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Review of  Academic Publishing: Issues and Challenges in the Construction of Knowledge


Reviewer: Pejman Habibie
Book Title: Academic Publishing: Issues and Challenges in the Construction of Knowledge
Book Author: Ken Hyland
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Sociolinguistics
Subject Language(s): English
Issue Number: 27.813

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Review:
Reviews Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry

SUMMARY

“Academic Publishing: Issues and Challenges in the Construction of knowledge” presents a multifaceted picture of some of the key issues surrounding knowledge production and dissemination through scholarly publication in the current academic context. The book consists of nine chapters which are thematically independent but all together weave a narrative about scholarly publication as the focal point of the book. The book begins with a preface that provides an overview of the significance and imperative to publish in English-medium scholarly journals in current academia and outlines the author’s approach to data collection and ethical issues in writing this monograph.

In Chapter One, Hyland focuses on the “publish or perish” ideology governing current scholarship and its social and intellectual implications for the professional lives of academics. More specifically, he deals with the underlying reasons for scholarly publication. He highlights the fact that, traditionally, inspirations for scholarly publication mainly came from the classical mission of academia, as well as the scholarly and ethical responsibilities of academics for knowledge construction and dissemination. However, in today’s global context of scholarship, material rewards, instrumental motivations, and assessment regimes justify academic productivity of institutions and scholars to a greater extent.

In the next chapter, the author highlights the fact that although the participation of peripheral English as an additional language (EAL) scholars is increasing in global scholarship, the knowledge production and dissemination industry is still controlled by a gatekeeping system dominated by the Anglophone centre. He explains that this screening system defines and hierarchically categorizes knowledge as local versus global and determines what knowledge is worth dissemination through prestigious international journals. Consequently, peripheral EAL scholars face serious challenges in meeting the agendas set for them and participating in the practices of the so-called core community.

In Chapter Three, Hyland focuses on the language variable in knowledge production and dissemination in current academia. He addresses the rise, spread, and significance of English as the default language of scholarship and its implications for other languages and for the scholarly publication practices of EAL scholars. He discusses the attitudes of EAL scholars towards publishing in English and examines evidence for linguistic inequality imposed on EAL scholars as a result of the current status of English. More interestingly, he problematizes the Anglophone/non-Anglophone divide and the supposed linguistic advantage of Anglophone scholars in publication in English-medium international journals.

In the following chapter, the author points out that academic authoring is a social practice that involves engagement in both the research practices and the rhetorical discourses of a discipline. He explains how discipline-specific rhetorical conventions provide the framework for presentation and validation of disciplinary knowledge. Focusing on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaborative research and multi-authored publishing, he discusses the pros and cons of co–authorship, the differences across disciplines with regard to authorship, and the problems and threats that multi-authored publishing can generate for knowledge production and dissemination.

In Chapter Five, Hyland underlines the key role of community in knowledge production. He indicates that discourse communities and communities of practice provide a social framework which shapes and develops researchers’ expertise in academic text production. He discusses how novice scholars, especially EAL emerging academics, get initiated into the discourses of their communities, negotiate scholarly identities, and develop expertise. He also highlights the key role of participation in the practices of one’s community and expert mentorship in learning scholarly publication. However, he stresses the power dynamics inherent in an expert-novice relationship and the fact that not many novice scholars learn scholarly publication through participation in the practices of their communities and in an apprenticeship-like situation.

In the following chapter, the author focuses on academic genres, especially the journal article genre, and their role in the construction of knowledge. He explains genre chains and networks, connections among academic genres, and how some of them can transform into others. Highlighting the role of online platforms in transforming the presentation of traditional genres and promoting the emergence of new online genres, he discusses how digital technologies have changed scholarly publishing and the challenges and affordances that they offer for knowledge production. He also underlines the fact that both writers and readers need to adjust and reorient themselves to digitally transformed genres in new ways.

Chapter Seven concerns the role of academic journals as venues for academic communication where “scholarship is adjudicated and new knowledge orchestrated”. (Hyland 2015, p. 137). The author discusses how the prestige and impact factors of journals have become the main criteria for judging the value of the knowledge produced and how scholarly journals project the efficiency of everybody associated with them including publishers, editorial boards and contributors. He highlights how bibliometrics and evaluative systems in current academia have oriented knowledge production process and authors towards quantity rather than quality. Focusing on commercial and promotional aspects of the practices of scholarly journals, he also discusses predatory publishing, and explains how open access as an initiative can promote a more equitable approach to knowledge dissemination.

Chapter Eight deals with the significance of the gatekeeping process in knowledge production and dissemination and its implications for academic institutions, the academic lives of individual researchers, and the research orientation of different disciplines. Hyland discusses the purposes, practices and challenges of the review process and how this evaluative system is a major marker of the prestige and reputation of a scholarly outlet. Drawing on current literature and research, the author discusses different aspects of the review process including focus, framework, and feedback. Focusing on the negotiation process, he provides useful advice on communication with journal gatekeepers, especially for novice scholars. He also discusses criticisms of and threats to the current review process and presents suggestions for making it more accountable.


In Chapter Nine, the author presents an overview of English for Research Publication Purposes (ERPP) as a fast-growing area within English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and the issues and opportunities facing teachers and students in ERPP courses. He discusses the underlying assumptions, curricula, and textbooks of such courses. Focusing on the pedagogy of ERPP, he highlights the fact that ERPP instruction addresses both writing and publishing processes and informs novice researchers of discursive and social practices involved in scholarly publication. He also stresses that further research is needed in order to gain a better understanding of the specific needs of students attending ERPP courses.

EVALUATION

In a time when knowledge construction in the form of scholarly publication is the major marker of the “efficiency of both individual scholars and academic institutions” (Belcher, 2009,p. 2), Hyland’s book provides a comprehensive account of both conceptual issues and empirical evidence on key socio-political aspects of scholarly publication including: the status of English as the lingua franca of global scholarship, the Anglophone-dominated gatekeeping system, scholarly publication in digital era, the pedagogy of scholarly publication, and controversial issues such as scholarly publication in Kachru’s (1985) Inner, Expanding, and Outer Circles and the geolinguistic advantage (Lillis & Curry, 2010) of Anglophone scholars in the construction and dissemination of knowledge.

What distinguishes this book from other publications in this domain is that it is one of the few publications that examines scholarly publication at this scale and summarizes thirty years or so of literature and research in this domain. Moreover, it draws on a diverse range of areas such as bibliometrics, applied linguistics, the philosophy of science, library studies, the sociology of science, publishing, and language education as well as Hyland’s personal experiences as an established scholar, a prolific author, and an experienced editor. Most importantly, it presents an impartial and research-informed approach, rather than a speculative or a biased one, to issues involved in the construction of knowledge in the form of scholarly publication . Hyland’s impartial approach crystallizes to a great extent in Chapters Two and Three where he discusses publishing from the periphery and the language variable in global scholarship and problematizes the Anglophone/non-Anglophone dichotomy. Unlike a lot of researchers who have jumped on the “desperate EAL scholar” bandwagon, and interpret the current status of English as a conspiracy plot for linguistic hegemony or cultural imperialism, he adopts a critical stance towards this accepted orthodoxy. That is, he does not portray Anglophone scholars in the Inner Circle as an undifferentiated population who is “endowed with economic, cultural and symbolic capitals, and thus able to respond to the demands of the core academic discursive practices with relative ease” (Uzuner, 2008, p. 261). Neither, does he present a deficit model of EAL peripheral scholars’ academic literacy competency and depict them as “an undifferentiated mass which is handicapped by a lack of proficiency in English,” “at greater risk,” and therefore “in greater need” of help (Hyland, 2015, p. 186). Drawing upon empirical evidence and reliable statistics, he provides a fair picture of the realities of scholarly publication. He stresses that in spite of the Anglophone-dominated gatekeeping system, the participation of EAL peripheral scholars in both production and evaluation of scholarship is on the rise, academic literacy competence is nurtured not natured, and non-discursive issues play a more determining role in the construction and dissemination of knowledge.

Considering that the pedagogy of scholarly publication is one of the underrepresented and under-researched areas in this domain, another strong-suit of the book is that it presents a theoretically-informed educational approach to the pedagogy of scholarly publication in higher education in the last chapter. In spite of pedagogical practices and techniques presented in other publications which usually divorce the writing component from the publishing component, this approach frames both aspects of scholarly publication, proposes well-organized curricular activities, and highlights the fact that the pedagogy of scholarly publication needs to step beyond technical and discursive issues and address the social dimension as well.

“Academic Publishing: Issues and Challenges in the Construction of knowledge” is a must-read reference book for those involved in research into scholarly publication, especially novice researchers. The book has successfully provided a timely contribution to the knowledge base on scholarly publication and presented a state of the art survey of the literature and research in this domain. There is no doubt that a book of such a high caliber can only be produced by stellar scholars such as Ken Hyland, whose distinguished status is clear to anyone within the field of EAP and whose invaluable insights have always triggered disciplinary discussions and pushed the boundaries of disciplinary scholarship forward.

REFERENCES

Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Hyland, K. (2015). Academic publishing: Issues and challenges in the construction of knowledge. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Kachru, B. B. (1985). Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: The English language
in the outer circle. In R. Quirk & H. Widdowson (Eds.), English in the World (pp. 11-34).
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Lillis, T. M., & Curry, M. J. (2010). Academic writing in global context: The politics and practices of publishing in English. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Uzuner, S. (2008). Multilingual scholars’ participation in core/global academic communities: A
literature review. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 7(4), 250-263. doi:10.1016/
j.jeap.2008.10.007
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Pejman Habibie holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics and is currently a part-time faculty in the Faculty of Education at The University of Western Ontario, Canada. His research interests include English for professional academic purposes, academic writing and publishing, genre analysis, and doctoral education.

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Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780194423953
Pages: 256
Prices: U.K. £ 32.50