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“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”

–Edwin Schlossberg


  • Global authors make an important contribution to science.

  • Global authors face unique challenges in selecting appropriate journals and in understanding ethical international standards.

  • Language barriers are challenging for authors and editors alike. They not only prolong the time for dissemination but also incur costs for authors, who must obtain language assistance, and for editors, who must invest more time into the manuscript.

In the global world of the 21st century, we can communicate easily across geographic boundaries and time zones using everything from phone calls to text messages. Although time and space no longer curtail our ability to communicate, global authors for whom English is a second language still face publication barriers (Akst, 2020).

Certainly, many native English-speaking authors wish to publish in international journals of different languages. However, most articles in the hard sciences are published in English, and English competence has become a professional prerequisite for academics in scientific fields (Peled, 2014). In this chapter, you’ll learn the implications of English as the language of science, the barriers to publication for non-native English-speaking authors, and strategies for breaking down those barriers.


English is the common language of the scientific community. The number of scientific articles disseminated in English continues to increase in English-speaking countries, such as the United States. English has been adopted by the scientific community in the European Union; increased numbers of journals globally now publish in English, and there is a global increase in the number of students learning English as a second language.

Although English language predominance in science has some disadvantages, including the likelihood that dissemination of scientific findings in non-English journals is slowed (Stolerman & Stenius, 2008) and articles in these journals have fewer citations (Di Bitetti & Ferreras, 2016), English is currently the language of science just as Greek, Arabic, and Latin were historically the language of science (Castillo, 2009).

Q How did English come to be accepted as a global language of science? It doesn’t seem fair.

A World War II hastened the transformation of English as the common language of science because some of the victor nations (notably, England and the United States) were English-speaking. Some non-English-speaking countries with strong backgrounds in science (such as Germany) had longer recovery periods. The growth of computers and computerized databases in English-speaking countries in the latter half of the 20th century helped spur the growth of English. Is it fair? No. But it is a reality of getting your research published.

Having a common language for science makes it easier for scientists to communicate with each other and to build on the work of others around the world. Multilingual authors can ...

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