What to expect from English grammar correction services?

By Sharang Kolwalkar, MSc, Biotechnology, St. Xavier’s College Mumbai

As a researcher aspiring to get published, you may have probably heard of manuscript editing services, or “English language editing services” as they are commonly referred to. These services are tailored for researchers, much like you, who are engrossed in the content of the paper and hence tend to neglect the language- and grammar-related aspects. Professional English language editing services make sure that the language in the paper you have so painstakingly written is flawless, does not appear non-native, and matches the elusive standards of academic writing. A paper that meets all these criteria is termed “submission-ready.” English language editing involves several aspects—optimal sentence construction, native English usage, conciseness in expressions, consistency in style and terminology usage, etc. However, grammar is arguably the most important aspect of the English language; incorrect/bad grammar is extremely conspicuous, and it is the prime sign of a poorly written manuscript. The English grammar correction services cater to this very need, helping researchers inch closer to their publication goals.

Say, now, you have a research paper that you have so carefully drafted. You wish to use an English grammar correction service, because you want to make sure that any inadvertently made grammar errors do not reduce your chances of getting published. What should you expect from such a service? Well, English grammar correction also has several aspects, ranging from as simple as correcting punctuation errors to ensuring subject–pronoun agreement. English grammar correction services involve professional editors checking for all aspects of English grammar, including but not limited to:

  • Punctuation (commas, periods, semicolons, etc.)
  • Articles (a, an, the)
  • Prepositions
  • Pronouns
  • Subject–verb agreement
  • Subject–pronoun agreement
  • Tenses
  • Verb tenses
  • Irregular verbs
  • Numbers, singular and plural usage
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs

That said, it is imperative that professional online editing services offering English grammar correction ensure that there are zero grammar errors in the edited manuscripts.

Editors typically use the “track changes” feature in MS Word so that their changes are easily discernible. They also make use of comments to explain some of their changes, but editors typically do not explain every single change made to correct grammar. Given below is a sample edit, which depicts the grammar corrections made by the editor.

The articles in this special issue discussed patients and medical knowledge crossing frontiers. My contribution is intended to provide some historical background by sketching interactions and connections between European, Islamic, and Indian medical knowledge at in the early modern period. What I can show is that the interactions across borders have a very long medical history. Today, we sometimes think that globalisation and concentrated exchange of knowledge is are a new phenomenon. Yet, in fact, exchange ofat all levels were was commonplace in earlier periods in, for example, religion, military technology, and mathematics, at least across the vast Eurasian region. My task is not to show the superiority of one medical system over another, let alone to sketch the rise of chemicalised modern Western medicine. It is merely to provide background to later articles that demonstrate contemporary interactions, with a view to showing that it hasthese have a hoary history going back many centuries.

Source: Medical Connections and Exchanges in the Early Modern World by M.N. Pearson, used under CC-BY

This sample shows the changes the editor made to correct tense usage, singular/plural usage, punctuation (comma usage), preposition usage, article usage, subject–verb agreement, pronoun usage, and subject–pronoun agreement.

Note, however, that an English language editing service does not restrict itself to just English grammar correction. It is, in fact, an eclectic mix of several aspects in addition to grammar and language, such as clarity and logic; coherence, organization, and flow; presentation, tone, and style; sentence structure; word choice, wordiness, and redundancy; latest conventions in writing; spelling and typography; formatting, layout, and referencing, etc. Moreover, some professional English language editing services, such as Editage, offer subject area-specific expertise in addition to language expertise; a language editor who is also a subject matter expert is able to add greater value to the manuscript that requires editing (e.g., an editor with a PhD in microbiology working on a manuscript dealing with antibiotic-resistant superbugs).

In a nutshell, English grammar correction services are a subset of the comprehensive editing packages offered by professional online editing services such as Editage. Whether you require only English grammar correction for your manuscript or other aspects of the editing service too will, of course, depend on your need/specifications and the nature and purpose of your manuscript.

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