I am occasionally asked by other students in my research group to read their manuscript/poster before it is submitted/presented. I would assume that the main reason to get another person in the same field to read your work before submitting it is to check that the content comes across clearly and without errors (although in my case I am also one of the native English speakers in the group so this might also be a factor) and that this is something different from the responsibility that the editor has.

To what extent is it acceptable to:

(1) make suggestions for fixing frequent, small grammar issues (missing articles, noun-verb disagreement etc.)


(2) make suggestions for modifying formatting even where it does not affect understanding of the work (e.g. inconsistent capitalization of labels in figures, bulleted lists that are not consistently either full sentences or clauses)?

I guess that the consensus is (1) is acceptable and (2) is less so, but I would be interested to hear other opinions as I am always somewhat uncomfortable making a large number of trivial suggestions when the content of the work is good and I find limited real issues to comment on.

1 Answer 1


Your job as a reviewer is to help improve the work, and so any suggestions that make it a better submission are fair game.

I would not hesitate to comment on any of these areas, as long as you are sure the suggestions are really an improvement (and not just a different opinion about style). The formatting inconsistencies you give as examples are certainly real issues that are work fixing.

For these small changes, fixing it yourself with tracked changes rather than suggesting it is usually more helpful.

  • 1
    When I'm proofreading colleagues' work, I use a red pen for corrections, and a green pen for suggestions - these include also my opinions about style, because I might have written something in a different way, that the author didn't think about, but may end up liking it more than his original form. So in the end, in the author's eyes, this will make a better submission.
    – user68958
    Feb 5, 2018 at 1:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .