While English remains the dominant language for research communication,1 non-native English speakers, or English as a second language (ESL) authors, often find themselves on the backfoot when writing and disseminating quality academic content for global consumption. Language editing tools, AI academic writing assistants, and academic English translators thus remain their best recourse in overcoming the seemingly formidable barrier imposed by their limited English proficiency.
The boom of academic writing assistants
Language solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) are gradually transforming the scholarly communication landscape. And these academic writing assistants themselves are witnessing a revolution with ongoing exponential advancements in AI, natural language processing (NLP), and other related technologies. Presently, authors have at their disposal a multitude of language editing tools or academic writing assistants that can aid them in their journey of writing a research paper. Many of these academic writing assistants and academic translation technologies are AI- and NLP-based tools, specifically trained on scholarly text, enabling them to quickly write/generate, edit, and translate academic text.
Thanks to GPT-3, a generative large language model developed by OpenAI, the landscape of academic writing assistants has become a red ocean littered with tools that claim to transform your research paper. Inevitably, as an author, you might face the dilemma of choosing the right, the best, and the most accurate academic writing assistant. So how do you identify the signal from the noise? How can an AI-based language editing tool help you publish and flourish? And how can you choose the right academic writing assistant to enhance your manuscripts?
How to choose the right academic writing assistant for you
Our previous post, “A comparative analysis of 5 AI editing tools for researchers,2” provides a detailed yet easy-to-understand comparison of 5 well-known academic writing assistants. We’ve also published a white paper3 containing a detailed assessment of Paperpal versus other AI writing assistants, including Grammarly.
Here, we aim to help you select the right academic writing assistant using a handy checklist of things to consider when choosing a language editing tool.
1. Is the tool built for academic writing: niche vs. general solutions?
Ask yourself, is the writing assistant specifically crafted to cater to scholarly content or is it a general-purpose language editing solution? But how much can English editing differ across various solutions, you might wonder.
AI-based language editing tools that are specifically trained on academic content help accurately edit and preserve more technical aspects in scientific papers—correct usage of subject-specific terminologies, units of measurement, equations, etc. A general-purpose language editing tool often misses this key aspect of academic writing and thus cannot reliably detect and/or correct scientific content in manuscripts.
Paperpal is designed specifically for academic texts. The proprietary AI model driving Paperpal has been trained on millions of academic sentences edited by professional editors, encompassing more than 1,300 subject areas. This makes Paperpal’s suggestions more relevant and useful across research disciplines.
2. How much editing coverage does the tool provide and how accurate are the suggestions?
This is one of the most important considerations when choosing the right academic writing assistant for your manuscript. Paperpal provides up to 3X more suggestions than other academic writing assistants,3 going much beyond grammar and proofreading to suggest more appropriate rephrasing/rewording of difficult-to-read sentences, even offering alternatives for clarity.
Additionally, Paperpal has a number of features that ensures it can reliably offer higher precision and accuracy than other academic language editors. These include:
- Appropriate handling of abbreviations, terminologies, SI units.
- Recognizing equations and references to prevent unwanted edits.
- Identifying key parts of the manuscript, like the title page and reference lists, to skip irrelevant suggestions in these sections.
Other general-purpose language editing tools fall short, often failing to address these key aspects when it comes to improving research manuscripts.
3. Does the academic writing assistant make it easier for you to write in English?
Authors use a multitude of features while writing, from dictionaries and style guides to academic English translators. Moving between different platforms for each of these needs can be tedious and may even introduce errors in academic writing. A built-in translation feature is a great-to-have feature for authors who are not proficient in English. It eliminates the need for authors to write their manuscript first in their native language, then have it translated, and finally verify if their translation is correct. Paperpal eliminates this hassle entirely.
Paperpal allows authors to get English translations of their sentences directly from the MS Word add-in or the web application.4 As a busy researcher author, you can now save time and effort by writing the manuscript in your native language and having Paperpal translate the text for you in real time!
4. Does the tool help you infuse strong academic vocabulary in your writing?
As researchers, you may often feel the need to search for synonyms to avoid repetitive language in your paper. However, in academic writing, choosing the right synonym that conveys the same meaning of the original word is of paramount importance (e.g., patients vs subjects, less vs. few) or it could change the intended meaning.
Paperpal comes with an in-built “contextual synonym” feature to help researchers improve their word choice based on precise, relevant suggestions from the published academic corpus.5 This eliminates the need for you to spend time searching a general English dictionary or thesaurus to find acceptable synonyms.
5. Does the tool review inconsistencies and other mistakes commonly found in research papers?
Inconsistencies in the use of subject-specific terminologies is a common occurrence in academic writing. Take for instance, alternating between mentions of Figure and Fig. in the same paper to incorrectly hyphenating words (pre-treatment vs pretreatment). Such inconsistencies can detract from the research presented in your paper and may even raise questions about the author’s ability to deliver a high-quality manuscript.
You can avoid such issues with Paperpal for Manuscript, which can quickly detect and flag any stylistic inconsistencies that emerge while writing (coming soon to Paperpal for Word and Web!)
6. Does the tool differentiate between British vs. American spelling and style?
Most academic journals require submitted manuscripts to be written in a uniform language style. Yet identifying variations in spellings and style owing to the differences between British and American English can be daunting, even for those who are fluent in the language. So how can you ensure you are consistently and correctly using the right language in your academic texts?
With Paperpal, you can automate this process. Simply set the correct English preference based on your journal requirements to get customized language recommendations. Based on your input, Paperpal will not only provide suggestions for general English words (favourable vs. favorable) but it also has you covered for a long list of scientific terms (haematemesis vs. hematemesis).6
7. Does the tool offer value for money as an effective academic writing assistant?
While every research author would want a language editing tool that can offer all the features listed above, pricing often becomes a major differentiator when choosing an academic writing assistant that works for you.
To ensure researchers across the globe have easy access to a reliable academic writing assistant that meets all these requirements, Paperpal provides up to 500 FREE suggestions every month through the Word add-in or on the web, with a choice to unlock unlimited suggestions at just $8.25 a month. Try it now!
While this is not an exhaustive checklist, the key factors mentioned in this article will help you choose the best academic writing assistant for your research manuscript. Language should not be a barrier in research communication, and you as a researcher should not have to worry about how to write! Join researchers from more than 125 countries who have chosen Paperpal as their academic writing assistant, click here to get started.
1. McKinley J, Rose H. Conceptualizations of language errors, standards, norms and nativeness in English for research publication purposes: An analysis of journal submission guidelines. J Second Lang Writ. 2018;42:1–1.
2. George EO. A comparative analysis of 5 AI editing tools for researcher. 2022. Available at: https://www.paperpal.com/blog/news-updates/industry-insights/a-comparative-analysis-of-5-ai-editing-tools-for-researchers/ (Accessed: January 30, 2023).
3. AI-based editing tools for researchers: A comparative analysis. Available at: https://www.paperpal.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/AI-based-editing-tools-for-researchers_White-Paper_2022.pdf (Accessed: January 30, 2023).
4. Baptista C. Academic translation simplified! Paperpal introduces “Translate” feature aimed at ESL researchers. 2022. Available at: https://www.paperpal.com/blog/news-updates/product-updates/academic-translation-simplified-paperpal-introduces-translate-feature-aimed-at-esl-researchers/ (Accessed: January 25, 2023).
5. Nair S. Academic vocabulary: Find the right academic synonyms in one click with Paperpal. 2022. Available at: https://www.paperpal.com/blog/academic-writing-guides/language-grammar/academic-vocabulary-find-the-right-academic-synonyms-in-one-click/ (Accessed: January 30, 2023).
6. Nair S. Writing Consistency Checks: Paperpal automates another tedious step in manuscript writing. 2022. Available at: https://www.paperpal.com/blog/news-updates/product-updates/writing-consistency-checks-paperpal-automates-another-tedious-step-in-manuscript-writing/ (Accessed: January 30, 2023).