Critiquing the Notion of English as the Global Lingua Franca for Academic Journal Publishing

We recently published Global Academic Publishing edited by Mary Jane Curry and Theresa Lillis. In this post the editors examine the idea of English as the global language of academic publishing.

It is commonly asserted that English has become the global language of academic publishing. The push for scholars in many parts of the world to publish their research in English-medium journals has grown markedly in the past two decades, affecting researchers working not just in the natural sciences but also in the social sciences and humanities. This trend has developed against a backdrop of neoliberal policies in many global contexts that have strongly affected the aims, activities, and working conditions of higher education. In many cases, using English and writing for publication in English signal the ‘internationalization’ of higher education, with little attention being paid to what might be lost in this move or what the costs may be to individual academics and to knowledge production more broadly. In fact, the shift to English means that knowledge published in English may not be available in local languages, hindering the development of local research cultures and societies more broadly.

In the past 25 years, research has documented many of the barriers to multilingual scholars gaining access to the global academic marketplace (in English); their perspectives on their successes and challenges; and the policy conditions that foster the growing pressure to publish in English. The chapters compiled in our new edited book, Global Academic Publishing, critically examine how these pressures and policies play out in specific geographic contexts, some of which have not been previously explored. The book’s section on policy explores the effects and inequities of both implicit and explicit policies for the use of English in academic knowledge production. Implicit policies for English-medium publishing include the nesting of English in many of the metrics now being used to evaluate the work of academics, for example, the journal citation indexes published by the Web of Science and journals published by Elsevier, Springer and other European and North American publishers. Evaluation systems driven by such metrics tend to ignore other ways of evaluating research quality and sidestep deeper conversations about what topics and questions are valuable and to whom.

The perspectives section of the book investigates the dynamics of academic publishing in English that continue to develop even in contexts that have historically had high levels of access to English such as Scandinavia and western Europe, where pressures for English have an impact on scholars’ multilingual identities and engagement with knowledge production for various audiences. The book’s section on journal publishing pushes the boundaries of research on academic publishing to look at how editors respond to pressures for English-medium articles in terms of their journals’ policies and practices. It also examines the rising phenomenon of open access publishing including those unscrupulous open access publishers who prey on scholars’ desires for English publications. The final section of the book draws together research critically examining different types of pedagogies supporting scholars and graduate students in their publishing efforts, from courses to workshops to self-support structures using mobile technology.

This volume marks the launch of the new book series we are editing, Studies in Knowledge Production and Participation.

Mary Jane Curry and Theresa Lillis

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like International Student Engagement in Higher Education by Margaret Kettle.

 

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