“The manuscript suffer from many and numerous English using errors”: responding to negative peer review comments on the language and writing
Karen Shashok, Granada, Spain
Despite our best efforts to provide high-quality communication support to non-native users of English for research publication, peer reviewers’ criticisms of “the English” appear to be increasing. When researchers delay requests for language or editing help until after the first round of journal review, these criticisms may be justified. But what can we do if the language, writing or content are criticized even after professional translation or editing? Complaints about “the English”, especially if they are not justified, are humiliating and potentially career-threatening both for our clients and for us.
To illustrate differences between unjustified criticisms and comments that could stimulate useful text revisions, examples of problematic peer review feedback about the language, writing and content will be discussed, and participants will be encouraged to share their own experiences. Reasons for complaints about text quality will be explained as a basis for developing effective responses intended to satisfy reviewers’ and editors’ expectations, and achieve authors’ publication goals. Factors that can lead to reviewer complaints about the language or writing will be identified, and communication strategies colleagues can use to educate other shapers of research texts about professional translation and editing will be suggested.
Aimed mainly at colleagues who work with research texts that undergo peer review, this presentation will offer participants practical solutions to help researcher-authors respond effectively to complaints about “the English” in ways that are respectful of the skills and responsibilities of all actors in the writing, peer review and publication process.
Karen Shashok has been a science-technical-medical translator, editorial consultant and trainer since the mid-1980s. She has written about translation, authors’ editing, peer review, editorial ethics and open access, and has provided training for researchers and editors in Spain, the Eastern Mediterranean and Latin America. Through professional development organizations for journal editors and publishers, she has tried to explain the perspectives and experiences of researchers from emerging and resource-limited research communities to research publication gatekeepers and experts in research ethics. In 2009 she founded the volunteer project AuthorAID in the Eastern Mediterranean.