AI-based academic language platform Writefull piloted by Open Access publisher Hindawi Limited

Open access publisher Hindawi has successfully piloted the use of Digital Science portfolio company Writefull (an AI-based language platform which authors can use on manuscripts for submission) to improve the grammar, spelling and specific scientific language in their work.

Hindawi is the first publisher to integrate Writefull into their submission workflow, helping their authors improve their work before submission. Writefull applies machine learning, trained on millions of published scientific papers and suggests improvements to grammar, spelling and academic language usage. These suggestions are based on real-world, context-specific usage rather than on a fixed set of grammatical rules. 

During the submission process, Hindawi authors are invited to use Writefull, free of charge, to improve their manuscript. Writefull highlights language suggestions and 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.

The pilot, which began on 9 December, allowed authors to use Writefull prior to submission to Hindawi journals. Uptake, particularly from Chinese and US authors, has been impressive. To date, over 1,600 manuscripts have been submitted for revision to the service. Hindawi will 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 rate of requested revisions, and higher acceptance rate.

“We knew Writefull gave solid feedback when we started the pilot. But whether authors would accept the invitation to use the tool and then also take the time to revise their text, still had to be seen,” says Dr Sarah Greaves, Chief Publishing Officer at Hindawi.

She continues: “Results from our trial show our authors are engaging enthusiastically – Writefull is offering on average 100 suggested corrections per manuscript and authors are accepting 70% of these on average, with over half of authors accepting 87% of the suggested corrections. We have also seen that a number of the authors who previously only sporadically visited our journal submission and information pages have been coming back and interacting more often since Writefull has been in place.”

Mathias Astell, Director of Marketing at Hindawi, said: “We are interested in facilitating as seamless and worthwhile an experience as possible for our authors and so we are excited about the prospect of a tool like Writefull. We hope it helps to level the playing field for researchers from non-English speaking countries by ensuring valid research doesn’t fall at the language hurdle. The initial insights from this pilot seem to show that researchers are finding Writefull useful in checking and correcting the language used in their manuscripts.”

“We now know that our authors are keen to use Writefull.” says Dr Greaves: “Improving our author, editor and peer reviewer service is at the heart of what we are doing at Hindawi. Through our yearly editor surveys we know our dedicated editorial boards want to help researchers improve the clarity and written language of their manuscripts. Working with Writefull we hope we are addressing our editors’ feedback while supporting our authors to improve the accessibility of their written work.”