https://doi.org/10.3916/school-of-authors-140

Author: Arantxa Vizcaino – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion. Universidad Nacional de Loja, Ecuador

Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica was written in Latin, the first article introducing Albert Einstein’s theory of molecular interaction was published in German in Annalen der Physik, and Marie Curie’s work was initially published in French (La radiologie et la guerre, Propiétés magnétiques des aciers trempés…). Today, the largest volume of scientific works is published in English.


But why is this language considered the language of science, and why is it so relevant for a non-native author to publish his or her research in English? The question has previously been explored in depth, determining that the adoption of this de facto language in scientific production has provided the community with an avenue to access the vast universal literature. One study already determined that 80% of the work published on Scopus was available completely in English, and that, additionally, the rest of the work had the title and abstract in this language (van-Weijen, 2012). But this was not always the case. That today science agrees to and strives to publish in English is due to a series of events that have occurred since the 15th century.

In fact, Gorin (2015) pointed out that the first scientists to adopt the model of popularization that we know today presented their studies in two formats: 1) Conversations and discussions of the work in their mother tongue; and 2) Geographic extramural dissemination in Latin. As science advanced, so did the way in which the findings were disseminated, making it difficult in many cases to understand the knowledge. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that French, English and German began to be consolidated. So, in the second half of the 20th century, only English remained the dominant language, while the United States strengthened its authority in the world.

Given the power of English today, it is essential for the author to devote intellectual (and in many cases, economic) effort to participating in the international scientific enterprise by publishing his advances in English. Access to universal scientific literature will add value to the theoretical foundation, just as publishing in this lingua franca will improve the visibility of the studies and, therefore, their impact.

In this context, it is appropriate to take into account a series of basic aspects for writing and sending works to the international scientific publishing community:

  1. Despite grammatical, syntactic and usage errors, non-native researchers can defend effective works based on clarity, logic and conciseness of ideas. In this case, for example, Spanish is given to magnificence and complexity.
  • Authors should also keep in mind that journal reviewers and editors cannot devote sufficient time and resources to unraveling a manuscript. That is, they must be able to understand, without difficulty, what is being presented.

Therefore, we invite you to become aware of and take action on a fact that, although widely consolidated, is still a scientific gap in the non-English-speaking community.

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