Thursday, September 24, 2015
Book Review: A Scholar's Guide to Getting Published in English
It's time for a book review again - it actually has been too long since I wrote my last book review on PhD Talk. I haven't been reading books related to getting a PhD or PhD research anymore, since I figured I don't need to advice as I already have the degree. I'm sure though that I could always learn something from reading a book for my daily research practice. But in the mean time, I'm just reading mostly books that come for free with the newspaper - guilty pleasure!
A few months ago I was contacted with the question if I wanted to review a book called "A Scholar's Guide to Getting Published in English", and I agreed. Here's the synopsis of the book:
In many locations round the globe, scholars are coming under increasing pressure to publish in English in addition to their other languages. However research has shown that proficiency in English is not always the key to success in English-medium publishing. So rather than focus on the linguistic and rhetorical strategies involved in writing for publication, this guide aims to help scholars explore the larger social practices, politics, networks and resources involved in academic publishing and to encourage scholars to consider how they wish to take part in these practices - as well as to engage in current debates about them. Based on 10 years of research in academic writing and publishing practices, this guide will be invaluable both to individuals looking for information and support in publishing, and to those working to support others' publishing activities.
Based on the title of the book, I thought the main focus would be on writing academic English, with hints to style and grammar. There are a large number of books on this topic, and I hoped that there would be something new about this book.
What I didn't expect from "A Scholar's Guide to Getting Published in English" is that the book mainly navigates scholarly identity across languages, and I found it a very thought-provoking read:
Who do I write for when I write an article in Dutch? How different is this audience from the audience I'd write a paper for in English? - My audiences are different in both cases, and the way I bring my results is different too (more practical, applied to local market or more general, with more emphasis on the science)
Not only does the book touch upon this topic, but it also goes beyond the surface by presenting the results of 10 years of research on this topic. Every chapter contains a testimony from a non-native researcher and questions to reflect on for the reader. As such, the book goes into a dialogue with the reader. Additionally, there are plenty of (bibliographic and other) sources in the book.
The chapters of the book cover all aspects of publishing as a researcher: from navigating institutional requirements with regard to publishing (across languages, often), to selecting a journal, participating in international research networks, presenting your work and serving as an editor or reviewer of scholarly publications. The topics are as broad as our publishing work extends.
I could highlight some elements from the book here, but it wouldn't serve the dialogue style of the book right, nor would it fit the sequence of the book, which follows the publication process (from identifying your institution's requirements, to publishing, to reviewing).
If you are an academic, and you did not grow up speaking English, and function as an academic in a country of which the language is not English, you should read this book. I'm sure it will help you focus on the parameter of language in your writing.