Economies of signs in writing for academic publication: the case of English Medium “National” Journals

Lillis, Theresa (2012). Economies of signs in writing for academic publication: the case of English Medium “National” Journals. Journal of Advanced Composition, 32(3/4) pp. 695–722.


The centrality of publishing in academic journals to academic knowledge work globally is largely taken as a given. Publishing is a defining aspect of scholars’ labour in the academic world, tied to both current and possible future material conditions in which they/we work. The aim of this paper is to focus on one part of this knowledge work, the production of English medium “national” journals in local contexts where English is not the official or widely used medium of communication yet where English, in a global context, is increasingly viewed as the “academic lingua franca.” The paper begins by outlining the longitudinal study from which this focus emerged, followed by a discussion of case studies of four English medium “national” journals in the field of psychology located in four southern and central European national contexts: Hungary, Slovakia, Spain and Portugal. I argue that a focus on the specific phenomenon of EMN journals brings into sharp relief the nature and workings of the dominant knowledge economy and also illustrates the ways in which some of the key ideological values, including a market model of academic knowledge production, are to some extent being challenged. A goal of this paper is to explore this particular fragment of the academic knowledge making world—what scholars are doing, why and under what conditions —to illustrate the need for closer scrutiny of the practices surrounding academic production and to open up debate about what kind of practices we want to be involved in and why.

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