British vs. American English: Spelling Differences in Academic Writing

Dear readers,

In Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities we are using British English. So please adopt your articles to British English. Here are some spelling differences.

There are two main forms of written English – British and American – and most scholarly journals will indicate a preference or requirement for one or the other in their instructions for authors. Even if the guidelines of the journal to which you are hoping to submit your academic or scientific article does not specify whether you should use British or American English, you will be expected to use one form or the other consistently, and your spelling choices will need to be appropriate in every relevant instance. Unfortunately, many authors are not aware of the exact nature of the variations between British and American English, and while setting the default language in Microsoft Word to either British or American can help you catch and correct some misspelled words, it is far from foolproof. Most good English dictionaries will note spelling variations, but some dictionaries do not indicate in all cases whether the variants provided are determined by the differences between the two forms of English. Creating correct British or American English can therefore be challenging, and the following spelling notes may prove helpful as you polish your writing for publication.

• British English often uses ‘our’ (colour, behaviour) where American English uses only ‘or’ (color, behavior).
• British English tends to use ‘re’ at the end of words such as ‘centre’ and ‘metre,’ whereas American English uses ‘er’ (center, meter), but this is not always the case, with ‘parameter’ and ‘sober,’ for instance, correct in both forms of the language.
• British English can use either ‘ise’ or ‘ize’ in verbs that are always spelled with ‘ize’ in American English, so ‘organize’ and ‘specialize’ are correct in American English and can also be correct in British English, but British English can instead use ‘organise’ and ‘specialise.’
• British English uses ‘yse,’ as in ‘analyse’ and ‘paralyse,’ whereas American English uses ‘yze’ (analyze, paralyze).
• British English tends to use ‘ae,’‘oe’ and ‘ou’ in situations where American English uses only ‘e’ or ‘o,’ so ‘aesthetics,’ ‘manoeuvre’ and ‘mould’ are correct in British English, but the spelling would be ‘esthetics,’ ‘maneuver’ and ‘mold’ in American English, though these differences are not always observed.
• In British English ‘defence’ is spelled with a ‘c,’ but in American English the word is spelled with an ‘s’ (defense). The decision to use ‘c’ or ‘s’ can be tricky, however, with British English spelling the nouns ‘practice’ and ‘licence’ differently than the verbs ‘practise’ and ‘license,’ whereas American English uses ‘practice’ for both the noun and the verb and, conversely, ‘license’ for both the noun and the verb.
• British English will often retain an ‘e’ where American English will not, so ‘sizeable’ and ‘acknowledgement’ in British English are ‘sizable’ and ‘acknowledgment’ in American English, but this is not necessarily predictable: ‘judgement,’ for instance, is used in British English, except in legal contexts, in which case the correct form is ‘judgment,’ which is always the correct form in American English, and ‘knowledgeable’ retains its ‘e’ in both forms of the language.
• British English tends to use a single ‘l,’ as in ‘enrol’ and ‘skilful,’ whereas Amercian English uses double ‘ll’ in the same words (enroll, skillful).
• British English often doubles consonants when endings are added to words, as is the case with ‘focussed’ and ‘travelling,’ while American English does not (focused, traveling), but there are exceptions, with ‘enrolling’ the correct form in both.
• British English occasionally uses ‘ph’ (sulphur) where American English uses ‘f’ (sulfur), ‘sc’ (sceptic) where American English uses ‘sk’ (skeptic), ‘que’ (cheque) where American English uses ‘ck’ (check) and ‘ogue’ (catalogue) where American English uses only ‘og’ (catalog), though the two forms of the language do not always differ in the last of these ways, with ‘epilogue,’ for instance, the same in both.
• In some cases British English uses ‘mme’ (programme) where American English uses an ‘m’ alone (program), but this varies, and when ‘program’ applies to computer software, ‘mme’ is never used.

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JRTDD editor-in-chief

12 Steps for Preparing Your Academic Writing for Submission to a Journal

Publishing your academic writing in a journal is crucial to advancing your career. Standards are high, and you usually only get one shot, so don’t waste it. Here’s how to make your paper the best it can be before submitting.

1. Read the journal

Just because a particular publication covers your field doesn’t necessarily mean that your article will be a good fit. Learn the aims of the particular publication, and then take it a step further by looking at the articles they choose to publish. If your article doesn’t seem like a good match, find a different publication to submit to or rewrite your article to make it more appropriate.

2. Find the article submission guidelines

You’ll find that different publications have different requirements, and if you don’t follow them, you risk having your academic writing thrown out before it’s even considered. It would be a shame not to be published just because you exceeded their word limit or submitted your document as the wrong file type. (This service can help reduce the size of a paper that is too long.)

3. Proofread, proofread, and then proofread again

It’s not enough just to run spellcheck or read through your work once. Getting a set of professional eyes on your work is ideal, since they’ll catch mistakes that you may not realize you made. If you’re interested in working with a professional proofreader, check outproofreading options here.

4. Review your bibliography

When proofreading, it can be easy to overlook this part of your paper, but it’s important to make sure it’s free of errors. Also, you want to ensure that all sources you cite in the text are included in the bibliography, and vice versa.

5. Verify you’ve included all the conventions of academic writing

Be sure to include a title, abstract, and keywords, and your paper should contain a clear statement of purpose in the introduction, lay out your hypotheses or the questions you are exploring, detail your methodology, provide a systematic analysis, and then discuss the results in the conclusion while acknowledging any limitations of the study.

6. Rework your title

It’s possible that the title you currently have is the best option, but more often than not, there’s a better one out there. You want the title to be accurate and descriptive. Look out for “filler” words and repetition. Take the time to brainstorm new ideas, and then get outside opinions to help you make a final selection.

7. Consult with colleagues in your field

The opinions of friends and family members are valuable, but this paper will be judged by someone who has in-depth knowledge of your area of study. Get an objective opinion before you submit your academic writing to a journal. Professors and other mentors are great resources for notes on how to improve your article. (Here is a list of consultants who can help as well.)

8. Get permission

Are you using any copyrighted material? Any piece of content you took from an outside source should be cited, and you need to obtain permission before submitting to a journal. Printing something as though you own it can come back to haunt your academic career in a big way. A plagiarism check is always a good idea.

9. Develop an effective cover letter

After spending all that time perfecting your academic writing, it can be tempting to throw together a cover letter quickly. This is a big mistake. You need this letter to be as compelling as possible because the editor may not get further than reading it. But that doesn’t mean it should be longwinded. Instead, keep it short and focused, just highlighting the key points. The goal is to entice them to read more. If you struggle writing cover letters,work with a consultant.

10. Look for supplemental material

Can you add more value to your academic writing? Are there tables, graphics, or other visual representations of the data that can help support your arguments? Some journals even accept multimedia, such as video or audio files, which they may include on their websites. It’s always a good idea to get suggestions regarding artwork, tables, graphs, and other illustrations that could add value to your writing.

11. Call the editor

Even better than reading the journal to find out what they are looking for is having an actual conversation with the decision makers on the other end. Your enthusiasm and knowledge about the topic can help encourage the editor to take a look at a paper that he or she may otherwise not have considered. It’s also an opportunity to find more ways you can adjust your academic writing to be a better fit for the journal. If speaking with the editor isn’t a possibility, at least consider speaking with experts in your field before submitting.

12. Present your paper at conferences

If you’re not sure where to submit, this can be a great path to finding a publication interested in your work. Instead of you seeking them out, they may come to you. Journal editors often attend conferences with the intent to find papers to publish.

If you’ve followed these twelve steps, you’ve done your best to prepare your academic writing for publication. Be aware that it can often take three to four months to hear back from journals, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t contacted right away.

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