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The Cost of Being a Non-Native English Speaker in Science

By Public Library of Science

July 19, 2023

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English serves as a convenient, common language for science. However, this practice poses insurmountable barriers to those whose first language is not English, according to research published in PLOS Biology.

The survey reveals clear and substantial disadvantages for non-native English speakers. Compared to native English speakers, non-native English speakers need up to twice as much time to read and write papers and prepare presentations in English. Papers written by non-native English speakers are 2.5 times more likely to be rejected and 12.5 times more likely to receive a request for revision, simply due to the written English.

Many also give up attending and presenting at international conferences because they are not confident communicating in English.

The findings have important implications for global efforts to create a more inclusive academia where anyone can thrive and shine. The authors found that these disadvantages disproportionately affect those at an early career stage and from lower income countries.

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