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New book examines the struggle for linguistic equity in global academic publishing

Book Examines the Struggle for Linguistic Equity in Global Academic Publishing

In a globalized world, English is now commonly considered to be the global language of academic journal publishing. The global push for scholars to write and publish in English originated more than three decades ago in Europe and Asia and has accelerated and spread around the world in the past 15 years. But the shift to English has created considerable pressure on many researchers around the globe to write in a foreign language. It has also meant that knowledge produced in those countries is not distributed in local languages for the benefit of local communities.
These issues are playing out in similar ways across disciplines and geographical boundaries. In their new book Global Academic Publishing: Policies, Perspectives, and Pedagogies (Multilingual Matters, November 2017), co-editors Mary Jane Curry, associate professor at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, and Theresa Lillis, professor of English language and applied linguistics at The Open University, United Kingdom, argue for a thorough critique of the notion that English has become the lingua franca of academic publishing and a better understanding of the inequity that results from having one language as the dominant language.  
“There are deep-seated problems with using one language for publishing,” says Curry. “Despite the belief that English is a global language, not everyone has access to it, either for reading or writing research, and there’s a fundamental critique that it’s unfair to accept English as the dominant language for academic publishing. More than the English language itself, it’s a question of uneven research investment around the world and having control of highly prestigious journals in the United States and other English-speaking countries.”
Their book, the first to be issued as part of a new book series on knowledge production they are editing for Multilingual Matters, an international independent publishing house in Bristol, United Kingdom, takes a critical look at and expands the boundaries of research on the field. While previous work has looked at the effects of the spread of English in the global publishing marketplace and documented the injustices of publishing in English, a key aim of this new book is to broaden the scope of the earlier work. The 24 book contributors represent countries around the world, many of which have not contributed research to these dialogues in the past.  
Global Academic Publishing reports on the state of academic journal publishing in a range of contexts, including locations where pressures to publish in the English language have developed more recently than in other parts of the world. The collection follows the pathway of these pressures to publish in English to show how these pressures affect scholars and explores the boundaries of where global academic journal publishing is going. The book also takes a fresh look at the practices of journals and journal editors confronting pressures to use English and to be included in high-status journal indexes. A section on research on pedagogies to support multilingual scholars in their publishing efforts concludes the book. Overall, the volume traces how the publishing enterprise has changed within the evolving landscape and highlights innovative research conducted by scholars from various countries on evaluation policies, publishing and journal editing practices, and pedagogies.
A common critique across the book explores how English ideology has become embedded in all aspects of journal publishing. Curry and Lillis emphasize the effects of this trend on the real-world practices of academics who do not always have a full linguistic repertoire in academic English and who may not feel able to express their fullest selves in the profession because of the available tools and resources.
“The current neoliberal economic moment creates a mindset in higher education that both institutions and individual researchers should always be doing more and aiming for higher rankings, but we need more conversations about why we are doing this and why we don’t make research publications available to everyone,” Curry adds.
In addition, with the growing use of English in academic publishing, other issues of inequity arise in publishing, such as a system that has become highly metricized, in terms of journal and university rankings. It places well-funded research universities at the forefront of the field. The metric-driven indicators, Curry explains, negates any other view of quality. “It doesn’t take into account the value of a research problem or how valuable the research could be to society,” she says. “Instead, it flattens out the landscape by making all research look the same when, in fact, it’s not.”
Lucia Thesen, of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in a review of the book states, “This timely collection sheds light on how publishing policies and practices are shaping global academic knowledge-making. Its impressive geolinguistic reach, with attention to a wide range of contexts and many contributions from beyond the Anglophone centre, brings a richness and nuance that makes it a powerful inaugural text for the new Studies in Knowledge Production and Participation series.”
Curry and Lillis, lead researchers in the field, have been exploring the growing dominance of English in academic publishing for 16 years. They are the authors of A Scholar’s Guide to Getting Published in English: Critical Choices and Practical Strategies (Multilingual Matters, 2013) and Academic Writing in a Global Context: The Politics and Practices of Publishing in English (Routledge, 2010).

Curry focuses her research on academic writing and knowledge production, particularly by multilingual scholars and graduate students. She has co-authored or co-edited six books and written numerous articles and book chapters on global publishing, teaching English as an additional language, the experiences of immigrant students learning to write in English at community colleges, and other research in language and literacy. In addition to serving as co-editor of the book series Studies in Knowledge Production and Participation, she also co-edits the Brief Reports and Summaries section of TESOL Quarterly, the flagship journal in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages. In 2014, Curry was a Fulbright Faculty Scholar, teaching and conducting research in Chile.