What every non-native author should know when making online submissions
Case: An author took the assistance of Editage for the editing and submission of his manuscript. We edited and formatted the manuscript as per the journal guidelines, but the author preferred to access the journal submission system and complete the submission himself. He had specific queries related to the submission system and we instructed him accordingly. A few weeks later, he received reviewer comments and an option to revise and resubmit the manuscript. We were in the process of editing the responses to the reviewer comments when the author received a disconcerting e-mail from the journal.
The journal editor wrote that three of the researchers whom the author had named as co-authors on his paper had written to the journal stating that they were not a part of this research. Due to this misconduct, the journal editor had withdrawn the decision of reconsidering the manuscript after revision. The author was accused of unethical practice and misconduct as he had provided incorrect information regarding his co-authors.
Action: We wrote to the client and inquired about the nature of the co-authors' contribution to his study. It was then that the author revealed that the journal was right when it said that those researchers were not actually co-authors on his paper. The author, being a non-native English speaker and ill -acquainted with the submission system, had entered the name of his preferred reviewers in the column where his co-authors were supposed to be listed. Due to this unfortunate error, he lost a chance to publish in the primary journal of his choice.
Since the author had difficulty in communicating in English, he requested us to draft a letter to the journal editor explaining the entire situation and requesting permission to resubmit the manuscript after addressing reviewer comments. The author sent this letter of apology to the journal editor. The journal editor accepted the apology but refused to reconsider the paper for publication. The author was very disheartened by this decision and decided to submit his paper to another journal.
This time he requested our help in accessing the submission system and completing the submission. We guided the author through every step of submission so that he could submit his papers on his own without any errors in the future.
Summary: The instructions on online journal submission systems can be very confusing for non-native English speaking authors. For instance, this particular journal required submission of the author and preferred reviewer names on the same page. The author erroneously entered the reviewer names in the incorrect column and was unfortunately accused of misconduct in research publication.
To minimize the chances of such errors, non-native authors should be extra cautious and take the help of an experienced colleague, a native speaker, or a professional publication support service for online submissions. Journals should also take into consideration the challenges faced by non-native authors and make their online submission systems more user-friendly, providing clear and simple instructions through the multiple steps of submission.