The Unreal and the Real: English for Research Purposes in Norway
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Working in Norway, often with scholars based in the relatively new academic fields connected to the professions, we encounter issues in academic writing beset by a double conflict – the issues of power, hierarchy and expression that accrue around publishing in an additional language are multiplied by contradictions between “professional relevance” and “research relevance.” We argue that we are seeing here an instance of a paradox – academic writing is not real (its properties are contingent, not essential), and at the same time real (it is imbricated in material, often controversial, systems of reward and advancement). Situating this paradox in the context of Norwegian higher education language debates, we examine the concept of “academic drift” and the practical responses offered by Legitimation Code Theory to this issue. Attending to the constructedness of academic forms and disciplinarity, we suggest that questions concerning national language policies are bound up with questions about the nature of academic writing itself.