Author tutorials

Writing in English

Publishing in English allows you to reach the broadest possible audience and will help you achieve the goal that led you to publish in the first place; to add to our understanding of the world by informing other researchers about your research. English is the language researchers from all countries use to communicate with each other and 80% of journals indexed in the Scopus database publish articles written entirely in English1

For many researchers, English is not their first language, and writing and publishing may be a challenge. We have designed this tutorial to help non-native English speakers avoid some of the common errors that occur when writing for scholarly publication. Once complete you should understand the importance of good writing, be aware of common mistakes, and know how to avoid them.

You will also have the opportunity to test your learning by with quizzes as we go.

[1] van Weijen, Daphne “The Language of (Future) Scientific Communication” Research Trends Nov 2012 http://www.researchtrends.com/issue-31-november-2012/the-language-of-future-scientific-communication/

Concise Language

Subject and verb placement
Topic position
Comparisons
Proper nouns
Articles

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Idioms and Spelling

Use of “respectively”
Spelling (US/UK)
Punctuation
Size

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Overview

Why is good writing important?

Good writing is writing that clearly communicates your research. Researchers are busy people, so if your manuscript is poorly written and difficult to understand, they might not take the time to read it (or cite it later). Writing well helps others understand the work you’ve done and helps strengthen your own comprehension of your research.

High-quality writing has the following benefits:

  • Increases the chances of acceptance for publication
  • Increases the impact of an article within the research community
  • Accelerates understanding and acceptance of the research
  • Increases the faith of readers in the quality of the research.

Poorly written manuscripts frustrate journal editors, peer reviewers, and readers, and hinder their understanding of complex scholarly concepts.

Avoiding common language issues

Without even realizing it, readers will expect certain information to appear at certain places within a manuscript. This includes where information is provided in a sentence, in a paragraph, and in the sections of an article. If you don’t provide this information where readers expect to find it, they will likely become confused and will not understand your ideas clearly. By considering these reader expectations, you can greatly improve the readability of your manuscript.

Gopen and Swan1 outlined a logical way for organizing ideas within a manuscript that can improve the readability of your writing. The key concepts they proposed include the following:

  • Using short sentences
  • Keeping the verb and subject close together in sentences
  • Using the topic and stress positions to organize and link ideas within and between sentences

The following modules provide further information about these three concepts and how to apply these to your manuscript. We also highlight issues that we see commonly appearing in manuscripts submitted from non-native English speakers and provide examples on correct usage. 

1. Gopen, George D and Swan, Judith A “The Science of Scientific Writing” American Scientist Nov-Dec 1990: 550–558 (Source: or.org)


Next: Concise language

For Further Support

We hope that with this tutorial you have a clearer idea of the best ways to write in international English and how to write in a way that will help you publish your manuscript in the journal of your choice. Good luck with publishing your work!

If you feel that you would like some further support with writing your paper and writing in English, Springer Nature offer some services which may be of help.

  • Nature Research Editing Service offers high quality  English language and scientific editing. During language editing, Editors will improve the English in your manuscript to ensure the meaning is clear and identify problems that require your review. With Scientific Editing experienced development editors will improve the scientific presentation of your research in your manuscript and cover letter, if supplied. They will also provide you with a report containing feedback on the most important issues identified during the edit, as well as journal recommendations.
  • Our affiliates American Journal Experts also provide English language editing* as well as other author services that may support you in preparing your manuscript.
  • We provide both online and face-to-face training for researchers on all aspects of the manuscript writing process.

* Please note, using an editing service is neither a requirement nor a guarantee of acceptance for publication. 

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