By Cally Guerin

Mary Jane Curry & Theresa Lillis (eds), (2018). Global Academic Publishing: Policies, Perspectives and Pedagogies. Studies in Knowledge Production and Participation: 1. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

In response to increasing pressure from institutions and funding bodies for academics to make their research public, there is a great deal of advice—and anxiety—for those seeking to publish their research. Doctoral writers, too, are often caught up in this ‘push to publish’ and, as emerging scholars, they are likely to be even less well informed about the challenges and nuances of navigating the system than seasoned researchers. When I saw that Mary Jane Curry and Theresa Lillis had published a collection of essays about publishing, I was keen to get some fresh insights into the current state of play in this vexed area—and I have learnt a great deal from their new book.

Global Academic Publishing is the first volume in a new series on Studies in Knowledge Production and Participation. This edited book opens with a chapter reminding us of the ramifications for scientific and scholarly knowledge dissemination arising from the dominance of the English language in academic publishing. This concern is an enduring theme in Curry and Lillis’ work (see, for example their 2010 book, Academic Writing in a Global Context) and sets the scene for a much broader look at the world of publication.

The book is divided into four parts:

  1. Evaluation practices shaping academic publishing
  2. Scholars’ practices and perspectives
  3. Academic journal policies and practices
  4. Pedagogies for global academic publishing

The first part explores the implications of measuring publication in terms of various bibliometrics and impact. Individual institutions and national policies drive publication behaviours in terms of how they evaluate and reward scholarly work. While we’ve seen this operating in many contexts over recent years, the studies here from Norway, Hungary and China indicate how widespread and continuing the pressure is to publish research in high-ranking English-language outlets.

The next section provides case studies revealing how individuals navigate the challenges of publishing in English and the strategies implemented to manage this effectively. Despite a desire to publish academic research in local languages, English remains the dominant medium for publication on the global stage (indeed, this book about global publication is published in English).

Of course, the policies and practices of publishers themselves contribute in powerful ways to what is possible for scholars. The set of six chapters taking up the discussion from the perspective of academic journals brings new insights into the debates, and the experiments reported here are encouraging. This section includes a timely re-assessment of digital media for research dissemination and the potential of multimodality publication.

Part 4 on publishing pedagogies is especially relevant to doctoral writers. These chapters make it clear that researchers need practical support—even explicit instruction—to learn the ropes. These chapters offer useful practical models for anyone providing such support to novice writers.

Most of the chapters in this book draw on empirical studies to critique the dominant discourses and expectations of academic publishing. They reveal the gaps between policy and lived experience, as well as attempts to remedy at least some of the problems identified. I was particularly interested in the voices that are rarely heard in my own Australian context when discussing the academic publishing scene. The perspectives of scholars from Hungary, Iceland, Colombia, Kazakhstan and Mexico provide fresh and surprising insights into the challenges and barriers to participation in academic publishing in English.

I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in understanding the contemporary world of academic publishing, whether as a writer who is seeking to disseminate knowledge, or as a research educator supporting novice scholars as they navigate the complexities of publication. The pressure to publish high-level research in English is not likely to disappear soon, but it is books like this that push us to recognise the power relations at play in global knowledge production. There is much to look forward to in this new series.

Acknowledgement: Thank you to the publisher Multilingual Matters for providing a free copy of the book.