Is There an Anglo-American Hegemony in Geography Journals? The Empirical Evidence

It is easier for native English speakers to publish in English language journals, just like it is easier for native French speakers to publish in French language journals, or for any other native speaker publishing in journals in her/his language for that matter. Yet, the situation is different because English is the dominant language in social science and so being a native speaker of English does become a major advantage. Hence, it is not surprising that most papers in the so called 'international' journals, that is, an important share of English language journals, are written by native speakers.

In a survey supporting the Anglo-American hegemony thesis, Gutierrez and Lopez Nieva have shown that of the papers published in a selected number of major English language geography journals, 38.3% are written by US based authors and 35.1% by UK based authors. Two other predominantly English speaking countries follow at 8.6% and 3.2% (Canada and Australia, respectively). Israel is the first non English speaking country in the list with a meager 1.5% and is directly followed by two predominately English speaking countries. All in all, less than 14% of all papers appear to be written by authors based in countries where English is not the dominant language. Of course, there are differences between journals as well, but none of these 'international' journals features more than 25% authors from non English speaking countries. Likewise, the editorial boards of these journals are predominantly made up of academics based in English speaking countries. At 41.0% and 37.8%, the US and the UK again stand out. Singapore (1.6%) and Japan (1.1%) are the only non English speaking countries that supply more than 1% of editorial board members. This often concerns native speakers or natives trained in English speaking countries. The differences between the different journals are very large with the International Journal of GIS standing out with 40.9% of its editorial board members from non English speaking countries, while about one third of the selected journals (7 out of 19) only have editorial board members from predominantly English speaking countries.

This situation does not only exist in human geography, other social sciences also show the predominance of authors from English speaking countries. The big difference between geography and other social sciences is the position of the UK: in geography, UK based authors publish almost as much as US based authors, while in the other social sciences the UK is far behind the US. On the other hand, Rodr?guez Pose has demonstrated that a journal often attracts most authors from the country of publication and from other countries in which the same language is spoken as the language of publication (which is not necessarily the same as the language of the country of publication as two English language geography journals from respectively Sweden and the Netherlands show) and this would prove that there is no Anglo-American hegemony, but merely a parochial division of papers over journals. Although empirically sound, this argument overlooks the fact that many English language journals are considered and consider themselves without exception, thus including journals published by national geography associations, – 'international' journals while most non English language journals are not considered – even when they consider themselves – 'international' journals. More over, it is rare to find non English journals that have been admitted to the ISI rankings, further undermining the position of non English journals and making it harder for these journals to acquire 'international' status.