A friend of mine in another Asian country who publishes regularly in top journals and has long list of publications, including both books and peer-reviewed articles, forwarded these reviewer’s comments to a submission of hers. The author of the article in question observed…

BTW it took eight months to get this small amount of review work back! An ABI journal from ____ University — and to be published each author must first subscribe to the journal — a USD35 cost.

The reviewer’s comments were limited to:

The writing of this paper is confusing and difficult to follow. Though the topic seems to be interesting, the English writing skills of the author impedes the overall quality of this paper. The abstract is confusing and doest not accurately reflect the focus of the paper.

The constant reference to the diagram within the paper itself distract the reader from the fact written.

Thought this paper does need a lot of editing work, I feel the underlying topic is interesting and I will look forward to reading it once it has been revised.

The poor quality of the English here, from the subject-verb (dis)agreements that pepper it to that brilliantly crafted second sentence, makes me think that reviewer either never read the article, or is not capable of comprehending English.

Several of my friends, including the redoubtable Clyde Warden, who also publishes regularly, have run into this problem of reviewers overseas who diss perfectly acceptable English simply because it originates from a foreign address. I have run into this problem as well. There seems to be a built-in bias against articles originating from foreign addresses among US journal reviewers. Once the author’s name is removed, a “they-must-not-be-able to-speak-english” circuit fires in the reviewer’s brain, and that’s that…..