Preprint platform Research Square exists to drive business to English-language editing factory American Journal Experts (AJE), which launched the platform in 2018. Preprint authors receive a Language Quality Score, and are then shilled to spend hundreds of dollars on AJE services:
What does my Language Quality Score mean? AJE used machine learning to develop a tool that assesses your language quality. The model was trained using more than 100,000 academic papers in all areas of study that had been scored by professional editors based on the quality of English. Your Language Quality Score reflects how the quality of English in your paper compares to the other papers in our dataset. Scores take into account all aspects of readability in English, including grammar, consistency, and clarity.
This is grim stuff: leveraging English-language hegemony to squeeze Global South scholars, by way of preprinting’s corporate capture. Why not throw in some bullshitty machine-learning claims?
Exactly no one should be surprised that Springer Nature acquired a majority stake in Research Square/AJE in 2018, the year the preprint platform launched. In a Scholarly Kitchen interview in 2020, Springer Nature’s Eugenie Regan cited the company’s ambition to transition its business from “content centric” to “service centric”:
Our vision is for researchers to be supported throughout both their publishing journey and careers, able to seamlessly access the right information, tools and services at exactly the point at which they need it; to help authors get published and create a level playing field for researchers around the world.
At many of its journals, Springer Nature now prompts authors to opt in to Research Square preprinting (“Journal-integrated preprint sharing from Springer Nature and Research Square”). No word about the English-language upsell, nor Springer’s majority stake, on the service’s about page.