Digital Science portfolio company Writefull is an AI-based language platform which authors can use to help improve the grammar, spelling and specific scientific language in their work. Writefull applies machine learning, trained on millions of published scientific papers, and suggests improvements to grammar, spelling and academic language. These suggestions are based on real-world, context-specific usage rather than on a fixed set of grammatical rules.
In Hindawi’s manuscript tracking system, authors are now able to use Writefull, free of charge, to improve their manuscript. Writefull highlights language suggestions that authors can edit accordingly before downloading a revised version of the document to submit to the Hindawi journal of their choice – ensuring a seamless submission process for the author.
“The idea of automatic language feedback tailored to academic writing is appealing not only to researchers, but also to publishers,” says co-founder Juan Castro.
“Editors often have to return manuscripts because of poor English – sometimes after a time-consuming peer-review process. Letting authors revise the language of their manuscripts at pre-submission saves time throughout the editorial process and helps reviewers focus on the research itself, not the quality of the writing,” adds fellow co-founder Alberto Villar.
Mathias Astell, Director of Marketing at Hindawi said, "Due to the wide spread requirement to publish in English, the barrier of entry for researchers whose native language is not English is often (unfairly) higher than for those who have English as their first language. As a publisher, we see one of our core responsibilities is to support researchers to overcome the hurdles they face when submitting their research, having it impartially and thoroughly peer reviewed, and ultimately published and disseminated. Writefull has proven a useful tool already through which to help our authors overcome the language hurdle."
We have been a development partner of Writefull since 2018, providing them with access to our full article corpus to use as part of their learning set. Hindawi publishing professionals have also provided ongoing assessment of the tool and feedback on how to improve and expand its capabilities based on our understanding of author behavior and expectations – helping to shape the effective and impactful service it is today.
We began our live pilot of Writefull in December 2019, allowing authors to freely use Writefull through our submission system, across a range of Hindawi journals. Uptake, particularly from Chinese and US authors, was impressive. To date, over 1,600 manuscripts have been submitted for revision to the service. Based on the success of the pilot, we have now rolled this out to all of our 230+ journals. This means all authors at Hindawi journals are able to take advantage of Writefull's AI-based language assessment service as part of their submission experience, at no additional cost.
We will continue to monitor the journeys of these manuscripts through the peer review process to determine the impact of the improved spelling, grammar, and language. Initial results suggest that, compared to the usual averages, manuscripts processed by Writefull show a slightly lower immediate rejection rate, lower rates of requested revisions, and a slightly higher acceptance rate.
Improving our author, editor and peer reviewer service is at the heart of what we are working to achieve at Hindawi. Writefull has excellent potential as a tool that could help to level the playing field for researchers from non-English speaking countries by ensuring valid research doesn’t fall at the language hurdle.
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY.