Academic journal article International Journal of Doctoral Studies

Development of English Academic Writing Competence by Turkish Scholars

Academic journal article International Journal of Doctoral Studies

Development of English Academic Writing Competence by Turkish Scholars

Article excerpt


The study of Non-Native Speakers' (NNS) scholarly writing ability is a topic of increasing interest for two main reasons. First, the presence of NNS students in Anglophone tertiary institutions has increased over the last decade, which places particular demands on faculty. Johns and Swales (2002), Paltridge (1997), and Jenkins, Jordan, and O'Weilland (1993) have also documented the growing trend to write doctoral dissertations in English, irrespective of whether the dissertation is submitted in an Anglophone country, which similarly imposes additional burdens on faculty and students. Jenkins et al. (1993) discussed the extra burden placed on supervisors by NNS doctoral candidates through the additional time spent correcting drafts (language and organizational problems) and support needed to assist NNS candidates in successfully completing the writing of their dissertations.

Second, whereas NNS publications in ostensibly international journals were once scarce (Swales, 1987), in recent years there has been a notable increase in NNS Research Article (RA) submissions to Anglophone journals. Johns and Swales (2002) have also observed a tendency across the disciplines of journals originally published in other languages to switch to an English-only policy. More recently, Misak, Marusic, and

Marusic (2005) have noted that in non-Anglophone countries journals are frequently founded with an English-only policy.

The imperative for academics to publish in English in international journals was confirmed by the Turkish scholars interviewed in this study (the interviewees remain anonymous and are referred to throughout as Respondent 1 [R1] etc.):

R7 "Universities require staff to write in English; there's no kudos for Turkish-written texts. Social Science Citation Index journals don't hold Turkish journals."

R3 "In order to exist in academia you have to publish in English, there's no alternative in the Social Sciences. There are no Turkish journals in the international journal citation index. I write in Turkish because I feel the responsibility to return something to my country."

The dominance of English in international research and education has led to discussions in the literature (Johns & Swales, 2002; Misak et al., 2005) on the pressure to 'exist internationally' through publishing in English, which leads to an evident skewing of research towards topics of global as opposed to local interest, and accords a natural advantage to Native Speaker (NS) researchers. While the first issue is beyond the scope of this paper, the perceived advantage of NS is of central concern to this study. It is indisputable that NS scholars enjoy certain linguistic privileges a priori, and the increase of research undertaken in English by NNS has raised issues of scholarly language requirements and editing responsibilities that were previously less acute. Nevertheless, as the plethora of NNS publications in all disciplines attests, many NNS scholars appear to compete on an equal footing with NS scholars. This study explores the experience of highly successful NNS scholars in developing Second Language (L2) academic writing competence with the purpose of identifying the strategies they consciously or unconsciously developed in order to pursue a competitive academic career of research and publication in English.

Although this study will make particular reference to publishing RAs in English, consideration is also given to the scholars' experience as doctoral students in light of the blurred distinction of writing genre (that is, scholarly or professional writing tends to begin earlier and is not always clearly distinguishable from writing one's doctoral thesis). The focus of the study is on how the writing competence of a scholar progresses from a level typical of doctoral students to the style and level of sophistication commonly found in professional scholarly writing. …

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