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The questions that deal with language errors during peer-review (1 2 to name a few) typically recommend suggesting the authors seek proofreading help from a person who is proficient in English. From my experience, it feels that most non-native speakers have no connection to such a person, and so their manuscript will keep the very same errors and get some more.

Luckily, quite a few of the language errors can be eliminated using proofreading software like grammarly or languagetool. My question is whether it is acceptable to suggest these tools in the review? How explicit can the recommendation be ("The authors should use proofreading software" vs "I'd suggest the authors to use grammarly.com")?

My apologies for the language errors! :)

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    Yes. This is a good suggestion. I have the same problem in my area. Unfortunately, it seems that most reviewers have started to ignore writing errors unless these errors make the paper completely unreadable. Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 23:15

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As a reviewer, you can only suggest, not insist. A recommendation to use proofreading software is stronger when it comes with personal experience. This is particularly important since general purpose tools do not always work well with technical language. You havee been chosen to be a reviewer because you are deemed to understand the field and obviously, you tried out these tools.

Keep in mind that some institutions are not well funded and asking someone to spend a few hundred dollars on software can be very frustrating to the authors, but it can also allow an author to petition his/her institution for getting tools they need.

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  • The two things I referenced are quite powerful at no cost. I mean, languagetool is free and open-source, and grammarly has a free tier. Some people avoid using grammarly because of privacy concerns though.
    – And R
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 16:31

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