Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Ambivalences: Voices of Indonesian Academic Discourse Gatekeepers

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Ambivalences: Voices of Indonesian Academic Discourse Gatekeepers

Article excerpt


This article presents voices of academic discourse gatekeepers in the Indonesian context. It reports on results of an attempt to re-read (re-analyze and re-interpret) the transcripts of interviews with Indonesian journal editors/reviewers in the area of English Language Teaching (ELT). The interviews were made with five editors/reviewers of two Indonesian-based journals. An interesting surfacing issue is the ambivalences or paradoxes experienced by the editors/reviewers. Directions for future research and implications of the ambivalences for more balanced world academic discourse will conclude the essay.

Keywords: ambivalence, reviewers, editors, journal, ELT, academic discourse gatekeepers, Indonesia

1. Introduction

Concerns about the voices (ideas, thoughts) of both native speakers and non-native speakers of English, be they through writing or speaking, have been proliferating (see e.g., Kang, 2006; Tsui, 2007). Such concerns have been the prime locus of narrative research (see e.g., Blanton, 2009; Hayes, 2010; Nelson, 2011; Schnee, 2009; Xu and Connelly, 2010). Whilst Kang (2006) analyzed and compared some cultural voices of Americans and Koreans in their narrative writings, Tsui (2007) researched into the voices of a professional having a career in the area of teaching English as a foreign language in the academic context of China. In the Indonesian academic context, studies carried out by Mirahayuni (2002) and Adnan (2004) can be deemed to exemplify these kinds of concerns.

In her discussion of the writer's performance in writing research articles (RAs), Mirahayuni (2002) did not attend to the voices of parties other than the research article writers themselves. Adnan (2004), to some extent, makes reference to journal editors in explaining the citation behavior of Indonesian RA writers, which reflect their ideas about citation practice. It seems that Mirahayuni (2002) has relegated to the idea that it is sufficient to know the Indonesian writers' writing performance and voices by inferring them from the texts they produce. This is what has been extensively done by content analysts (Fraenkel and Wallen, 2003). However, we need to keep in mind that the realization of the ideas in writing, specifically research articles (RAs), is very much dependent on the evaluation and editing process of journal reviewers and/or editors, for RAs take their final forms through some chains of editing and redrafting (Swales, 2004). As such, there are parties other than the RA writers themselves who contribute to the shaping of the writers' voices in RAs.

A study more focused on the voices of journal reviewers and/or editors has been carried out by Flowerdew (2001). Taking journal reviewers and/or editors as influential gatekeepers to the realization of published articles, Flowerdew (2001) insightfully reported on the voices of international journal editors regarding the contributions of non-native English writers. Among the important points reported, he mentioned some problematic aspects of non-native English contributors. These include surface errors, parochialism, absence of authorial voice, and nativized varieties of English. He also made a specific mention of Introduction and Discussion as the most problematic sections of research articles (Flowerdew, 2001: 127).

However, voices of gatekeepers of Indonesian academic discourse have hitherto remained under-researched. Safnil (2000), Mirahayuni (2002), and Adnan (2004) who have pioneered works delving into the area of Indonesian academic discourse have not produced sufficient records of the voices. Basthomi (2007), despite his report on the expectations of the Indonesian academic gatekeepers, did not touch on the ambivalences of the gatekeepers regarding their assignment to assume the designated position as reviewers and/or editors.

Germane to the above issue, this paper will report on the results of re-reading of my interviews with Indonesian gatekeepers of academic discourse, the gatekeepers being those reviewing and/or editing academic manuscripts written in English to be published in Indonesian-based journals (Basthomi, 2006a). …

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