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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The difficulties of Polish scholars trying to publish in international peer-reviewed journals Kijak, Magdalena


This study set out to consider the factors responsible for the low publication rates of Polish academics in international, peer-reviewed journals, and whether the global dominance of the English language in scholarly publications is a significant contributing factor. The literature suggests it might be but, to date, no in-depth investigation has confirmed this. Qualitative research methodology was selected as the most effective approach for the study and semi-structured interviews with eight Polish scholars were conducted. According to the data collected in these interviews, the reasons behind the small international publication output of Polish scholars are multifaceted. Polish academics face a number of difficulties which are in line with those described in the literature discussing the challenges facing non-native English speakers attempting to publish internationally. Linguistic difficulties are exacerbated by chronic underfunding of Polish science which results in inadequate resources and low salaries that lead to faculty taking multiple jobs. However, the study also reveals that Polish academia suffers from the lack of publishing culture. In other words, the “publish or perish” imperative, so widespread in the Western academic world, is only just taking root in Poland. Further, the study shows that Polish scholars struggle more with mastering English academic writing structures than they do with English language proficiency in general. Scientific productivity in Poland could be fostered in a number of ways. Academics should be given more help and incentives to increase their overall publication output, domestically as well as internationally. For example, researchers’ salaries should be improved so that they do not need to hold multiple jobs. At the same time, access to subsidised English editorial services should be made available to scholars to help them prepare their manuscripts for international publications. As well, English academic writing courses should be introduced widely at Polish universities to improve the writing skills of future generations of scholars. What can be learned about publication obstacles in Poland from this study may be applicable to other non-Anglophone scholarly communities, and may provide answers as to how the global community may “level the publishing playing field” to ensure maximum dissemination of all scholarly ideas.

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