language and "transplant" the meaning of sentences are 2 very different things. A special linguistic skill is definitely needed to make sentences as fluent and terms as accurate as possible. Speaking has the advantage to give the opportunity to make things more clear, meanwhile when you are publishing an article, it must be clear instantly. Further clarifications are not possible. So the article must be as accurate and fluent as possible.

    Many times I have seen that people are using Google translate or other machine translators in case of medical/science articles & documents. I don't recommend this. There are a few languages where it may work but strictly on the level of understanding the approx. topic of the text. In case of Hungarian language it doesn't work at all (there's even a saying: "Hungarians are from Mars" :-)) - meaning Hungarian language doesn't have proven language relations with any other languages). Furthermore MT can be disturbing due to copyright/confidentiality issues.

    If we look on the other side of the question: when translating an English article to other languages, it is very important to hire a translator. I had the chance to collaborate with science/medical experts who are not translators but they were translating articles of other scientists. It is a pretty common mistake adding their own ideas & interpretations to these articles. But this way they are forming the articles to their own style which can cause legal/copyright issues. Since they are modifying the content of the original article. Do not add/omit anything. This could be rule #3.

    According to my experience it is highly recommended to write articles only in mother tongue and translations must be done by native speaker linguistic professionals. When the translation is needed in a few languages the best is to hire a direct language provider (translators working in teams: translator/reviewer) so this way the job will not be overoutsourced and that person will do the job personally, whom we hired. When it comes to huge projects I experienced that some agencies were giving out the tests to good translators, they won the project and then they outsourced the big project to low rate & low quality translators. When you need to hire an agency (> 6 languages), ask for a guarantee that those translators will do the translations, who provided the high quality tests.

    Language fluency and accuracy are major deciding factors in article peer-reviewing.
    So when you are hiring a language provider, either a translator or a translation agency, a thorough research is needed before hiring one.

    Best regards,

  31. It is true that we tend to publish in English, because there is no other way if you want to have a reputation. However I believe that we have to publish in our language at the same rate of english ones and start building scientific community in other languages.

  32. Chandrasekharan, get any native English speaker to go over your manuscripts. Even if they only point out awkward phrases or constructions, that should make the language less jarring to any reader. Alternatively, use a grammar checkers such as in MSWord. These are not perfect, but they do a decent job. I use them myself.

  33. @Agapow -- Thanks for your response. Grammar and Spelling have never been a problem. The real trouble is to choose the more apt word/phrase that will unambiguously convey the correct meaning. To get a native English Speaker is not
    such an easy job, for us, however. Once again thank you.

  34. That is why a good abstract (in English) is very much appreciated in those articles that are not in English. I can learn a lot from the abstract including methods, results of the study, and conslusion. Good ideas can be presented in the abstract and are going to be cited even though I can not have access to the complete article.

  35. @Laura Rojas de Francisco: I don't see the point of the additional work in translating scientific papers, at least in 'hard science' disciplines (for humanistic disciplines, see below); I've learned to avoid translations whenever possible because of the quality loss, for scientific books and even for movies; moreover, you reach a much smaller audience by that extra effort, and if many people did the same, that audience might even feel encouraged to not learn English.
    I can see instead the point of writing scientific books in your own language, if the target is not made of researchers. Moreover, for some humanistic disciplines, like philosophy, there's a bigger point in using languages other than English - since translation is extremely difficult and will very often not preserve the exact meaning (unlike in hard sciences); I live in Germany and I've heard this argument in support of using German in philosophy. I'm not sure what's best in this case, but I see the point.

  36. As a native English speaker who reviews (and corrects for colleagues), many papers written by non-native speakers, I believe that I am biased, but against poor English speakers, not those for whom English is not their native language. I don't look where the authors are from to form this opinion, but if I start to notice many errors in the English from the start of the paper (sometimes it's seen even in the title), it is hard to take the paper seriously. One author mentioned MSWord's proofing tools. OK, they are not foolproof, but when I get a paper where there are spelling /grammar mistakes in the text, that could have been corrected in 10 minutes with these tools, it really makes me think the authors are not taking the work seriously, so it is hard for me to do so. In the end, the language is there to convey the science, not on its own account, however. The only faults that make me request a full re-write are when the language is misleading and confusing...as one author said, sometimes when a paper comes back with corrections, we can really improve it, by thinking more carefully about the language...Think about when you tried to follow a written procedure in a paper, and it's not clear exactly what the author's meant? This can be really frustrating.

  37. There is definitely native-speaker bias, not just among the scientific community, but in almost all languages and countries. However, as English has more and more become the language of business, science and finance, this bias has a much larger impact.

    I agree with Peter Eaton, that sometimes, mistakes have a serious impact from the reader's point of view. Mistakes can make the work itself look sloppy or unprofessional, and other times, they can completely change the meaning of the sentence. English is actually a very rigid language, and changing the structure of the sentence can make the sentence mean something else entirely. It has been proven in multiple journals that non-native speakers are harder for native speakers to understand, they have to "decipher" the non-native speaker's speech, as it is structured differently from the "norm" of native speech.

    At English Edits, our mission is to help non-native speakers get around this bias by editing journal entries, websites, and anything else our clients have in English to make it sound like it was written by a native English speaker. However, I'd be really interested in thoughts on whether, as non-native speakers, you think this helps or hurts your cause.