Why I Don’t Write To Publish
Rozaliya Ziryanova is a lecturer at Westminster International University in Tashkent. She has a long-standing working relationship with the British Council, Uzbekistan and has been a co-author of materials for several BC projects, including the Testing Development project which is a joint undertaking of the State Testing Centre and the British Council. She is interested in continuing professional development of teachers. She enjoys working with the University Drama Club students in the capacity of a stage director.
Universities around the world encourage and demand of their teachers to write articles and publish them in journals, preferably reputable journals with a high impact factor. This adds to the credibility of educational institutions and serves as a means of spreading knowledge and information in academic circles.
My views on universities’ requirements to publish may seem narrow and even pejorative to those who propagate the necessity to research and publish. Nevertheless, I have decided to answer the question Why I don’t write to publish partly because my university, where I teach Pre-university students Basics of English for Academic Purposes, expects me to come up with an article of some kind.
- My field is ELT. Considering that here are numerous books and magazines in this field which publish works by prominent specialists, a question arises: do I have anything to say to this world? Or to be more exact, do I have anything new to say to this world? Surely a person needs to have a certain level of complacency to think that it is possible for them to come up with a really innovative idea. In my opinion, such topics as What makes a good teacher and How I help my students to learn vocabulary would neither further raise other teachers’ awareness about these basic themes, nor enhance their creativity.
- I was made to believe that good articles, those that deserve careful reading and thinking, are usually based on research. Should it be a mandatory requirement for university language teachers to carry out original academic research? And if they don’t do it, will they be regarded as worthless nincompoops? The remarkable novel ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Jonathan Swift contains descriptions of the work that scientists of the flying island of Laputa were engaged in; they did research which had no practical applications. More than that, some of their research was simply absurd, the weirdest example would be detecting conspiracies by examining the excrement of suspicious people. I don’t want to become this kind of researcher; thus, I won’t be able to write articles based on research.
- I have been working as a practical teacher for, I’m a little ashamed to say, an uncountable number of years. It’s a job worth doing, it is rewarding, but it is not easy. Should I be made to add to my workload another task, namely, doing research? In his article ‘More Research is Needed’ – A Mantra Too Far? Alan Maley (2016) writes that “research and teaching are quite different forms of activity and have no necessary connection”. I can’t agree more. If I aspire to continue doing my job reliably and be accountable for the results, I must focus on my main responsibilities, i.e. teaching. Alan Maley offers several reasons why “the quantity, complexity and obscurity of much of the nexus of factors” of research make teachers reluctant to carry it. I will not list here all the points made by Maley; instead I recommend everyone to read the article written by him and come to their own conclusions, for as David A. Hill (2016) says “I hope it gets read and acted upon by all and sundry”.
- I am a non-NEST and I am not exposed to the English language on a daily basis. This leads me to the poignant understanding of the fact that I am not a proficient user of the language. This is not self-deprecation or false modesty but an upsetting reality. Peter Medgyes (2017) in his book THE NON-NATIVE TEACHER writes “On the whole, non-NESTs are well aware of their linguistic handicap and of its all-pervasive nature” and I am definitely well aware of it. Of course this does not mean that I have insurmountable difficulties in communicating with my colleagues, nor that I am not confident enough when I teach my students. But to produce a noteworthy article in excellent English? Give me a break.
- I can only write about what I am really passionate about, something that I experienced not once but several times. Some years ago I wrote an article about our university drama club which was intended for the university anniversary publication. It took a lot of courage and heart to write it but the article has never been published. Though there was some value for me in the experience itself because of all writing and re-writing – I had seven drafts before I was satisfied with the text – it was also disappointing that the article did not see the light of day. The university did not produce any publication and I did not know who else might have been interested in my article, as “there is too much being published because the academic system encourages unnecessary publication” (2017).
The five reasons above seem to me serious enough to explain why I don’t write to be published. I am pretty sure that this article will also disappear without a trace because no respectable journal or magazine will be willing to accept it. Unless there is someone who would like to argue with me and enter into a dialogue with me. Any volunteers?
Altbach, P.G. and de Wit, H. (2018) Too much academic research is being published, University World News The Global Window Of Higher Education, Available from https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20180905095203579.
Maley, A. (2016) ‘More Research is Needed’ – A Mantra Too Far? Humanising Language Teaching, Year 18; Issue 3; June 2016, Available from http://old.hltmag.co.uk/jun16/mart01.htm.
Medgyes, P. (2017) The Non-native Teacher. Updated edition with new material. Scotland UK: SWAN COMMUNICATION Ltd.
Responses to the Chapter: ‘More Research is Needed’ – A Mantra Too Far? Humanising Language Teaching, Year 18; Issue 3; June 2016, http://old.hltmag.co.uk/jun16/mart01.htm.
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