Scientific Writing Tips in English for Non-native Speakers

Tips for Scientific Writing in English for Foreign Speakers As a non-native English speaker, writing scientific papers in English is challenging. When using spoken English in our daily lives, we may believe that the important thing is to speak boldly, and the listener can understand through our gestures or tone of voice. However, written language is different from spoken language. No gesture or tone of voice can support us in conveying our ideas. Misspellings or grammatical errors can change the meaning, especially in formal writing such as scientific journals, which leave no room for ambiguity. As a shortcut, we will usually use translator apps or websites like Google Translate. Unfortunately, a tool is still a tool; it will only translate what we write. More advanced features can already provide contextual translation suggestions, but it depends on the input we give. When our sentences contain fatal errors, the translation will be a mess. Readers will find it harder to understand our ideas. Even if you only have a basic command of English, there are a few special tricks you can apply If we publish our work in international journals or proceedings, our readers are not only English speakers (whether as a native language or not), but also those who rely on translators to understand English.

Understand and Express Ideas in Native Language

Many writers only write to fulfill their obligation, without understanding what they have written. This leads to convoluted writing. Plus, some writers take shortcuts by copy-pasting reference writings, which results in two things: first, the connection between one sentence and the sentence after it is not connected, and second, the level of similarity becomes high enough. Once you understand what you want to say, write your ideas down in your native language, Indonesian. Since you are writing for an international journal or proceedings, use formal and standardized language. Paraphrase the premises that you have taken from various sources using your language. In addition to proving that you understand what you are writing about, this is also useful to avoid a high level of similarity in your work.

Spelling and Grammar Editing

Check the spelling in your writing. Don’t let there be any typos. Use capital and lowercase letters as required; use capital letters only at the beginning of sentences, proper names, certain abbreviations (not all abbreviations are written or preceded by capital letters), and brands that are registered or patented using this method of writing. Also, ensure that the sentences you enter are complete: a subject and a predicate. Avoid “ghost sentences”, which are sentences that do not have a head (subject) or body (predicate). Also, avoid using conjunctions such as “but”, “and”, “or”, “because” (except as a subordinate sentence followed by a parent sentence), “whereas”, or “so that” at the beginning of a sentence. Double-check the punctuation marks you use. Use periods (not commas) to end sentences. Don’t separate subjects with commas, unless there is an adjective clause that describes the subject (independent of the predicate). As mentioned above, the best quality translation tool will only work well if the writing we input is good. Spelling or wording errors can affect the translation tool’s algorithm. This is important to avoid misunderstanding the meaning of your writing.

Put Your Writing into the Translator Tool

This is the step you’ve been waiting for! Transfer your writing to a translation tool; in this case, we’re using Google Translate. Double-check if there are any translation errors in particular vocabulary, especially those that have special meanings in that field or are proper names. For maximum results, enter only one paragraph at a time. Apart from the limited number of characters in Google Translate, this will make it easier for you in the further process.

Use the Spelling and Grammar Checker Feature

To correct spelling and grammar in your translations, use a spelling checker site, app, or extension such as Grammarly. If you already have the Grammarly extension installed on your browser, it will flag spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors directly in the Google Translate text field.

Reverse Translation

To ensure that Google translates your text the way you want, you need to reverse the translation from English back to Indonesian. If the Indonesian back translation is correct, congratulations! You’ve successfully translated your script!

By: Fadhila Fatma Pramasti

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