Top 5 language mistakes that leads to paper rejection and how to avoid them
A researcher spends years working on a topic, puts in all his efforts and knowledge to get that outstanding work completed. The only thing that is then left is to get the work published. The cruel fact however is- Getting a paper published is harder for non-native English speakers even if the work is brilliant. Poor language is among the top reasons for any paper’s rejection. In fact, poor language is among the top reasons for desk-rejection i.e. the article gets rejected by the journal even without being sent for review. We will thus in this article discuss top 5 language mistakes that can lead to any research paper’s rejection and how to avoid them.
Common language mistakes that lead to any research paper’s rejection:
- Creative writing- According to Simone Munao, the Managing Editor Physics and Mathematics at Elsevier, a research paper must be written in as simple sentences as possible. Many authors make a mistake of using a creative language and difficult vocabulary in order to sound proficient in English. A research paper however demands a formal academic writing instead of creative writing which is used in novels.
- Long sentences- A very common language mistake that can make your paper completely incomprehensible is writing long sentences. Short and to-the-point sentences are readable, have lesser mistakes and are easy to edit. A reviewer might get lost in long sentences to a point that he will find the paper dull and might reject it.
Let’s pick an example to demonstrate this:
- Long sentence: “A weight-lifting experiment was carried out on 50 male participants within an age group of 25-30 years, with half of them being chain-smokers in order to understand the effect of smoking on individual’s stamina”.
- Short sentence: “A weight-lifting experiment was carried out on 50 male participants. All of the participants were within an age group of 25-30 years with half of them being non-smokers. The purpose of the experiment was to understand the effect of smoking on individual’s stamina”.
In the above example, short sentence is clear and easy to understand while the long sentence creates confusion.
- Spelling mistakes- Although a couple of spelling errors won’t lead to a manuscript’s rejection, but if that single spelling mistake turns out to be a blunder (even just from the reviewer’s perspective), your paper might face the rejection. As an example, I remember during my PhD. tenure, my supervisor’s review paper was rejected just because he misspelled an antibiotic’s name that turned out to be the highlight of the paper.
Such mistakes give an impression of lack of proper research and carelessness. This can be intolerable when the journal has 1000 submissions with only a few outstanding to be selected for publication.
It is thus always recommended to cross check all the botanical names, person’s name, any chemicals used, scientific terms etc. which might be out of reach for a spell checker.
A spell check program might also fail to catch any mistake if you placed, say, “cheater” instead of “teacher” or “manure” instead of “mature”. There are a number of other common mistakes with words which an author must be careful with, such as:
- Affect or Effect
- Less or Fewer
- Their or There
- It’s or Its
- Your or You’re, etc.
It is thus always recommended to hire a professional writing service to make sure your article is error free, especially when you are short of time.
Academic writing has its strict grammar rules making it serious and professional in tone. The most important rules are:
- Avoid using passive voice- An academic article must keep the use of passive voice under 10% of the total sentenced used.
- Avoid shortening of pronouns and negations- use should not instead of shouldn’t, it is instead of it’s, etc.
- Avoid unprofessional or slang words.
- Avoid exclamation- This gives an impression of over-excitement which is a big no in academic papers.
- Use proper punctuation- Comma, semi colons, dashes must be used appropriately to properly structure the paper.
- Proper adjectives and adverbs- adding a description to nouns and verbs is not same with academic and general writing. You cannot use “beautiful blue” to describe the colour of any liquid in academic writing. Do not use any superlative description that can be difficult to prove such as longest, greatest, worst, best, etc.
- Redundancy: A clear and concise writing must avoid repetition or redundancy.
Have a look at an example:
“The study done on 500 non-smokers suggested that smoking reduces stamina. The same has been proved in a recent small study as well where 50 non-smokers were used and were found to have reduced stamina. While smoking might not kill you but it will reduce your strength and you will find yourself struggling for breath after a small exercise. Regular smoking may even reduce your walking efficiency and you will find yourself tired after a short walk.”
You got it, right? The author gives an excessive description of what it’s like to have reduced stamina.
Using words that serve the same purpose in a single sentence is another example of redundancy. Let’s have a look at some examples:
- “The experiment was repeated again”- Repeated and again. Don’t they mean the same?
- “We also need to conduct a survey as well”- “Also” and “as well” perform the same function here and hence only one should be included.
In order to avoid redundancy in your work, read each paragraph slowly and carefully and ask yourself whether you have given too much description on a single topic? Is the paragraph sounding boring and repetitive? Think about the role of each word you use in a sentence. Can removing certain words will still keep the sentence clear and concise or make it better? Are there any two words with similar roles?
Remember: Writing and editing cannot go hand-in-hand. Give yourself a break after you are finished writing. After your brain is cleared read the entire work in one go. You will notice a number of mistakes, irregularity in flow, redundancy, structure issues which you didn’t notice while writing.
It’s okay if your paper still requires sincere editing and you are short of time. You can always hire a professional editorial service who will provide you with a quick and expert polishing of your document. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org