I am not a native English speaker, and I am writing a paper in English (maths) with the aim of getting published in a peer reviewed journal. If I write the manuscript myself, the poor grammar would prevent it from being accepted. If I give the manuscript to a native-English speaking expert in my area of maths, they may steal my ideas. If I give the manuscript to an expert just in English, they won't be able to fully help because they won't understand the ideas comprehensively.

Would someone please guide me how to solve this situation?

  • 1
    EIther give it to a mathematician friend / supervisor who knows better English and you can trust him or learn better English yourself by studying more papers in your math area. There is probably no other way.
    – Alexandros
    Jul 14, 2015 at 4:11
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    Or get a co-author who is English speaking. That wont be stealing your ideas, it will be sharing the contribution with another co-author. Jul 14, 2015 at 4:13
  • @Jeromy Anglim: By editing my OP, I now see that my writing skill is worse than I thought it was!
    – user35727
    Jul 14, 2015 at 4:17

2 Answers 2


In mathematics, it is entirely reasonable and acceptable to begin by posting a draft on arXiv. Once it's up online with your name and a date-stamp, you need not fear anybody stealing your ideas, and can work on improving the manuscript, both in content and grammar, with whatever combination of colleagues and collaborators you find best suited for the task.


A growing number of journals and publishers now recognise that quality of written English is not automatically correlated with academic merit. In life sciences, I know several publishers who actively recommend 'language polishing' services as it allows peer reviewers to focus on scientific issues rather than correcting language. For example:

At the same time it is important to recognise that substantial editing that is not acknowledged within the manuscript can be considered unethical. Some journals have a strict policy of acknowledging any writing or editing assistance (for example, NEJM). See this article for a discussion of some of the issues.

  • To clarify for L.G. I know some of the English-language editing services use academics in your field (e.g. Cactus communications), although they are not cheap. You could look into small grants etc through your institution or science foundations that might support this sort of thing. As a reviewer I have often tried to assist with suggestions where needed on papers that would otherwise be suitable to publish - but this is not in the scope of what is expected of reviewers.
    – The_Tams
    Dec 26, 2018 at 7:13

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