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Building a Career in English: Users of English as an Additional Language in Academia in the Arabian Gulf

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Abstract

This study investigates how a group of 30 multilingual academics, all users of English as an additional language (EAL) working at a private university in Oman, acquired discourse community membership in their disciplines through publishing in English, and the strategies they use to sustain the level of literacy needed to disseminate their research in refereed journals while working on the periphery. The participants, from the natural sciences, information technology, and economics, originate from countries in the surrounding region and, although many did not study in one of the traditional Anglophone countries, their academic literacy skills in English have been the cornerstones of their peripatetic academic careers. Participants describe their experience publishing from the periphery and perceptions of reviewer bias, and identify strategies used to overcome material shortcomings and linguistic challenges. The practice of language reuse to support the drafting of particular sections of an article is a recurring theme in many interviews. The article discusses the importance of conventional language in the sciences and the differing understandings of plagiarism among academics from the humanities and sciences. An implication from this study is the need for greater institutional support for the writing process in environments where most faculty members are EAL users.

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