Writing tools for researchers: Are AI language editing tools accurate?  

by Samuel Leslie
Writing tools for researchers: Are AI language editing tools accurate?

If you are a researcher looking to use an AI-based language editing tool, you may either need a quick check of your manuscript for typographical or missed grammatical errors or you may rely on the tool for detailed suggestions to help you finalize an error-free manuscript. Either way, it is important that the tool provides you with accurate suggestions that make it easier for you to finalize your manuscript.  

There are plenty of AI-based language editing tools available online, most of which are suitable for general writing purposes. Paperpal and Writefull are two tools that offer AI-based language editing solutions specifically designed for researchers.  An assessment by the University of Cambridge1 found that, out of 7 online editing tools, Paperpal’s suggestions were the most useful in an academic context. However, the article also mentioned that the accuracy of suggestions made by these AI tools for researchers remains a challenge and has room for improvement. Paperpal is therefore continually being improved by combining AI model training with the expertise of human editors so that the suggestions follow the nuances of academic writing and fulfill researcher needs.  

Let’s look at some of Paperpal’s features that help ensure a high accuracy of suggestions from detecting grammar errors to providing alternative word choices in writing. We’ll look at these features in comparison with those provided by the Writefull MS Word add-in. 

  1. Paperpal detects manuscript sections and applies edits where relevant: Most research manuscripts require language editing primarily for the main body text. Sections like author information and references would require mainly style corrections rather than language edits. Titles are carefully constructed by authors using specific keywords, and so academic copyeditors usually only recommend improvements relating to length and composition. Paperpal has been configured to identify various sections in a research manuscript and skip applying potentially unnecessary edits to sections like the title, author information, section headings, and references.  

As can be seen from Figure 1, the first suggestion by Paperpal is to the first sentence in the Abstract; the title and author information are excluded from editing. Writefull (Figure 2) does not appear to have any such exclusion and suggests changes to the author information, resulting in incorrect final text.  

Figure 1 

Figure 2 

  1. Paperpal detects non-English text: If you do not speak English as your first language, you may write your manuscript in your native language and use an AI translation tool to translate your text to English. In such cases, it is common for manuscripts to have some non-English text during the drafting stage. Paperpal includes automated language detection, which helps it avoid suggesting incorrect edits to non-English text. Figures 3 and 4 show how the above described scenario is handled by Paperpal and Writefull, respectively. Paperpal excludes the Korean version of the title from being edited, whereas Writefull suggests that the Korean title be deleted. 

Figure 3 

Figure 4 

  1. Paperpal Word add-in can deftly edit text containing LaTeX code: Paperpal also ensures that LaTeX equations in Word or Web are not edited (Figure 5). Similar exclusions are not seen in the Writefull MS Word add-in output (Figure 6). Writefull does offer a browser extension to edit LaTeX on Overleaf. However, with Paperpal, you can get more accurate suggestions on your LaTeX documents directly via the web editor or the MS Word add-in. 

Graphical user interface, text, application

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 Figure 5

Graphical user interface, text, application

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 Figure 6

These are just a few examples that highlight Paperpal’s focus on providing accurate, useful suggestions to our users. Our team is always looking for ways to enhance the quality of suggestions, and improvements are rolled out regularly. Apart from relevant suggestions to improve language, Paperpal also provides additional checks that help you finalize an error-free manuscript, e.g., checks to ensure consistency in style and spelling, suggestions to follow common academic writing conventions, as well as suggestions for contextual synonyms to help improve your word choices in writing. If you haven’t already, try Paperpal today and let us know what you think!  

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