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Which sentence would be more appropriate?

"Scholars like John Smith are highly qualified to write professional essays."

OR

"Scholars like John Smith are highly qualified in writing professional essays."

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The first one is more appropriate. That said, here's a minor correction:

Scholars like John Smith are highly qualified to write essays on [whatever the subject happens to be in this case].

"Professional essays" is a bit awkward. An essay is professionally written more or less by definition. You might want to call it something else if it isn't. Unless it's a high school essay, that is, in which case no qualifications are even necessary. Just kidding.

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