Thread: Research

How are successful English medium academic texts produced? Exploring the perspectives of multilingual scholars

Theresa Lillis – Milton Keynes, UK

This presentation draws on a 7-year study setting out to explore the politics and practices surrounding the academic text production of scholars working out of non-Anglophone national contexts. The study involves a text-oriented ethnographic approach – focusing on the perspectives and text trajectories of 50 scholars from Slovakia, Hungary, Spain and Portugal – and in addition, more recently, a corpus approach – focusing on a million word corpus built from English medium national and international journal psychology articles.

The aims of this presentation will be to give an overview of the study – its goals and findings to date – and to focus centrally on what the study can tell us about the following questions: How are successful English medium academic journal articles produced? To what extent, and in which ways, do language ‘brokers’ such as translators and language professionals contribute to the scholars’ success. The presentation will use case study data drawn from the study to discuss scholars’ practices and to illustrate key issues raised.

Published papers on the project:

  • Lillis, T. (forthcoming July 2008) Ethnography as method, methodology and ‘deep theorising’: closing the gap between text and context in academic writing research. Written Communication.
  • Lillis, T. and Curry, M.J. (2006) Re-framing notions of ‘competence’ in multilingual scholarly writing: from individual to networked activity. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 53: 63-78.
  • Lillis, T. and Curry, M.J. (2006) Professional academic writing by multilingual scholars: interactions with literacy brokers in the production of English medium texts. Written Communication, 23, 1: 3-35.
  • Curry, M.J. and Lillis, T. (2004) Multilingual scholars and the imperative to publish in English: Negotiating interests, demands, and rewards. TESOL Quarterly, 38,4: 663-688.

Theresa Lillis is Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Language and Communication, Open University, UK. Her research spans both university-level academic writing and the writing practices of professional academics in multilingual contexts.