Communications to the Editor |

Quality of Writing in Manuscripts FREE TO VIEW

Edward Carter, COL, MC
Author and Funding Information

Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA

Correspondence to: Edward Carter, COL, MC, MD, Chief, Department of Pediatrics, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA 98431; e-mail: Ted_Carter@msn.com

Chest. 1999;116(5):1494. doi:10.1378/chest.116.5.1494
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To the Editor:

I recently read the editorial concerning the quality of writing in manuscripts (May 1999).1 As a reviewer for CHEST and several other journals, I fully agree with your comments. While I review the manuscripts primarily for their scientific merit and clinical relevance, I am certainly influenced by the quality of the writing. I am frustrated by how poorly some authors use the English language. However, while one can usually guide authors to shorten and better organize their manuscripts, it seems much more difficult to get them to improve their grammar and sentence structure. My sister is a tenured Professor of English at an Ohio college, and I often have her review my manuscripts; most authors are not as fortunate to have a similar resource. To help the editors of CHEST determine how well we reviewers think the manuscript is written, I would suggest the following: include a section or question on the review sheet that asks the reviewer how well he/she thinks the paper was written from a technical, English language standpoint. Perhaps the reviewers should even be asked to comment specifically on whether the paper needs substantial rewriting with respect to grammar or sentence structure. Within this past year, I reviewed a paper for CHEST. The paper was significantly revised and then approved for publication. This paper deserves to be published because it adds important information concerning a rare disease to the medical literature. However, even though the revised manuscript was much improved, it still was not particularly well written from the standpoint of English grammar. Should we have sent it back to the authors for rewriting? I am not sure that would have helped. It is quite possible that the first author would not have known how to improve upon his writing and that the senior authors might not have had the time to rewrite it. Many papers are written by junior investigators who are just relearning how to write. Nevertheless, I think that we should specifically address the issue of “good writing” in our reviews.


Block, AJ (1999) The results are not perfect [editorial].Chest115,1223. [PubMed] [CrossRef]




Block, AJ (1999) The results are not perfect [editorial].Chest115,1223. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
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