The PRs explained that they cannot distinguish easily between a paper written by a native speaker and one written by a NNSE and edited by a professional editing service, especially because many native speakers also use editing services: “not all good scientists are good writers, regardless of whether they are working in their native language or not, and there is no shame in using an editing or proofreading service” (Geraldine).
Nevertheless, Sara recounted a situation where she could clearly tell that the paper had received editing by Uni-Edit: “I could see where the authors had made changes after the professional English editor had edited the paper, or possibly rejected the English editor’s changes, because there were places where the English was good and flowed well, and then suddenly I would be brought up short by a strange or awkward phrasing, or something that didn’t quite make sense.” Thus, if the author has the paper edited by a professional editing service, makes amendments, and fails to have the paper proofread again before submitting the paper to the journal, the mistakes are likely to be more obvious to the PR.
However, the PRs agreed that there is a chance that having the English corrected might also unmask bad science: “If the science is bad, then the science is bad. Poor English won’t hide it” (Judith), and conversely, “Good English will not mask bad science either” (Geraldine). Judith sometimes edits a part of the paper to show the essentialness of having it edited by a native speaker, and Geraldine will make suggestions for grammatical revisions in her reviews, but she doesn’t usually edit a whole section of a paper for an author.