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Improving the Quality of Submitted Research: One Ingredient for Sustainable Publishing

Insights from Charlesworth Author Services

BioOne is dedicated to a sustainable future for our publishing partners, and a healthy editorial pipeline is an essential ingredient in sustainability. With this in mind, BioOne’s Alexandra Frankel was joined by Andrew Smith of Charlesworth Author Services to speak to our journal editors about the ways language editing services can help improve the quality of submitted research and create efficiencies in the peer review process. Charlesworth has a deep understanding of the Chinese research community, and China publishes more research in BioOne journals than any other non-English speaking country. At BioOne we thrive on collaboration, and this was a perfect opportunity to join with a knowledgeable partner in service of our publishers.  

Whether you missed the April 30 discussion or want to revisit it, we would like to share some of the highlights. You can also watch the replay

Scholarly publishing is becoming more global, and the BioOne community is no exception: 50% of all papers published in BioOne journals in recent years include authors from non-English speaking countries. While international authorship can invite participation and readership from a larger community of researchers, it can present challenges to journal editors and peer reviewers—and to the authors themselves who are presenting research in a language other than their native tongue.

One of the key reasons editors cite for desk rejections is that the language, structure, or figures are so poor that the scientific merit of the research cannot be easily assessed. Further, some authors submit articles that are out of scope or otherwise don’t follow the journal’s established guidelines. For authors, submitting a paper written in poor English can lead to rejection at an early stage: their important research might be missed, or the publication of that research might be delayed.

Sustainable and healthy journals have common goals: attracting higher-quality submissions, maintaining an efficient peer review process, and encouraging global diversity among authors and readers. By incorporating language editing and publication support services, journals can make progress towards these aims as follows: 

  • Improve the quality of papers submitted to your journal(s). A well-written, well-presented paper will help ensure good research isn’t rejected out of hand: your journal can expand output without compromising scientific rigor. Authors can be encouraged to think about the quality of their English before they submit an article; some journals will incorporate a desk reject step that specifically advises the author to improve the quality of their English before being able to assess the scientific merits of the paper.
  • Support your editorial board and reviewers when you introduce workflow efficiencies into the editorial review and acceptance process. Most journals and authors want to minimize the time between submission and publication. It takes time for editors and reviewers to read and review poorly written or barely readable papers, and language editing helps streamline this initial review step. Reviewer time is also precious, as are the reviewers themselves: can we help encourage good reviewers to keep reviewing? If your journal chooses to use language editing services, be sure your review boards are aware, so they can recommend them as appropriate. 
  • Encourage diversity from a wider international researcher community where English is not a first language. Over the last decade the number of researchers in institutions across China, India, East Asia, Latin America, and Africa has grown rapidly. Journals need to bring new researchers into their fields, building submission and reading habits for the future. By eliminating language barriers to publication, you can create a larger community of readers, authors, reviewers - and perhaps Editorial Board members of the future.

Thinking beyond language editing services, additional support may be appropriate for your journal. For example, an infographic or short video abstract submitted by the author with their paper can greatly increase understanding of complex research, data, or methodology for the editor and reviewer. A plagiarism report or statistical review report accompanying the paper provides supplementary evidence of a well-considered paper.

For additional information on the services from Charlesworth which are available to BioOne publishers and offered at discounted rates, please visit our Publisher Resources page. You can also reach out to Alexandra Frankel to discuss how BioOne can assist.