Here is an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education on the use of English as a lingua franca outside of English-speaking countries. It discusses many interesting issues–such as the cultural dimensions of communication–before concluding with a highly provocative point about the future of English. Although it is often assumed that being a lingua franca is a sign of linguistic vigour, some scholars suggest the opposite: that the English that is spoken as a global lingua franca may actually be a much reduced language and thus a vulnerable one.
This article from Nature discusses the role of commercial manuscript editing. The author does an excellent job highlighting the various practical and ethical issues associated with commercial manuscript editing services. In doing so, she also tells us something about the priorities of scientific journal editors. These editors want manuscripts that they can send to reviewers without worrying that flaws in the writing will get in the way of assessment. But, interestingly, the flaws that worry them are not just grammatical; they are just as concerned about a poor mastery of the conventions of research articles. Novice academic writers need to understand what a manuscript must accomplish if it is to be considered for publication. The assessment ‘weak writing’ can be used to describe anything from punctuation difficulties to a poorly articulated methodology to improperly presented data; understanding the importance of all these elements will allow writers to see that the work of improving their writing will have to proceed on many fronts.
Lastly, here is a blog post from The Thesis Whisperer about the similarity of literature reviews and social media. The specifics are Australian, but the general ideas about literature reviews are broadly applicable. And the social media analogy is clever. You really don’t have to be friends with everybody or every article!