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English as the Language for Academic Publication: on Equity, Disadvantage and ‘Non-Nativeness’ as a Red Herring

Publications 2019, 7(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7030047

Editorial
Editorial: Publishing Research Internationally: Multilingual Perspectives from Research and Practice
1
School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
2
Departamento de Filología inglesa y alemana, Universidad de La Laguna, 38071 Tenerife, Spain
3
Faculty of Languages and Cultures, School of Humanities, University of Iceland, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 June 2019 / Accepted: 26 June 2019 / Published: 2 July 2019
The ten contributions (nine articles and an interview) that make up this special issue of Publications revisit and interrogate many of the questions that have challenged participants in successive conferences under the title PRISEAL (Publishing Research Internationally: Issues for speakers of English as an additional language), most recently the conference held at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik in September 2018.
If there are, indeed, issues for speakers of English as an additional language when it comes to publishing their research internationally, key questions are what kind of support might be provided to help scholars deal with these issues and who the professionals best equipped to provide that support might be. “Scientific Writing for Impact Is a Learned Skill—It Can Be Enhanced with Training”: An Interview with Patrick O’Connor by Yongyan Li [1], the opening contribution to the special issue, offers some potential answers to those questions. O’Connor’s long-term collaboration with Margaret Cargill, both as co-author of Writing Scientific Research Articles: Strategy and Steps [2] and as a disciplinary insider team-teaching the many English for Research Publication Purposes (ERPP) courses they have run in China and in other parts of Asia, offer Li a rich seam to tap in terms of the role and contribution of the disciplinary expert in ERPP training courses in the Chinese context and beyond.
Concerns with equity, especially in relation to multilingual scholars in the semi-periphery, have been central to discussions since PRISEAL, La Laguna in 2007. Anna Kristina Hultgren’s paper, English as the Language for Academic Publication: on Equity, Disadvantage and ‘Non-Nativeness’ as a Red Herring [3], engages with one of the major debates with regard to equity, namely the validity of the assertion (explicit or implicit) that multilingual scholars whose dominant language is not English are at a disadvantage compared to first language users when seeking to publish their work. Hultgren adopts Cameron’s [4,5] ‘verbal hygiene’ as a lens through which to view this controversy, arguing that language is often targeted and problematised when dominant social structures are contested. Her paper calls into question the emphasis on language as an issue for EAL users and considers that ‘non-nativeness’ may not be as central to a researcher’s publishing success as are other non-linguistic structures of (in)equity. It is these structures, among them the hegemony of English and instances of ‘epistemicide’ [6], that may be more worthy of our attention than apparent or perceived linguistic disadvantage.
Kristin Solli and Ingjerd Legreid Ødemark‘s article, Multilingual Research Writing beyond English: The Case of Norwegian Academic Discourse in an Era of Multilingual Publication Practices [7], focuses on multilingual scholars who continue to publish in Norwegian while also publishing in English. Through an analysis of the introduction sections of papers published in the 1994 and the 2014 volumes of three Norwegian-language journals, Solli and Ødemark show how these scholars negotiate the choice of both language of publication and associated rhetorical patterns in the introductory section of the research article. Their findings show that while certain features of the introductions might be interpreted as the result of adopting dominant and well-documented Anglo-American rhetorical practices, the overall picture provided by examining papers published at two points in time is more complex. Solli and Ødemark join a call from participants in successive PRISEAL conferences for more research on cross-linguistic textual practices and the variety of discursive traditions in which multilingual scholars research and write about their research.
Eun-Young Julia Kim turns her attention to a body of professional practices that have also been a recurring focus of interest at PRISEAL conferences, namely the work of language professionals variously known as ‘literacy brokers’ [8], ‘author’s editors’ [9], and by the often contested term (see Matarese [10] for a discussion of this) ‘proof readers’ [11]. Kim’s paper, Korean Scholars’ Use of For-Pay Editors and Perceptions of Ethicality [12], examines how 88 scholars make use of the services of these language professionals and what level of intervention in their texts they regard as ethical. Through an examination of six potential scenarios, Kim shows that the scholars’ views on ethicality vary according to the degree to which the editor has intervened in the text. Their uneasiness about what kinds of editorial practices might be deemed unethical leads Kim to conclude that it is necessary to establish exactly where these boundaries might lie.
Normative beliefs in relation to English as a language of research publication are examined in another paper addressing the debate about whether or not English as an additional language (EAL) writers face challenges in writing academically that differ from those faced by novice writers irrespective of language background. Pat Strauss’s Shakespeare and the English Poets: The Influence of Native Speaking English Reviewers on the Acceptance of Journal Articles [13] reports on the attitudes of eight academics when describing the kinds of English they hoped to see used in articles they would recommend for publication. Strauss’s interviewees revealed a bias against language that differs from perceived native speaker use. Her data suggest that authors who do not adhere to these native speaker norms might well see their work negatively evaluated, regardless of the merits of the research reported.
In her article, The Institutional Context of ‘Linguistic Injustice’: Norwegian Social Scientists and Situated Multilingualism [14], Lynn P. Nygaard adds further nuance to the disadvantage debate. Her study examined the mediating role of the institutional context and found that the high degree of immersion in English causes ‘situated multilingualism’ where these Norwegian social scientists regard their ability to write in English as superior to their ability to write in Norwegian. At the same time, this did not mean that the participants felt a sense of ownership with regard to their writing in English that was felt by their non-Norwegian counterparts. Nygaard’s study suggests that the challenges EAL writers face are not determined only by their language background, but also by the institutional environment.
In an effort to redress the imbalance that often results from an emphasis on acquiring ERPP skills, namely a skill deficit in the writer’s other languages, Teresa Morell and Susana Pastor Cesteros designed and implemented a bilingual (English and Spanish), genre-based research writing course for Applied Linguistics graduates at the University of Alicante, Spain. In their paper, Genre Pedagogy and Bilingual Graduate Students’ Academic Writing [15], Morell and Pastor-Cesteros look into the potential transfer of gained genre competence in one language to another language, in this case English to Spanish, through bilingual instruction. They provide an account of course participants’ responses to a questionnaire and suggest that genre awareness facilitates a range of research competencies crucial to the accomplishment of further research goals leading to publication in either language.
The issue of access to key publishing resources was one that formed a central thread in the first PRISEAL conference and was addressed again in PRISEAL Silesia and once more in Reykjavik by Josep Soler and Andrew Cooper. In their paper, Unexpected Emails to Submit Your Work: Spam or Legitimate Offers? The Implications for Novice English L2 Writers [16], Soler and Cooper present an analysis of the discursive practices of ‘predatory publishers’. They argue that the interpretation of texts as spam or as legitimate messages is less than straightforward and speculate that EAL scholars might be more affected by these predatory practices. This vulnerability, they suggest, is not simply attributable to the fact that these scholars are not L1 users of English. Instead, they see the issue as one of indexicality and how the linguistic repertoire of a scholar will allow them to potentially identify certain ‘emblems’ in the texts as indices of a lack of credibility. Thus, Soler and Cooper see the mere awareness raising of the existence of, and practices employed by, these publishers as helpful but insufficient, if scholars are to be protected from being duped into paying to publish their work in these journals. Instead, Soler and Cooper call for a more profound and far reaching re-examination of structural inequalities and inclusivity in relation to scientific publication access.
The culminating article in the special issue is, in fact, a critical examination of many of the questions explored in previous PRISEAL conferences and, indeed, in the many other contexts in which we meet to discuss languages of research publication and the implications for scholars. Mary Jane Curry and Theresa Lillis’s Unpacking the Lore on Multilingual Scholars Publishing in English: A Discussion Paper [17] takes up Cargill and Burgess’s [18] tripartite model of the topic areas we commonly address in the research literature in our field (‘multilingual writers’, ‘journal practices and conventions’, and ‘developing publishable texts’). Curry and Lillis begin with a critique of the term ‘English for Research Publication Purposes’, first used, to the best of our knowledge, in Cargill and Burgess’s [19] introduction to the special issue of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes published in the aftermath of the first PRISEAL conference. Curry and Lillis see applying such labels as potentially acting to obscure the need to conduct carefully grounded studies of the many contexts in which people research and seek to publish their research. They then suggest that certain assumptions underlying the questions we frequently address might well have become so widely accepted as to have attained the dubious status of ‘lore’. In their conclusion, Curry and Lillis argue that received wisdom in relation to these topic areas of inquiry needs to be challenged by a shift in our attention towards under-researched questions in relation to multi-lingual research publications. Many of these questions are identified in Ammon’s [20] paper. It is to be hoped that authors of papers submitted to this and other journals, as well as contributors to PRISEAL conferences, will take up the challenge Curry and Lillis’s paper presents.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization: M.C., S.B., and B.A.; Writing—original draft preparation, B.A. and S.B.; writing—review and editing, S.B., M.C., and B.A.

Acknowledgments

No financial, technical, or administrative support was provided for this editorial.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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