Saturday, October 23

The investigation must be in English


Yes, many investigations are published in English. No, it is not a problem, write Aksel Mjøs and Arnt Ove Hopland.

It’s better with “English only” than “Norwegian only” if we had to choose.

Chronicle
This is a chronicle. Opinions in the text are the responsibility of the writer.

Many are concerned about the situation of the Norwegian language in academia and some use strong words like “betrayal” when describing how bad things are. The reason for the alleged misery is that much of the scientific publication is done in English, that 90 percent of doctoral theses are written in this exotic and distant language, and perhaps worse still, that it is sometimes useful in teaching .

Better with “English only”

We believe this debate is on a wild goose chase. First, the description of misery fails quite a bit. Many shelf gauges are produced with articles, essays, reports, chronicles, etc. in Norwegian, plus most of the teaching is still done in Norwegian, so it’s not the case that we don’t use the language. But now let’s play with the premise that Norwegian is the threat of extinction in academia and explain why it is actually better with “English only” than “Norwegian only” if we had to choose.

Research is not an activity that takes place in a vacuum. The global research community builds stone upon stone, learns from others, and drives the research frontline through lively and active discussions and networks. So we need a common language, and that language is English. If Norwegian researchers had published their research in Norwegian, French in French, and Finnish in Finnish, we would be wasting enormous amounts of time and resources sitting on our piles and pondering questions that someone has already solved for us. Then we will be unable to deliver our most important social mission: new knowledge.

Reduces the risk of echo chamber

From a scientific perspective, we should rather turn the subject around and ask ourselves if an environment with a low degree of internationalization is capable of maintaining an acceptable academic level.

Internationalization is not in itself a guarantee of quality, but participation in an international debate seriously reduces the risk of having an echo chamber like a cork that develops methodologically or is capable of challenging established truths.

Exposing research to international criticism and trying to get it published in internationally recognized journals should be an obvious minimum requirement for obtaining a PhD in most disciplines. Therefore, we dare to affirm that to the extent that it is a problem that 90 percent of doctoral theses are in English, the problem is that the number is not close to 100 percent.

It is also important to note that the academic job market is global. When we at NHH educate a Sotra PhD student, it is by no means a matter of course that she will spend her career in Bergen. Your next job could well be on the continent, in America, or in Asia.

The academic job market is not a circuit championship, it is a World Cup.

In the same way, candidates applying for jobs in good Norwegian institutions compete not only against Norwegian applicants, but also against brilliant young academics from around the world. If our local talent is going to have a chance to make it to this competition, it just doesn’t make sense to write in Norwegian and just discuss the research here locally.

The academic job market is not a circuit championship, it is a World Cup.

It is not a problem

For research, therefore, there is no doubt. Yes, it is published a lot in English. No, that is not a problem.

When parts of the teaching in the sector are in English, it is a direct result of two factors, both of which are uniquely positive for Norwegian academia. First of all, we recruit from the entire international labor market and of course in practice no non-Scandinavian foreigner will have preconditions to teach anything other than English cork in the short or medium term.

It is better for everyone if they focus on teaching well in a language they master, than forcing them to master Norwegian. Second, we attract international students and then we have to offer instruction in a language they understand.

There is a contradiction in the fact that Norwegians may resent that the receptionist of a French hotel does not speak English, but at the same time it seems that it is outrageous that teaching in colleges and universities sometimes goes in English.

Yes, we must take care of all our languages, but the research must be in English if we want to be part of a global academic community and justify our salaries as researchers.


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