English and/or Russian medium publications? A case study exploring academic research writing in contemporary Russian academia

Smirnova, Natalia V.; Lillis, Theresa and Hultgren, Anna Kristina (2021). English and/or Russian medium publications? A case study exploring academic research writing in contemporary Russian academia. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 53, article no. 101015.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2021.101015

Abstract

A growing strand of work in ERPP (English for research publication purposes) explores how English is nested within research evaluation regimes in non-Anglophone contexts across the world. This paper focuses on the under-researched context of Russia, where language of research publication is at the heart of tensions in institutional, national and international research evaluation regimes: between Russian, which until the 1970s was the second-most used language in the world’s total scientific output, and English, the dominant language of global evaluation indexes.

The paper uses documentary sources to outline recent structural transformations in Russian academia, including the relatively recent insertion of English into evaluation systems. It draws on an interview-based study to explore how 16 scholars in one research-intensive university are navigating such changes in their publication practices, in three disciplines: economics, sociology and philosophy. Key findings highlight: 1) scholars’ languages of publication; 2) the challenging material conditions shaping scholars’ opportunities for research writing; 3) the pressures to publish in English alongside Russian; 4) the ways in which language choice is refracted through geohistorical ‘disciplinary conversations’ traditions; 5) the challenges of navigating different discourse communities. The value of such studies for ERPP within EAP as a field is underlined.

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