Closing keynote: The rise of English as the language for academic publication: On equity, disadvantage and ‘non-nativeness’ as a red herring

Hultgren, Anna Kristina (2018). Closing keynote: The rise of English as the language for academic publication: On equity, disadvantage and ‘non-nativeness’ as a red herring. In: 4th international conference on Publishing and Presenting Research Internationally: Issues for Speakers of English as an Additional Language, 14/09/2018-16/09/2018, Reykjavik, Iceland.



Over the past few decades, English has become the dominant language for academic publication across the world. Within the fields of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and English for Research Publication Purposes (ERPP), there is an unquestioned orthodoxy that scholars with English as an Additional Language (EAL) are particularly disadvantaged by the pressure to publish in English (though see Kuteeva 2015 and debate between Hyland 2016a, 2016b and Politzer-Ahlesa et al. 2016). In this plenary talk, I will challenge this orthodoxy, raising questions about the evidence upon which it is based, drawing on my own work as well as that of others (e.g. Salö 2017). Within a framework of ‘verbal hygiene’ (Cameron 1995, 2012), I will argue that the attention accorded to ‘non-nativeness’ in the literature is disproportionate to its significance for publication success. In developing this argument, I will dispute not that global academic publishing is pervaded by inequity, bias and discrimination; nor will I deny that EAL scholars’ sense of injustice is real; nor that language is often topicalized in gatekeepers’ (journal editors’ and reviewers’) discourses. Rather, I will raise questions about the extent to which nativeness/non-nativeness is the key variable determining publishing success. Addressing the conference theme, ‘Research and Practice: Moving Forward’, I conclude by proposing some reorientations for researchers and practitioners in the field. For researchers, these include a focus on ‘uptake’ as well as production (see also Lillis and Curry 2015), complementing existing approaches with quantitative and comparative ones (see also Hyland 2016a). For practitioners in the field, I will argue for a widening of the scope to include any scholar, whether non-native or not, in need of writing support.

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