In academic writing, objectivity is imperative. Where subjectivity presents, either in the author’s recommendations or inherent in the research findings, the subjectivity must be made clear to the readers to avoid confusion or bias. In the case of conference or journal papers, the native and or proficient journal editors and reviewers are the target audience, they have to ensure that their publications do not create bias or controversies that may lead to the editors, journal publishers or the academic institutions that the authors belong to losing credibility because the keyword for academic writing, especially concerning publishing, is ‘science’. As science based on published evidence, researchers, editors and peer reviewers must make careful judgement maintain the integrity of the scientific literature. (Reference: Advisory Note “Bias in science publishing”, International Council for Science, http://www.icsu.org/publications/cfrs-statements/bias-in-science-publishing/advisory-note-bias-in-science-publishing) As much as reviewers consciously strive to be objective, sometimes inappropriate bias may occur for several reasons related to the topic of country perspective, which will be further explained in subsequent sections. Interestingly, one recommendation on how publication bias can be reduced is by implementing “double blind” reviewing, where the expert peers who decide whether a paper is sent for further review are advised not to be told the names of the authors, or their addresses or affiliations. Being ‘blinded’ means the author’s name, institution, gender, ethnicity, nationality, are unknown to the reviewers. Depending on the quality and style of the English (and evident country perspective), reviewers may perceive the paper as having been written by someone of a certain nationality. The implication is that it may lead some peer reviewers to be more critical of non-native English. Even though this is bias on their side, but what non-native authors can do is to avoid giving reviewers ‘reasons’ to be potentially bias by ensuring:
- arguments and contents are appropriately supported and sensitive about country perspectives; and
- papers are edited by native editors and reviewed by subject experts before submission.
Other reasons why perspectives of country is an important topic include the fact that most top journals have international audience; therefore, the findings presented must not have bias or at least acknowledge the inevitable bias in the research, otherwise credibility will be lost due to unintentional bias. Furthermore, the audience attention or interest may be reduced if the lack of country perspectives confuses them.
Another possible scenario to bear in mind is that sometimes papers are first published locally in a different language (e.g. a Mandarin Chinese paper published in a Taiwanese journal) but is later translated for publication in an international journal, in this case the author must make sure to review the manuscript for biases and country perspective because the audience has changed.