In our own field of higher education, studies over many years have revealed persistent western hegemony in published scholarship. However, we observed that most studies tend to focus their analysis on the ‘top’ journals, and (by default) on those that publish exclusively in English. We wondered if publication patterns were similar in other journals. So, we set out to compare (among other things) the author affiliations and study contexts of articles published in journals in the top quartile of impact (Q1), with those in the bottom quartile of impact (Q4).
Journal impact is based on citations, and whilst flawed, citation is an area in which researchers can exercise agency, and an opportunity to reflect on our own sometimes constrained practice. Following, we provide suggestions for relatively simple actions that researchers could take from today in order to draw on the rich research and experiences from a wider pool of nations and scholars and thus promote the diversity of views and voices heard within academia.
I have been arguing – there is extensive academic gatekeeping. It leads to a cirrhosis of ideas. Journals become a graveyard of thoughts, and it remains ossified. How do you decide which is a “top journal”? One that gets the most citations? How do we know that those citations aren’t politically motivated? Or author-rings? Or other factors at play?
The best research may be done in a local language, which will remain invisible. English is a de-facto common standard, and I can’t reliably trust the language translation (even with the automated systems) especially if there is a high risk of losing the context. The authors however suggest doing just that.
Even if you are reading this as a monolingual English speaker, having command of just one language no longer has to exclude you from citing works in languages other than English. While online translation tools such as Google Translate are not perfect, we can use these tools judiciously in order to include research works published in languages that we are not proficient in. For example, in her forthcoming book Merga expanded the pool of diverse literature drawn upon after noting her own dependence on exclusively English academic literature, the result was a book with broader international relevance. Indeed, the inclusion of non-English articles in our paper was a methodological choice rarely applied in similar studies, which required more effort and some creativity, when the skills of our multilingual research team reached its limits.
I don’t agree with this assessment, but you can draw your own conclusions.