Some time ago, I enrolled in a PhD programme and at the same time I started a full-time job. The full-time job became so time-consuming that progress on PhD related duties became really slow. As a result, I decided to terminate my PhD studies, however I would like to finish a paper that I have worked on.

Currently, the paper containts the estimations with results and the approx. fifth version of text, that makes sense to me. Unfortunately, my supervisor tells me that the text needs to undergo some changes in order to bring it closer to the "academic English".

As I do not intend to continue an academic carreer, I have no use for learning academic English beyond the scope of my Bachelor and Master theses. Hence, forgoing one or two month's evenings/weekends just to learn academic English well enough to publish is something I am unwilling to do.

What would you do in my position? Get someone else on the paper and give them co-authorship for editing the text into publishable form? Or something entirely else?

Any input is much appreciated, Daniel

  • 1
    It takes me a lot more than five versions to get a manuscript ready to submit to a journal. Sep 10, 2015 at 3:35
  • There are journals that publish poorly written papers. Sep 10, 2015 at 3:37
  • Could many people learn academic English in just "one or two month's evenings/weekends", to a standard sufficient to publish? I'm sceptical; but then I am a slow learner of writing style, so maybe it's just me.
    – 410 gone
    Sep 10, 2015 at 7:22
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    "As I do not intend to continue an academic carreer, I have no use for learning academic English beyond the scope of my Bachelor and Master theses." Using the same argument, you do not need to publish the paper either. You probably have a basic misunderstanding. It is the written paper (presenting the work) that gets published and not the work behind the paper. So, if you want to get published you need to write the best paper you can. So, no will to improve the paper (nights, weekends like the rest of us) => no publishing.
    – Alexandros
    Sep 10, 2015 at 11:31

2 Answers 2


Why not ask your supervisor to give you examples of what editing he wants done and see if its something you can do on your own? If you've worked on the paper up to the 5th draft, it seems a shame to then allow someone else to take the credit for your own hard work. You can also read some good books on academic style of writing. Depending on your field, I can recommend this book. I'm sure there are many others.

So in summary, if I were in your shoes I would do it on my own. I'm sure good writing skills is something that's valued even in most jobs.

  • Simply put, the supervisor's comments are something like "its not readable enough and the reader gets confused". The supervisor has lots of papers under his belt and says it is a normal situation that I find the paper absolutely clear while to somebody else its unreadable. Just during the last two weeks, I wrote two bachelor/master thesis reviews so I know what a badly written academic text looks like. And I feel that my paper is really easy to read. That's basically the main problem, I do not know how to rewrite the paper because I don't know the 'problem' and the 'desired solution'. Sep 9, 2015 at 21:29
  • @DanielBencik, I see what you mean. In that case, why not get a second opinion from another academic who knows about your field? Do you have any other collaborators or is it just you and your supervisor? Alternatively, you can get other trusted PhD students to read through it and get their opinion.
    – John_dydx
    Sep 9, 2015 at 21:40
  • Most faculty are not trained to teach writing. So they may not give good instructions on improving writing style. Sep 10, 2015 at 3:32

Judging by your grammar and spelling in this question your advisor might be being kind and telling you that you need to correct the grammar and spelling to a readable level.

"Get someone else on the paper and give them co-authorship for editing the text into publishable form?" No. Authorship should not be granted for editorial changes, only for significant work towards the research the paper presents. The "paper" is just an output, it is how the research is often measured but that is all.

  • Thanks. I am afraid that it is not spelling/grammar, as that gets sorted out when we hire people to proofread the papers before submittings. Sep 9, 2015 at 21:23
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    Be careful about making assumptions about what constitutes authorship: this varies hugely between fields - see the many other questions here on that topic to get an idea. In many fields, if someone turns lay prose into academic English, they could end up as first author. In other fields, they might just get an acknowledgement, or not even that.
    – 410 gone
    Sep 10, 2015 at 7:20

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