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Language matters

02 December 2014
Volume 22 · Issue 12


Elinor Clarke, Senior Midwfery Lecturer, Coventry University discusses the importance of language and correct use of terminology when disseminating your work.

I have recently joined the editorial board of the British Journal of Midwifery and have been asked to review papers for possible inclusion in the journal. The journal receives a high number of submissions for consideration but for some authors their submission is returned to be ‘revised and resubmitted’ or ‘rejected’. Having an article returned or rejected is not uncommon; however, it can be frustrating for the author and may decrease their confidence. Articles can be rejected for a number of reasons; it may well be suitable for another journal; it may not meet the current focus of the journal or it may be poorly written or lack scholarship.

An article returned for revisions can be problematical, as the author has to find additional time to attend to the suggested changes. For some authors, the reason for a paper being returned to be revised and resubmitted may be disconnect between in the writing the language that is used and the message intended to be conveyed. Language matters because being able to say what you mean necessitates the use of words that mean what they say! An example of this is when an article focuses on a midwifery-led approach to care, suggesting normal childbirth, but the author refers to and writes about ‘patients’, ‘bookings’ and ‘deliveries’, rather than ‘women’, ‘health assessment’ and ‘births’. Authors need to be mindful of the language used when writing the original paper to reduce the incidence of a request for revisions.

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