English Editing Researcher Services

Ask Edanz Experts – What Challenges Do ESL/EFL Authors Face Other than Using English?

Ask Edanz Experts – What Challenges Do ESL/EFL Authors Face Other than Using English?

Edanz client authors primarily speak and use English as a second language (ESL) and/or as a foreign language (EFL). ESL/EFL authors must not only face the expected scientific challenges of identifying, performing, and reporting their research, they also must deal with language-related barriers if they wish to be published internationally. Our expert editors specialize in refining the language of ESL/EFL authors so they are on a level plane with those who use English fluently.

However, there are additional challenges for ESL/EFL authors. We asked some of our long-time experts to share their thoughts on the added challenges of being an ESL/EFL author.

What special challenges do you feel ESL/EFL authors face, and how can they deal with them?

Jennifer Smith
"I think there is something of a Western bias in scientific research, and that issues that are important in countries where English is not the first language are regarded as less important than those in English-speaking countries."

Richard Haase
"There are difficulties of a social, cultural, and educational nature for a student of English to overcome when writing an article in English, and more so if the theme is science. A scientific article often has a very rigid form that is structurally compressed with information. It is often difficult to develop the skill to achieve that conciseness. From my experience working directly with physics graduates in China, I believe that if authors (and now usually articles have multiple authors) perceive there is a group cohesiveness in the writing process and they want to achieve their professional objectives, they can become more proficient in their ability to write in English through active participation in the group environment."

Libby Cone
"Some people see an article with a list of authors not from their own country and automatically think “inferior.” That is why the data have to be communicated so clearly."

Kate Fox

"Choosing a target journal can be problematic, particularly for early-career scientists faced with a huge range of possible publications. Pinpointing the most important criteria for their specific needs (impact rating vs. specific/broad readership vs. open access) can be challenging. Once a journal has been selected, understanding often unnecessarily complex journal guidelines presents a further challenge, as does the construction of a carefully crafted cover letter to promote the manuscript to a journal editor. These are all areas in which an experienced scientific editor can help ESL/EFL authors."

Steve O'Shea

"As many authors with high fluency have trouble clearly articulating themselves in technical English, it is even more difficult for ESL/EFL authors to do so. That said, keep it simple, don’t overcomplicate the science, and don’t try and impress upon the reader your Scrabble or Shakespearian skills. At the end of the day, a publication has a citation lifetime, and if your research is current, topical, clearly structured, and concisely written, well, you will be fortunate to be cited 50 times in a decade. As such, it doesn’t pay to overstate the importance of your research, even though you might personally find it very important."