Writing and manuscript acceptance or (gulp) rejection

June 9, 2009 at 12:23 pm 2 comments

What role does writing play in the acceptance or rejection of manuscripts? Here’s what some of your favorite journals have to say.

(By the way, It’s worth noting that at journals such as Bioinformatics, PLoS ONE and the Journal of Computational Biology, submitted manuscripts are not copyedited extensively after being accepted. This means that the burden falls almost entirely on you to make your writing as clear and accessible as possible. PLoS Computational Biology also asks its reviewers to assess whether the writing is accessible to non-specialists.)

PLoS ONE (author guidelines):

“PLoS ONE staff do not copyedit the text of accepted manuscripts; it is therefore important for the work, as presented, to be intelligible. Perfect, stylish English is not essential but the language must be clear and unambiguous. If the language of a paper is poor, Academic Editors should recommend that authors seek independent editorial help before submission of a revision. A list of scientific editing services can be found in the PLoS ONE Guide to Authors. Poor presentation and language is a justifiable reason for rejection.”

Nucleic Acids Research (author guidelines):

“Manuscripts must be clearly and concisely written in English. The Editors reserve the right to reject without review those that cannot adequately be assessed because of a poor standard of English. Authors whose first language is not English are encouraged to have their manuscript checked by a native English speaker. If you have difficulty with this you can obtain further help and information at http://www.oxfordjournals.org/for_authors/language_services.html.”

The above link also gives insight into what the journal wants by stating that editing will:

  • Correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Delete redundant words and phrases
  • Replace inappropriate words and generally improve clarity
  • Ensure that the tone of the language is appropriate for an academic journal

PLoS Computational Biology (author guidelines):

“Authors are encouraged to decide how best to present their ideas, results, and conclusions. The writing style should be concise and accessible. Editors may make suggestions for how to achieve this, as well as suggestions for cuts or additions that could be made to the article to strengthen the argument.”

PLoS Computational Biology (reviewer guidelines):

“Is the manuscript well organized and written clearly enough to be accessible to non-specialists? Would you recommend the author seek the services of a professional science writer?”

Bioinformatics (author guidelines):

“Papers must be clearly and concisely written in English and within the recommended length. In the interests of speed, manuscripts are not extensively copyedited and authors are requested to check their texts carefully before submitting them so that proofs will require only correction of typographical errors.”

Journal of Computational Biology (author guidelines):

“Either American or British English is acceptable, but be consistent. Text must be informative without being terse or wordy. Manuscripts will not be extensively copy-edited and it is expected that proofs will require only typographical corrections. There may be an extra charge for extensive changes made in proof.”


Entry filed under: What journals say.

Scientists on scientific writing, part 2 What’s your point?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tyrone Hughes  |  July 26, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I would like to know if there is any programs that I can use to put my work in manuscript format

    Tyrone Hughes

    • 2. mmfisher  |  August 28, 2009 at 9:34 am

      I know this is a very late reply to your comment, but I just learned yesterday of such a program: http://www.latex-project.org/.

      Some people in my group have used this when preparing manuscripts for publication, and it sounds like you can create a template to use over again.

      Hope that helps…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Science of Scientific Writing

This article describes what readers expect when they read - and how scientific writing often violates those expectations.

%d bloggers like this: