Monday, August 17, 2009

French Holds Its Own

A new NBER working paper by Lex Borghans and Frank Cörvers looks at "The Americanization of European Higher Education and Research." Among other things they find evidence for increased mobility of students and an increased tendency to write dissertations in languages other than the home language, driven, the authors believe, by a trend toward measuring scholarly performance by journal publications. But France and, to a slightly lesser extent, Germany are exceptions to these trends: in France, nearly 100 pct of dissertations are written in French, even in fields like medicine and economics, where the value of publication in English is highest. Compare this with the Netherlands and Norway, where dissertations written in the home language have dropped to 14 and 0 percent, respectively. (The paper is gated.)

The long-term cultural implications of such shifts bear thinking about.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to see data on the percentage of French scholars who publish their dissertations in French but simultaneously publish articles extracted from their dissertation in English. I imagine it's pretty high. Certainly the French scholars in my field routinely publish in English. I would imagine that writing the dissertation in French is more an act of nostalgia or a show of solidarity than a sign of actual withdrawal from the international scholarly community.

Anonymous said...

Or simply that their language is French and do not feel very confortable writing in American.

Can you imagine many US academics publishing in a language which is not their maternal language ?

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