The cost of being a non-native English speaker in science

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Tatsuya Amano, Valeria Ramírez-Castañeda, Violeta Berdejo-Espinola, Israel Temitope Borokini, Shawan Chowdhury, Marina Golivets, Juan David González-Trujillo, Flavia Montaño-Centellas, Kumar Paudel, Rachel Louise White, Diogo Veríssimo


The use of English as the common language of science represents a major impediment to maximising the contribution of non-native English speakers to science. Yet few studies have quantified the consequences of language barriers on the career development of researchers who are non-native English speakers. Our survey demonstrates that non-native English speakers, especially early in their careers, spend more effort than native English speakers in conducting scientific activities, from reading and writing papers and preparing presentations in English, to disseminating research in multiple languages. Language barriers can also cause them not to attend, or give oral presentations at, international conferences conducted in English. We urge scientific communities to recognise and tackle these disadvantages to release the untapped potential of under-represented non-native English speakers in science.



Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, International and Intercultural Communication, Publishing, Scholarly Publishing


Career development, language barriers, inequality, publishing, Diversity in academia


Published: 2022-11-10 23:06

Last Updated: 2022-11-11 07:06


CC-BY Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data and Code Availability Statement:
We are unable to make data on participants’ responses to the survey questions publicly available, as per our agreement with the University of Queensland Ethics office and due to the confidentiality of the data. All codes used in the analysis are available at: