Knowledge Construction in Academia

A Challenge for Multilingual Scholars

by Elena Sheldon (Author)
Monographs XIV, 248 Pages


This book examines the struggles encountered by multilingual scholars pursuing careers within global academia, particularly in Spain and Latin American countries. These writers face the disadvantage of having to read and write in a language other than their own. The traditional model of Anglophone universities under which academics have to «publish or perish» has ensured that English is an indicator of excellence in knowledge construction. Given this linguistic inequality, it is important that scholars from non-Anglophone countries are empowered in their efforts to publish in English in international journals, so that new knowledge can be brought to the fore.
By highlighting the dominant English medium conventions, this book provides such scholars with valuable support in ensuring that their research is publishable. It explores the different ways of structuring languages and illuminates the complexities of writing an academic text in a second language. The central message of the book is that the voices of multilingual scholars can make unique and substantial contributions to the reform, expansion, democratization and enrichment of English-dominated academia.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1. The Research Arena of Globalized Academia and Contemporary Theories on Writing for Publication
  • Chapter 2. A Pragmatic Orientation to Knowledge Construction in Research Articles
  • Chapter 3. Semantic Functions As Seen Through Stance: Knowledge Construction in Research Articles
  • Chapter 4. Intercultural Analyses: Knowledge Construction in the Introduction Section
  • Chapter 5. Intercultural Analyses: Knowledge Construction in the Discussion/Conclusion Sections
  • Chapter 6. Dialogic Spaces of Knowledge Construction in Research Articles
  • Chapter 7. Reflective Disciplinary Practices and Procedures in Scholarly Research
  • Chapter 8. Underpinning Contemporary Scientific Discourse
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices
  • Index
  • Series Index

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This book is the result of many years of researching scholarly texts published in English and Spanish. I would also like to acknowledge my indebtedness to all those who have given me advice and from whom I have learnt so much over the years. They have inspired me to learn all about writing for publication in English and its impact in the world of academia. In particular, I thank my colleagues from the School of International Studies and the School of Education at the University of Technology Sydney who have supported me with stimulating ideas and assisted me to think about critical pedagogy as well as leading me to academic levels of achievement. I am grateful to Professor Lesley Harbon, Professor Alastair Pennycook, Associate Professor Liam Morgan, Dr Marivic Wyndham, Dr Neil England and Dr Ross Forman for their constant support and interest in my research and for their friendship.

I owe deep gratitude to Professor John Swales for his guidance in the first stages of the analysis of my data using move analysis. My search to assist multilingual scholars to publish in English motivated me to travel to Spain several times to gather information through interviews with Spanish researchers in several universities in Spain. I thank them for their generous contributions on scholarly publication, all of which have made this book a source of knowledge with valuable intellectual input.

I am also greatly indebted to Professor Anne McCabe and Professor Carmen Pérez-Llantada and A/Professor Louise Ravelli for inspiration, support and encouraging comments and Dr Rosa Lorés-Sanz for her kind responses in facilitating material that I requested. I am also grateful to Dr Guenter Plum for his eye for detail.

Some ideas in this book have appeared in the journals listed below and I would like to thank the publishers for their permission to draw on these publications: ← xi | xii →

Sheldon, E. (2009). From one I to another: Discursive construction of self-representation in English and Castillian Spanish research articles. English for Specific Purposes, 28, 251–265.

Sheldon, E. (2011). Rhetorical differences in RA Introductions written by English L1 and L2 and Castilian L1 writers accepted by the Journal of English for Academic Purposes. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 10, 238–251.

Finally, a special thanks to my dear husband Richard and my two loving sons, William and Steven, and my daughter-in-law, Kassie, for their endless support and patience. I also wish to express my gratitude to my late father Guillermo, my mother Elena and my sister Ana María who always encouraged my scholarly endeavours.

← xii | xiii →


This book examines the struggles encountered by multilingual scholars wishing to enter or advance a career in a globalized academia, particularly in Spain and Latin American countries. It proposes to empower them by making explicit the dominant English medium conventions so that they can better navigate the hazards of submitting their work for publication. The book aims to make clear the generic complexities of written academic texts, particularly in relation to the common discursive strategies employed in the construction of knowledge within the most important sections of research articles (RAs). Academic writing and discourse communities, national and international, are also discussed. The view that language is constructed within social communities and that knowledge of a discourse community impacts on writing is fundamental to this book. Another important consideration is the effect of differences between writing for publication cultures on members of the contemporary global academy. My aim here is to bring to the fore the differences between knowledge construction in English as a first language (L1) and English as an additional language (L2), and how these differences may be interpreted by the gatekeepers of academic publications.

To achieve these various but related aims, the book examines RAs in English and Spanish as well as RAs written in English by Spanish-background speakers in the fields of applied linguistics and education. It focuses specifically on the moves and steps in the Introduction and Discussion sections of RAs. To do so, it draws upon three frameworks: ESP move analysis (Swales 2004), Appraisal theory (Martin and White 2005), an off-shoot of Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL), and Textography (Swales 1998a). This triple theoretical approach provides more contextual data and thus can throw light on the question whether a diversity of practices exists across the two L1 writing cultures and L2 writers. It recognizes that English is the main lingua franca (ELF) for research in academia used across different languages and cultures, and hypothesizes that the ← xiii | xiv → publishing efforts of English L2 writers may highlight the mixing of normative conventions of English with culturally specific rhetorical traditions of their L1 language.

Drawing on move analysis, this book explores how the three groups of writers advance knowledge in academic discourse. The binary opposition of “international versus national” is considered, as it may have influenced these groups of writers to construct texts that show discourse variability. The engagement system, part of Appraisal theory, addresses text evaluation from a semantic orientation by making visible the validation of one’s work which is a requirement rather than an option in academic writing. RA peer review gatekeepers and the academic community in general expect that writers construct a perspective on their statements and engage in a dialogue with readers and the textographical approach allows us to gain a deeper understanding of how texts are produced as well as providing possible explanations for diversity.


XIV, 248
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (April)
Cross-cultural writing hybridization of traditional English in academia pressure to publish in elite journals by multilingual scholars
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2018. XIV, 248 pp., 18 table/s, 10 fig.

Biographical notes

Elena Sheldon (Author)

Elena Sheldon holds a PhD in academic literacy in English and is a lecturer in the School of International Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney. She specializes in second language writing, using genre-based pedagogy within Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory.


Title: Knowledge Construction in Academia
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