How ESL researchers can overcome the obstacles of English journal publishing

Today, most scientific research papers are authored by scientists who are not native speakers of English. For example, China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, France, and Germany are aggressively promoting scientific research in their countries. These researchers have to publish their work in international peer-reviewed English journals, because English is the lingua franca of scientific publishing. However, these researchers face a lot of difficulties while writing their manuscripts in English as they are not native speakers of English. Besides, they also face tremendous obstacles in publication process.

Obstacles that ESL researchers face in English journal publishing

Linguistic issues: Most scholars of ESL (English as second language) countries face problems related to English language. For example, the researchers who are non-native speakers of English tend to translate their manuscript from their native language into English. In this case, they always need the help of an English researcher to polish their manuscript. Thus, the process of writing a manuscript becomes more tedious, lengthy, and costly. All these efforts are done to tackle the rigorous demands of the peer-review process.

Plagiarism issue: In a manuscript, researchers have to often cite the work of previous studies. These citations involve summarizing the work of related studies. However, ESL researchers are often caught in plagiarism issues as they find it difficult to express these statements in their own words. Moreover, ESL researchers are not really familiar with the style guides of English journals.

Publication bias, scarcity of funding, and lack of international collaborations: Most ESL researchers do not have any connections with the key members of a journal. Most journal editors are biased while reviewing the work of ESL researchers. Moreover, researchers from developing countries do not have sufficient research funding; therefore, their work is often limited to research in their own countries. Sometimes, they may collaborate with neighboring countries. However, we rarely come across international collaborations in such studies.

Non-conducive environment in the sub-Saharan region of the African continent: most scholarly communications have to face tremendous challenges in the sub-Saharan region of the African continent: the environment is just not conducive to scholarly publications. Besides facing an economic crunch, they also have to overcome socio-political barriers and technological issues. Academic conferences are hardly held in this region. The problem of “brain-drain” is also acute in these countries.

Lack of internet access: Internet access is not possible in some African countries; therefore, it is difficult for researchers to access the work of related studies electronically. Moreover, this causes hassles in electronic submission of manuscripts. They also cannot access the electronic systems that provide a list of peer-reviewers. Owing to these difficulties, the articles published by African authors are very few in number.

Solutions to the obstacles faced by ESL researchers

Although ESL researchers face many obstacles in publishing their work, there is always a silver lining in dark clouds. In this section, we discuss all the efforts undertaken to overcome the linguistic barriers of ESL authors. Some of the steps used for improving their publication success are as follows:

1) Be persistent and calm: ESL researchers should not feel hopeless and dejected when their paper is rejected by a peer-reviewed English journal. The editors and reviewers certainly point out the flaws in their manuscript, and these flaws can be surely corrected. Thus, the quality of the rejected paper can be definitely improved.

2) Collaborate with senior researchers: Young researchers should always explore possibilities of a collaboration with researchers who are more experienced in their field of study. By developing contacts with senior researchers, they can certainly improve the quality of their manuscripts.

3) Familiarize with English journal styles: researchers must often read published papers of internationally acclaimed English journals. In this way, they would be able to emulate the rhetorical style of the journal. They should strive to paraphrase the work of previous studies in their own words. They would thus overcome the issue of plagiarism, an obstacle that is faced by most ESL researchers.

4) Comply with journal guidelines: before submitting their work to journals, researchers must read the guidelines of journal submission very carefully. They can thus prepare their manuscript in strict adherence to journal guidelines.

(5) English editing: The linguistic nuances of English language are seldom understood by ESL researchers. It is very important for them to get their work checked by a native English speaker before submitting it to an internationally acclaimed English journal. Although English editing services are offered by many companies all across the world, they are usually expensive and do not fit into the budget of ESL authors from poor countries. In such situations, they should seek the help of a colleague who is a native speaker of English.

(6) Identify the right journal: Some journals do not have any bias against authors who are not native speakers of English. Check out the websites of many English journals and identify the journal that is appropriate for your work. In this case, ESL researchers are advised to peruse through articles that are already published in these journals. With this strategy, ESL researchers can certainly improve their chances of getting published in English journals.

(7) Make your work more visible: Open Access journals are generally more visible as their articles can be freely read by everyone. Before submitting a paper to an open access journal, ESL researchers must try to make their research findings more visible to the masses. They can develop a website for their research team and use social media to propagate their work. They can also publish their research findings on authoritative blogs.


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