The Assessment of English Teachers’ Ability to Write a Scientific Article in English

Being able to publish scientific articles to be published in scholarly journals and preferably to be well recognized international journals, is the expectation of many researchers and educators across the globe (Belt, Mottonen, & Harkonen, 2011). According to Soule (2007), there are several reasons accounting for the expectation. First, publishing an academic article or manuscript to a journal will make a person known to the peers working in the same field. Second, publishing an article is also considered an effective way to disseminate knowledge or empirical data to the wider audience. Third, getting the article published in good journals is also a common practice for a person wishing to pursue a career as an academic faculty in the university.

Like many other developing and developed nations, Indonesia is now taking the issue of scholarly publication very seriously. The government, for example, is offering a quite significant amount of money (around 50 million rupiahs) through publication grant to any Indonesians who could publish their article in a good international journal (e.g., ISI Thompson or Scopus indexed). More incentives will be provided if the article appears in a high impact factor journal. Prior to this policy, a similar yet lower incentive is also provided but only for lecturers of universities or other similar higher institutions (e.g., polytechnics, teacher colleges, etc.). Now, everyone in the country may gain such a benefit.

Teachers of English, particularly, may have a greater chance to be granted the incentive since nearly all international journals accept articles written in English only. However, to date, there is little evidence about whether they have all the knowledge and skills necessary for writing a good manuscript and publishing it in an international journal. The current study, therefore, seeks to identify such evidence by assessing the knowledge and skills of English teachers to write for a scholarly journal in English. Hengl and Gould (2002) have borrowed the idea of O’Conner and Woodford (1976) point out that a scientific or research article is a technical document that describes a significant theoretical or observational extension of current knowledge, or advances in the practical application of known principles. This type of writing is, therefore, differs from the other kinds of writing, such as novel and essay. Particularly, it requires a writer to apply a certain structure or style. According to Perneger and Hudelson (2004), the basic structure of a typical research paper is the sequence of Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (sometimes abbreviated as IMRaD) (Kotze, 2007).

Accordingly, if a person willing to get his work published in a good scholarly journal must have the ability to write well in this basic structure of a paper. As the first component of a research article, the introduction is considered as one of the most significant sections of the paper since it provides information about the research background. In the introduction, an author should clearly state the problem and provide a reason why the study is important to be carried out (Elsevier, 2005). It also needs to relate to the current knowledge as well as identify the gap in the existing literature, and one way of doing it is by explaining. “What has been done in the area and what needs to be done” (Corbett, 2007; Hengl & Gould, 2002). The method is the next section of a research article. Some journals may require a section for a literature review and several others consider unnecessary as it can be included as part of the introduction. The current study chooses not to argue on this matter since both still see the importance of literature review. The method section of an article, according to Kallet (2004) provides the information by which a study’s validity is judged. Therefore, it requires a clear and precise description of how a study is done and the rationale for why specific procedures are chosen. The methods section should describe what is done to answer the research question, describe how it is done, justify the selection of design, and explain how the results are analyzed. Consistent with Kallet, Elsevier (2005) argues that there should be enough details in the method section since such information is necessary particularly for other researchers who wish to make a replication of similar research.

The information can also be used to assess whether the methods justify the conclusions. Then, the simple past tense is usually the tense used for this section. Further, it is argued by Elsevier that the appropriate authors need to explain where the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen method, how they select the subjects and how they deal with the ethical issues of the study if it involves humans. Next, in the results section of the paper, as argued by Hengl and Gould (2002), the authors need to provide the summary of research findings and to facilitate, graphs, or tables may be used. It is not necessary to report all the results, but the focus should be on giving emphasis to the most significant findings as well as making the clear separation between theirs and others’ work. The whole idea is the results should be reported objectively, clearly, and logically (Kallestinova, 2011). This is the section where authors simply report what they find, and their interpretation of the study results should be made the discussion section of the paper (Elsevier, 2005). Discussion sometimes can be put together with the results, making its results and discussion or with conclusion making its discussion and conclusion. Further, it is suggested by Elsevier (2005) that the discussion should explain how the research has moved the body of scientific knowledge forward. The conclusions must be supportable and not extend beyond the results, so avoid undue speculation and bold judgments about impact. This is also a good place to suggest practical applications for the results and to outline what the next steps in the research will be. Once authors become knowledgeable with the basic structure of a scientific article, they need to develop a good understanding of another important supporting component which is abstract. According to Andrade (2011), authors of a scientific article usually need to write an abstract consist of 200-250 words covering background, methods, results, and conclusion. Background or introduction, as he argues, is the section in an abstract which has the fewest words (e.g., 1-3 sentences) and usually, it contains information about the intention or purpose of the study. The methods section is the part of an abstract which provides the readers the information about the research procedure.

So, the information about the participants, data collection, and analysis should be included in this section. Andrade (2011) points out that the results section is the most important part of the abstract and nothing should compromise its range and quality. This is because the readers who peruse an abstract do so to learn about the findings of the study. The results section should, therefore, be the longest part of the abstract and should contain as much detail about the findings as the journal word count permits. Finally, the conclusion is the section in which an author should carefully write since it contains the most significant message of the research that he or she wants the readers to convey. Usually, the finding highlighted here relates to the primary outcome measure. However, other important or unexpected findings should also be mentioned (Andrade, 2011). The present study aims to assess English teachers’ ability in writing good scientific articles. Therefore, the research questions of this study are worded as follows; (1) How is English teachers’ scientific article writing ability? (2) Having known their ability, how ready are they to write good scientific articles? There are several reasons making this study significant. Indonesia seeks to enhance its educational competitiveness level in the world arena, and one effective way to achieve this ambition is through the intensification of publication of articles into well-respected scholarly journals.

The ability of educators, such as English teachers to write good articles need to be identified to support the government publication intensification program. Next, there is little information from empirical research regarding the ability of English teachers from Indonesia to write good articles for scholarly journals. Thus, the results of this research will contribute to the area which is still understudied.

Name : Ardi Marwan

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