I am an Arab, and I am not fluent in English, not even my mother tongue, and I am sure that my scientific research will have many serious linguistic errors. Can the magazine accept the research or ask me to amend the research despite the many errors in the language

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    – cag51
    Oct 28, 2021 at 3:29

6 Answers 6


Errors in writing come in many forms. Those that merely irritate pedants are less of a problem than those that impair understanding.

Since the purpose of publishing research is to inform others, it's crucial that what is published is clear enough to understand. That doesn't necessarily require grammatical perfection (and few even approach such perfection in their native languages), but it does require a certain level of proficiency in writing in addition to a lot of care.

Reviewers evaluate multiple aspects of papers, and if they find the writing in a work difficult to follow or they fear others will find it difficult to follow, it's their responsibility to report that to the editor, and indeed this can mean a manuscript is not publishable in its present form.

I am a native English speaker and publish in English, but I would never do so without having someone else read my writing first to offer suggestions for improvement. I doubt there are many people that can write clear manuscripts with ease on the first draft, so I'd strongly recommend you find others to help you with your writing before submitting for publication.


In my field of expertise, it is common that when the submitted manuscript returns to the author the first time, the reviewers point out the grammatical mistakes and typographical errors, together with their analysis of the whole manuscript content.

Sometimes, if there are too many errors, they'll ask for the author to ask help to a native in order to sort the English out. However, I can't recall a case of a downright rejection of the manuscript solely because of that.

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    On the other hand, correcting all grammatical errors and typos is not the scientific reviewer's job and you should not plan on using them to correct your English. Jul 15, 2021 at 22:12
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    I've been asked to review papers where the grammar was so poor that I didn't have a clue what the author was trying to say. In one case, from an author whose first language was English. Jul 16, 2021 at 10:46

Grammatical perfection is not required for acceptance. However, grammatical errors are distracting to read, and if frequent enough can make the paper difficult to understand. Reviewers may be harsher in their opinions of a paper that is difficult to read.

Furthermore, assuming your paper gets accepted, you probably want others to read it. Do you want people to associate your name with a paper that has grammatical errors?


Not only can it, it very often does. I can often tell if an article was written by Chinese researchers without looking at the author list, because they often use "the" in cases when the noun is supposed to be indefinite and vice versa. This usually does not take away from the content, and is a minor nuisance at best.

There are some journals that actually offer services to help with any language issues, for instance Springer Nature Author Services.

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    You can always spot papers written by native German speakers by the fact that they use "respectively" where German would use "beziehungsweise" - a word that's very hard to translate. But in this case too, the resulting text is perfectly comprehensible. Jul 16, 2021 at 10:50
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    @MichaelKay : According to the Cambridge German–English Dictionary, beziehungsweise covers three meanings, each with a distinct translation into English. The question of which translation applies would need to be determined from context. One of the three meanings is respectively. Jul 17, 2021 at 15:50
  • @JohnBentin: It's about meaning 1, and that part is unambiguous. Yet, as a native German speaker, I do have the impression that the English ...and..., respectively never quite reaches the text flow of its German counterpart. (I think the reason is that the German beziehungsweise is an infix operator which the English is not. It's funny to see a German complaining that English supplies important meaning only in postfix fashion, since we do that all the time with our verbs :-) ) Jul 18, 2021 at 11:24
  • You can see some dreadful translations here: dictionary.reverso.net/german-english/beziehungsweise for example "The conditions of the octet respectively the duet rule are complied with." (I think that the use of English in Germany is so widespread, we're actually starting to see a "German English" dialect evolve in the same way as American English and Indian English. But we're getting way off topic, sorry!) Jul 18, 2021 at 18:51

Technically "YES". But you'll have a hard time when you have reviewers. It's not easy to really evaluate when the manuscript you send doesn't make sense or doesn't sound precise enough. Most journals have author services that act as translators.

Additionally, you can also use something like Grammarly. I personally use it for doing the detailed passes for any manuscript I'm working on now. However, keep in mind that it cannot write the paper for you, so if you don't start with precise scientific/report language, it can't help you much.


It is relatively easy to learn to read another language. It takes more study & practice to be able to understand spoken language. It takes even more study & practice to become a fluent speaker or writer of another language.

For a casual conversation as a tourist, minimal fluency is fine because the impact is minimal. For a collaboration, where you will be working with others for months or years, moderate fluency is fine because you will quickly learn the key things that you need to know to communicate in the other language, and the other people will likely learn some of your language too, unless you have multiple people involved with 3 or more native languages and a single language (e.g., English for most scientific fields) in common that nobody speaks natively.

But writing a journal article (or a blog or a newspaper article or anything in between) for a large audience (large being a relative term - 100 top people in your field is large when the rest of the time you are working with 2 or 3 of them) requires clear and accurate language to be successful.

My recommendation is to find a colleague - either someone else at your own institution (even if they are in a slightly different field) or at another institution (in your field of expertise) who is a native or very long-time English speaker. Have them work with you to help write the paper. Unless it is a traditional collaboration (i.e., the other person is in the same field and helping with the actual research), you write the first draft and have them review, correct & critique it. That includes spelling and punctuation errors and simple grammatical errors. But it also includes stylistic errors - the types of problems that are not technically incorrect but which would instantly make a reader think the author is not a native speaker. You are not trying to fool anyone - your CV will make it clear who you are anyway. But having really top-quality language will help the readers concentrate on the content and not be distracted by the mechanics.

If the person who helps is in the same field then, field and amount of effort dependent of course, they may merit being listed as a co-author. If they are in an entirely different field then listing in acknowledgements is likely more appropriate.

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