Disadvantages in preparing and publishing scientific papers caused by the dominance of the English language in science: The case of Colombian researchers in biological sciences

Abstract:  The success of a scientist depends on their production of scientific papers and the impact factor of the journal in which they publish. Because most major scientific journals are published in English, success is related to publishing in this language. Currently, 98% of publications in science are written in English, including researchers from English as a Foreign Language (EFL) countries. Colombia is among the countries with the lowest English proficiency in the world. Thus, understanding the disadvantages that Colombians face in publishing is crucial to reducing global inequality in science. This paper quantifies the disadvantages that result from the language hegemony in scientific publishing by examining the additional costs that communicating in English creates in the production of articles. It was identified that more than 90% of the scientific articles published by Colombian researchers are in English, and that publishing in a second language creates additional financial costs to Colombian doctoral students and results in problems with reading comprehension, writing ease and time, and anxiety. Rejection or revision of their articles because of the English grammar was reported by 43.5% of the doctoral students, and 33% elected not to attend international conferences and meetings due to the mandatory use of English in oral presentations. Finally, among the translation/editing services reviewed, the cost per article is between one-quarter and one-half of a doctoral monthly salary in Colombia. Of particular note, we identified a positive correlation between English proficiency and higher socioeconomic origin of the researcher. Overall, this study exhibits the negative consequences of hegemony of English that preserves the global gap in science. Although having a common language is important for science communication, generating multilinguistic alternatives would promote diversity while conserving a communication channel. Such an effort should come from different actors and should not fall solely on EFL researchers.


Los costos del APC: el caso de la Universidad de Antioquia – AmeliCA

From Google’s English: “The costs of publishing openly according to the European tendency to regulate its market of scientific publications have generated a debate that warns Latin America about the need to take a position on the cost that policies such as the Plan S for the development of science and its circulation. Latin America has been a pioneer in proposing a path for open science, provided that the publications of the region were born in open access, where scientific production is created and circulated by the academy itself. However, an important part of European and North American publications have not only charged for publishing, and do so increasingly, but also charge for access to articles. That cost has not been calculated for Latin America. Here is a first exercise, 

In the Institutional Development Plan 2017-2027 , the University of Antioquia adopted open science as one of the guidelines that will guide the development of the Institution in the decade. Under this framework, the University approved in April 2018 the Open Access Policy to the publications for the entity, in which it is defined that the institutional commitment is oriented towards the “Deposited Deposit”, in which the Library System assumes a leading role to be responsible for administering the Institutional Repository that houses the scientific production of the University, provided that copyright (moral and patrimonial) permit.

However, in the areas of socialization and disclosure of the policy it has been observed that a common concern of the researchers has revolved around who would be responsible for financing publications in open access. This in the sense of who finances the Article Processing Charges (APC), automatically assuming that the publication in open access implies the payment of APC to publishers, and ignoring that there are other routes under which open access works and that they require the APC [2] .

It is for this reason, among others, that the University of Antioquia has initiated the development of strategies to size and demystify open access in the Institution. In the first case, an investigative exercise was carried out to measure the institutional practices in Open Access, from the bibliographic sources and with the computation capacities that the CoLaV of the UdeA has been building, this being a collaborative that we have been developing in University. In the second case, an awareness campaign has been designed, open UdeA, which seeks to bring the actors of the University to the world of open access, showing its advantages, practices and the need for its implementation in the institution.

The present text seeks to show progress in the first case, giving a global panorama of the case of the University of Antioquia….”

Support Diego Gomez: An Update

“Last Summer, we learnt about the case of Diego Gomez. Diego Gomez, a Colombian graduate student, currently faces up to eight years in prison for doing something thousands of researchers do every day: posting research results online for those who would not otherwise have a way to access them.”

The sharing of knowledge is being criminalised

“Last month, the 29-year-old Colombian biologist Diego Gómez (shown above) was cleared of charges of violating copyright. Nothing remarkable in that, you might think. But the “crime” that Gómez was accused of was that in 2011 he uploaded another scientist’s 2006 thesis on amphibian taxonomy to the document-sharing network Scribd so that others could read it, since it was hard to find, and Gómez thought it deserved wider appreciation.


However, the author of the thesis did not appreciate the gesture, and sued for damages. The court case began in 2014. At stake was not just fines of up to $327,000, but a prison sentence of between four and eight years. Although the court has just acquitted Gómez, his troubles are not yet over, since the prosecutor has appealed against the judge’s decision. As a result, Gómez must still live with the threat of many years of prison and a ruinous fine hanging over him – all because he wanted to share knowledge with his fellow researchers, and with no attempt to derive any financial benefit from doing so.


Gómez is a victim of a new law that Colombia passed in 2012, which requires criminal sanctions when infringement takes place on a “commercial scale”, where that term is framed so loosely that it includes non-commercial infringement like sharing a thesis. The law was brought in as part of Colombia’s compliance with the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. International trade deals have become a standard way for the US copyright industry to force other countries to extend copyright and introduce harsh punishments against infringement, as Gómez discovered….”

Bioline International Official Site (site up-dated regularly)

“Bioline International is a not-for-profit scholarly publishing cooperative committed to providing open access to quality research journals published in developing countries. BI’s goal of reducing the South to North knowledge gap is crucial to a global understanding of health (tropical medicine, infectious diseases, epidemiology, emerging new diseases), biodiversity, the environment, conservation and international development. By providing a platform for the distribution of peer-reviewed journals (currently from Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, India, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda and Venezuela), BI helps to reduce the global knowledge divide by making bioscience information generated in these countries available to the international research community world-wide….”