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Subject: AEJ 04 DeSantoB INTL Exploring the impact of cultural factors in validating research
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 8 Nov 2004 11:14:14 -0500

text/plain (1027 lines)

  This paper was presented at the Association for Education in Journalism
and Mass Communication in Toronto, Canada, August 2004.
        If you have questions about this paper, please contact the author
directly. If you have questions about the archives, email
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(Oct 2004)
Thank you.
Elliott Parker

"Is it right, wrong, or different?  Exploring the impact of cultural
factors in validating research."

Barbara J. DeSanto, Ed.D., APR, Fellow PRSA
Associate Professor
Department of Communication Studies
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Phone:  704.948.7387
Fax:  704.947.6564
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William Thompson
Professional in Residence
Department of Communication
University of Louisville
Phone:  502.852.8169
Fax:  502.584.1932
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Danny Moss, M.A. Hons., Fellow IPR
Senior Lecturer
Manchester Business School
Manchester Metropolitan University
Phone:  011.44.1625.539.772
Fax:  011.44.0161.247.6861
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Submitted to Open Competition Category of the International Communication
Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass
Communication, Toronto, Canada,
August 2004.


Scholarship is an established resource providing practitioners and
educators with knowledge to improve communication from business to
academia.  As communication explodes globally, the importance of sharing
diverse cultural scholarship from around the world is critical to creating
equal global understanding.  This pilot study develops a framework to
assess how the dominant paradigm of U.S.-based journals includes or
excludes the diverse cultural scholarship of global scholars and suggests
ways to further study international journal publication values.

"Is it right, wrong, or different?  Exploring the impact of cultural
factors in validating research."

Submitted to Open Competition Category of the International Communication
Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass
Communication, Toronto, Canada,
August 2004.


Scholarship is an established resource providing practitioners and
educators with knowledge to improve communication from business to
academia.  As communication explodes globally, the importance of sharing
diverse cultural scholarship from around the world is critical to creating
equal global understanding.  This pilot study develops a framework to
assess how the dominant paradigm of U.S.-based journals includes or
excludes the diverse cultural scholarship of global scholars and suggests
ways to further study international journal publication values.

Cultural factors in validating research - 1

Harvard President Derek Bok (1986) identified published research " the
common currency of academic achievement, a currency that can be weighed and
evaluated across institutional and even national boundaries" (p. 77).  The
value of this currency in the academy is widely acknowledged as the
professorial means to tenure, promotion, and recognition as a researcher or
scholar in an area of expertise, especially in higher education
institutions striving to reach the upper levels of university research
designations as established by industry standards such as the Carnegie
                The "banks" for this academic currency are academic journals,
whose missions are to weigh and evaluate the articles through peer review
systems staffed by established, discipline-specific scholars who function
as editors and reviewers.  Each journal articulates its own mission and
criteria for research submissions, and editors and reviewers are instructed
to use those criteria as the standard for validating academic
articles.  Until the last decade, culturally different articles seemed to
generate little discussion or debate over the processes or standards used
to evaluate them as most authors submitted articles in their native
countries.  The result was little thought to the dominant ethnocentric
paradigm each journal reflected in its mission and criteria for submitted
research such as acceptable content, format, and methodology.
                Now, as Bok correctly predicted, scholarship has gone global.  In
communication and public relations today, journals formally seen as
country-specific entities are becoming international academic journals
attracting authors' research articles from around the globe.  In
particular, the leading United States academic journals have seen more
submissions from
Cultural factors in validating research - 2

communication and public relations academics outside the U.S, including
Africa, Asia, and Europe.  This influx of new scholarly articles has
created a new paradigmatic consideration for journal editors and
reviewers:  how culture affects scholarship and acceptable scholarship
standards, including how to evaluate the differences in academic research
produced in different cultures with different research traditions and
standards, as well as different societal conditions toward which the
results of research efforts are being directed.
                This paper is a pilot study to identify the cultural implications
for the dominant academic publishing paradigm of U.S.-based communication
and public relations journals.  As editors and reviewers receive more non
U.S.-based articles to evaluate, the question of how the culturally based
standards of the U.S. journals, editors, and reviewers allow for, or
hinder, the review of research produced in other cultures.
        The study emerges from a recognition inherent in theories of
symbolic interactionism, asserting that conceptions of truth, and the
definitions and acceptability of ideas, objects and people, are constituted
through social interactions that establish culturally specific
meanings.  Extending this interpretation within the parameters of
standpoint theory, factors of dominance and relative power are a natural
foundation from which meaning is determined, and which privilege certain
forms of interpretation over others.
        Viewed through this spectrum, procedures and standards governing
research are merely another form of discourse established through a process
of consensus within a cultural network, in this case the "community" of
scholars.   And, like all forms of discourse, the criteria by which
research is evaluated emerge from the dominance that one particular
co-culture can assert to establish its criteria as the criteria by which
all other research will be measured.
Cultural factors in validating research - 3
Yet, with the increased emphasis placed by U.S.-based public relations and
communications journals on exploring the nature of communication in
different cultures worldwide, the practical effects of what many scholars
might view as an esoteric problem become more immediate.  In effect, the
authors seek to discover if U.S.-based discourse concerning the standards
by which research is evaluated and valued is privileged over those criteria
that might more credibly describe and usefully fulfill the needs of other
cultures from which that research arises.
The importance of this study has implications not only for international
academic knowledge creation and validation, but also for the richness and
depth of knowledge-sharing that global study and practice demand.  A major
consideration is whether country-specific journal review and acceptance
standards, generally viewed as dominant paradigms, allow for research
produced in different cultures and contexts, or whether as Aptheker (1989)
contends "...any one form of co-cultural communication is problematic in
that it promotes a universally accepted cultural iconography that renders
diverse...experiences...invisible" (p. 12 as quoted in Orbe, 1998).
The authors of this study contend that diverse, cultural experiences as
studied, documented, and reported as research cannot ignore significant
research simply because of cultural differences in research methods,
processes, formats, and/or standards.  The question is whether discounting
scholarship developed in different cultural research paradigms is valid
evaluation – or can and/or should new evaluation methods for journals be
developed to consider cultural factors in evaluating and validating research.

Cultural factors in validating research - 4
The representatives of the Western academy indicate they try to encourage
international research.  The founding of international divisions within
academic associations is a recognition that in an era of globalization more
knowledge about international approaches to communication practices is
needed.  Western academicians lead cheers for the relevancy of
international research.  In a forum of editors of management journals "all
expressed eagerness to receive international submissions and a belief that
the quality of research will increase as more manuscripts are obtained from
around the globe" (Eden and Rynes, 2003).
Additionally, there is evidence from the literature that journal editors
try to help international scholars win publication.  While the management
editors engaged in a symposium on international research said they did not
apply higher or lower acceptance standards to international authors, Eden
and Rynes (2003) said "most editors indicated that they tried to 'go the
extra mile' for international submissions."  They indicated that as
editors, they make "editorial suggestions to international authors,
allowing them to revise their work before entering it into the review
process," presumably an option not often made available to authors working
in North America.
Journal editors perceive that international scholars are being better
represented among the pages of their periodicals than before.  An analysis
of issues of the Journal of Management between January 2001 and August 2003
showed that 25 percent had at least one international author (defined in
terms of the author's institutional affiliation), and half of the articles,
even if written by North Americans, were based on data from non-North
American countries (Eden and Rynes, 2003).  Yet Canagarajah (1996) suggests
that few scholars from the periphery are integrated into the Western
publishing world, estimating that only "about 5 percent" of his 250
Cultural factors in validating research - 5
fellow faculty members at the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka could be
considered to be actively publishing in Western journals.
        Any study of the barriers inherent in establishing globalized
research begins with a recognition of the dominant role that the United
States and the English language hold in what Swales (1990) characterizes as
the "knowledge-manufacturing industries" (p. 95).   Even before what is
acknowledged as the explosion of English as the lingua franca (Phillipson,
2003), Garfield in 1978 (cited in Canagarajah, 1996) noted that 80 percent
of the world's scientific articles were written in English.  Even in a
subject area like cross-cultural psychology, whose emphasis would seem to
invite diversity in sources, Baldauf (1986) found that 97 percent of the
journal articles appeared in English-medium publications.   And in another
blow to a belief in a functioning international research community, not
only do most articles appear in English-language journals, but Swales
(1985) found that 80 percent of the contributors to journals in health
sciences and economics were native speakers of English.  The dominance that
this represents comes from realizing that only 5.6 percent of the world's
population in 2000 claimed English as their first language.
        Paired with this acknowledgement of the dominance of English, and
primarily U.S.-based journals, in the creation of academic knowledge, is
the further recognition that the path to academic achievement is tied
intimately to journal publication.  The common perception within the
academy is that publishing in the most prestigious journals is the route to
a successful academic career, vastly overwhelming achievements in service
or teaching, the other two areas that supposedly define faculty roles
(Brodkey, 1987; Winston, 1995).
        This emphasis on publishing has become ever more pronounced in
recent decades.   When in 1969, the Carnegie Foundation's National Surveys
of Faculty asked academicians to
Cultural factors in validating research – 6
  respond to this question:  "In my department is it difficult for a person
to achieve tenure if he or she doesn't publish?", 21 percent of all faculty
strongly agreed.  By the 1989 survey, this had doubled to 42
percent.  Among faculty at comprehensive universities, in which classroom
teaching is supposed to be more valued, the percentage increased sevenfold,
from 6 percent to 43 percent, during that period (Boyer, 1990, 12).    That
emphasis is accelerating, according to the Carnegie Foundation's latest
report (Glasser, Hubbick & Maeroff, 1997).  In that survey, 59 percent of
faculty at all types of colleges and universities indicated that over the
previous five years, research had become even more important in determining
faculty advancement.
        Additionally, what counts is not merely publication, but publication
focused on the right type of articles (research, not pedagogy) in the right
type of periodicals (referred, not mass media), or books (scholarly, not
textbooks) published by prestigious academic presses, distinctions that
seem to be widely acknowledged by Western-based scholars (Roper, 1980;
Gebhardt, 1995; Winston, 1995).
Yet what seems to be a logical basis for evaluating the strength of a
research product, and the competency of the researchers producing that
product, may be the acknowledged standard to a very small percentage of the
world's scholars.   Universities in other parts of the world, for whom
United States-based journals would seem to depend in large measure for
their flow of research on international subjects, judge their faculty
members by different standards.  "Gauging one's intellect or scholarship by
the number of one's publications is a practice of the West not shared by
many periphery academic communities," wrote Canagarajah (1996), who spent
over a decade of his early academic career in Sri Lanka.
There are very practical reasons for this, Canagarajah (1996) writes, which
nonetheless significantly impact the range of voices and research subjects
that emerge from non-Western
Cultural factors in validating research – 7
sources.  Canagarajah notes that some of these problems stem from a lack of
resources that defy the imaginations of Western academicians who complain
about the paucity of funding devoted to U.S.-based universities.  Seemingly
culture-neutral mechanical requirements concerning the quality of paper on
which a manuscript should be submitted, the submission of multiple copies,
or the submission of computer disks as well as hard copy, directly impact
scholarly production in an institutional setting in which high quality
paper is difficult to obtain, and where even when computers are available,
frequent power outages force writers back to more dependable manual
typewriters.  Additionally, municipal or university libraries often have
very limited journal holdings and Internet research resources.   Mail
service for submitting or revising manuscripts takes months, during which
research findings become obsolete and publication prospects become more remote.
        The manuscripts emerging from these conditions are then assessed for
possible publication in academic journals by Western scholars, who
attribute the missed deadlines and appearance of the manuscripts to "sloppy
writing, linguistic incompetence, or shabby professionalism" (Canagarajah,
But there are more profound, systematic barriers that prevent scholars on
the periphery from fully participating in the research discourse that
characterizes how U.S.-based journals validate scholarly proficiency.  In
examining the frustration of foreign graduate students undertaking academic
writing in U.S. universities, Angelova and Riazantseva (1999) noted "that
the underlying issue is not that students cannot write but rather that they
think and write in ways different from the dominant discourse of U.S.
academia."  These nonnative students, according to Fox (1994), have
problems learning how to do critical analysis as a result of a different

Cultural factors in validating research – 8
  "relationship with text and authorities that is taught, both consciously
and unconsciously, by family members, friends, teachers, the media, even
the history of one's country."
Canagarajah (1996) believes these different discourse routines silence
potential Third World scholars from publication in Western
journals.  "Because these mostly bilingual/bicultural scholars are
influenced by their indigenous communicative conventions, their writing
will display peculiarities that are usually treated by Western scholars as
ample evidence of their discursive/academic incompetence."
        These Western scholarly communities are controlled by what Winston (1995)
terms "disciplinary elites," senior, tenured professors who…"have advanced
to their current position of power within the academy by successfully
developing their own disciplines' dominant paradigms" and who maintain an
exclusive "authority to certify what counts as knowledge.  Disciplinary
elites use their control over epistemic certification to maintain their
hegemony within the academy by deciding which practitioners will be
certified as 'professional experts,' whose works will be published, and,
what other activities of professors will be rewarded within academic
        There are dangers to this model, according to Winston (1995).  "This
arrangement serves the interest of the elites more than it does the academy
or society as a whole, since, by forcing other professors to seek their
certification, they both legitimize their own claims to expertise and
exercise control over what ideas and opinions get a chance to shape the
discipline's paradigm."  And Winston wonders whether such a centralized
system can effectively incorporate diverse voices, such as those that may
animate scholarly initiatives from non-Western cultures.  "Thus, thinkers
whose ideas are not in keeping with those of the disciplinary elites can be

Cultural factors in validating research – 9
marginalized, the current paradigm can be protected, and the members of the
current elite can maintain their authority within the academic system."
        According to Roper (1980), the "Old Referee Publishing Network" closes off
certain types of scholarship.  "Occasionally these referees would recommend
the publication of some outsider whose writing did not threaten or counter
the review's own published views."  More often, it "operates as an
agreeable device for controlling or eliminating competition from insightful
scholars with more vigorous ideas than their peers.  All too often the
incantation, 'high standards of scholarship' disguises a silent censorship
of unwelcome outsiders."
        Even those journal editors who try to encourage international scholars in
their publishing endeavors subtly acknowledge the power of the dominant
paradigm and the disciplinary elites who uphold it.  In an article
suggesting tactics to non-North American writers hoping to break into
academic journals, journal editors Dov Eden and Sara Rynes (2003) wrote
that academic submissions should contain ideas and theories that, while
different, "did not violate too many assumptions, or violate core
assumptions by too much, since doing so was likely to invite psychological
rejection by readers."
        This brings into question whether North American research standards can
accommodate alternative perceptions that conflict with either a Western
paradigm that validates "good" research, or perhaps more importantly,
cultural perceptions that conflict with Western cultural standards.  Eden
and Rynes (2003) cite questions from an audience of international scholars
in management theory who wondered if research from the periphery could be
published in U.S.-based journals because it "was more likely to be critical
of management, to take the perspective of stakeholders, other than managers
or shareholders (employees, unions, or the general public, for instance),
and to use qualitative rather than quantitative methods."
Cultural factors in validating research – 10
        This results in "an ideological straitjacket on periphery scholarship,"
and actually diminishes the diversity that international scholarship should
celebrate, according to Canagarajah (1996):
"Dominating the publishing industry and functioning as the clearing house
for research work globally, the center gets the privilege of defining
intellectual trends and practices.  It is not that center journals do not
publish a range of alternative opinions on a given subject; it is that the
range of opinions will be within a range tolerable to center
interests.  Thus the hegemony in the publishing industry can serve the
larger political function of reproducing center institutions, ideologies,
and discourses in periphery communities."
To readers familiar with critical theory, this description of the place of
international scholars may provoke echoes of the struggle for expression by
groups who find themselves as less-enfranchised among a dominant group that
has formulated a "communication system that supports their perceptions of
the world and conceptualizes it as the appropriate language for the rest of
society"  (Orbe, 1998).
Although Orbe's (1998) research centers on the interplay of "co-cultures,"
which he defines as the "interactions among the diverse collections of
persons who call the United States 'home' (p. 30), his descriptions of the
struggle of muted groups for expression can be applied to international
scholars striving to communicate their ideas through Western-based academic
research establishment.
Orbe bases his co-culture system on the muted-group theory formulated by
Ardener (1975), which suggested that "those groups that function at the top
of the social hierarchy determine to a great extent the communication
system of the entire society...
Cultural factors in validating research – 11
which renders those persons outside the dominant group 'inarticulate'"
(Orbe, 1998, p. 8-9).  Further, as is the case among academic elites, the
dominant group will also "establish evaluative criteria for the
communication of themselves and others" (p.9).
Orbe's (1998) premises of co-cultural theory provide a useful framework
from which to examine the accommodation of international scholarship within
the dominant Western framework that validates research.
1.      In each society, a hierarchy exists that privileges certain groups of
2.      On the basis of these varying levels of privilege, dominant group
members occupy positions of power that they use - consciously or
unconsciously - to create and maintain communication systems that reflect,
reinforce, and promote their field of experiences.
3.      Directly and/or indirectly, these dominant communication structures
impede the progress of those persons whose lived experiences are not
reflected in the public communication systems.
4.      Although reflected a widely diverse array of lived experiences,
co-cultural group members...will share a similar societal position that
renders them marginalized and underrepresented within dominant structures.
5.      To confront oppressive dominant structures and achieve any measure of
"success, co-cultural group members strategically adopt certain
communication behaviors when functioning within the confines of public
communicative structures (p. 11).
        Individuals in less powerful co-cultures calculate their communication
actions within a spectrum of often interlocking considerations, according
to Orbe (1998).    In
Cultural factors in validating research –12
the first of these, "preferred outcome," co-cultural members decide upon a
communication strategy to create a particular communication
environment.  They may want a separate communication environment in which
co-culture members can communicate separately from the dominant
worldview.  In other situations, less powerful co-cultural members may want
to assimilate to the dominant co-culture by assuming the communication
practices of co-cultural group members from dominant groups.  In
accommodation, those in less powerful groups insist that dominant
structures incorporate the discourse patterns of less powerful co-cultural
groups under the assumption that it "promotes the collaborative strengths
of multicultural society" (Orbe, 1998, p. 91).
        A co-cultural member's communication responses are also affected by his or
her "field of experience," those lived experiences of each audience member
and his or her observation of the "perceived costs and rewards" resulting
from certain types of communication behaviors.  This comes, Orbe asserts,
from an observation of  the "situational context" that each co-culture
members undertakes before deciding upon a communication strategy.   The
person's "communication approach" may vary on a continuum between
nonassertive, assertive and aggressive behavior.  Finally, the choice of
communication behaviors may also be affected by the communicator's
"abilities," the person's capacity to engage in an alternative behavior,
which is often limited by the dominant co-culture (Orbe, 1995, pp. 89-106).
Orbe's co-cultural theory appears to be manifested both by the behaviors of
the disciplinary elites identified by Winston (1995) and by the coping
tactics that Canagarajah (1996 and 2003) and his colleagues used to gain
access for their research from the periphery.  For that reason, the authors
feel that we can usefully discuss the
Cultural factors in validating research –13
problems of encouraging international research within the framework of a
co-cultural theory, in which the participants, while nominally members of a
"community of scholars," nonetheless are separated by a previously
established cultural language that has been adopted by a dominant group of
Western-based scholars, and then been imposed to validate the research,
conclusions and results of those scholars working on the periphery.
        This brings into stark contrast some of the potential problems facing the
academy as it strives to integrate international research into its
publishing discourses.  Does imposing a single model of scholarly discourse
on research emerging from diverse regions and diverse cultures inhibit some
types of inquiry, or propel researchers to certain findings?  Does
encouraging that a single model of discourse taught by Western universities
be applied to non-Western settings, encouraged for the sake of recognizing
diversity, actually make the world a more homogeneous place, based on a
Western model?
Would recognizing a model of non-Western university life, in which
academicians are more heavily engaged in communicating research findings to
non-academicians, contribute more to society and to faculty satisfaction,
than a model in which researchers produce little-read articles for other
researchers, and few of their findings seem to reach the outside world?
Finally, does the research discourse propounded by Western universities
actually have a legitimate claim to validate an independent truth better
than another discourse model?   Or, is it merely a system by which power
and influence are preserved and distributed to individuals who have
mastered it, and serves to protect and perpetuate the societal institutions
and cultural practices that produced it?

Cultural factors in validating research –14

        The potentiality of cultural paradigms to inhibit and distort our
understanding of the world has been acknowledged within the academic
literature.  The incomplete understandings that are conjoined with
privileged viewpoints have often been noted within the discourse that is
advertising, social constructions of health and beauty, gender expectations
of vocational success and other areas.  Even popular perception, fed by
newspaper and mass media reports, is conscious of the disparities in
research funding devoted to various aspects of women's or African
Americans' health as opposed to that devoted to men or Caucasians.
Although this observation would seem to be more apparent in theoretical
perspectives in the social sciences, where perspectives emerging under the
names of Marxism, postmodernism, and critical theory are readily
acknowledged, the impact of social constructionism has been a frequent
perspective from which to view the production of knowledge in the so-called
hard sciences.   Pickering (1995), for example, suggests that scientific
investigation must be "understood as the work of cultural extension (p.3),
and applies the method to physics.  Gilbert and Mulkay (1984) suggest that
biochemistry research is shaped by "social, political and personal factors"
(p. 1).   Myers (1990) devotes his book to showing how the studies of
biology "reproduce the cultural authority of that knowledge"  (p. ix).
Yet another of those viewpoints from which we can examine how a discourse
form can be privileged is from the perspective of the geographical origin
of the knowledge.  This study wishes to explore that orientation, to
discover if U.S.-based discourse concerning the standards by which research
is evaluated and valued is privileged over those criteria that might more
credibly describe and usefully fulfill the needs of other cultures from
which that research arises.
Cultural factors in validating research –15
The authors frame this encounter of research emerging from different
cultures within Habermas' three characteristics of universal pragmatics
(Littlejohn, 2002).    Habermas asserts the workings of any culture are
established through the integration of the three interests of interaction,
work, and power.  Interaction, as Habermas defines it, is the imposition of
language and other symbol systems that establish the perception of social
communities.  Work is a "technical interest," the instrumental effort to
employ human knowledge to create material resources and
wealth.    Habermas' final characteristic is power.  The effective result
of affirming social order is the dominance of one group over another, and
the privileging of that group's discourse over another.
 From the standpoint of international research then, Habermas' orientation
prompts us to explore how the dominance of U.S.-based models for scholarly
research on communication may skew the subjects that are researched, the
research methods that are employed, and the research articles that
eventually make their way to the attention of the academic and professional
community the world over.
The examination we have conducted is framed within Habermas' three
characteristics that define universal pragmatics, and are used to analyze
data about the journals and editors' responses to questions about how they
review international articles within the perspective of what could be
construed as culturally based methodology processes, study formats and
structures, and results.  Interaction, the first of Habermas'
characteristics, is interpreted as the use of symbolic rhetorical systems
that establish membership within a community.   The second of the universal
pragmatics is work, and has been interpreted to refer to fostering and
maintaining the day-to-day functioning of the journals' production, in this
case the technical procedures related to research validation.  The third
characteristic, power, is used to explore conscious and
Cultural factors in validating research –16
procedural elements that may be a factor in maintaining or transforming
advantaged or disadvantaged groups within society.
                This pilot study is intended to assess the level of encouragement
afforded to international scholarship by editors of U.S.-based
communication journals, and to informally correlate whether those editorial
initiatives are supported by formal policies, personnel decisions, and
mechanical aspects that govern the review process. The pilot study consists
of two parts:  (1) in-depth interviews with the editors of five major U.S.
communication journals to identify the commitment of each journal to
encouraging international scholarship and to determine if those aspirations
are manifested in the technical aspects of the editorial review process;
and (2) an examination of the institutional affiliations of the journals'
editorial review committees and of the formal editorial submission policies
of those journals to determine whether policy encourages international
research and whether international voices are included among the journals'
formal reviewing structures.
        The common feature of the five journals and their editors was that all of
the journals consistently published public relations scholarship.  Their
efforts included existing solely to publish critical cultural and
historical research in primarily qualitative formats; foster theory and
methodology building appropriate to public relations; and disseminate
information to "the fraternity" of public relations practitioners.
                Habermas' first societal interest is INTERACTION, the discourse
necessary to establish membership within a community.  Many of our
questions during the in-depth interviews with the

Cultural factors in validating research –17
five editors focused on their encouragement of international scholars and
international research project.
                During our interviews, all of the editors agreed that international or
global scholarship is now a mainstream activity for all scholars, domestic
and international.  One editor summed it up this way: "I've been thinking
more and more that journal editing today is in very exciting times because
of the Internet and going global.  It has just globalized our efforts.  We
are bringing the world together."  A second editor said she valued the
different ideas that international scholars can bring to public relations
scholarship.  "International scholars can bring that perspective," she
said.  Yet another editor, highlighting that her journal originated as a
conscious reaction to statistically based and effects-driven U.S. mass
communication scholarship, noted that much of what is now considered to be
"American" research genres developed from research approaches pioneered in
other countries.   She cited the Frankfurt and U.K. critical cultural
schools as examples.
                However, despite the importance they placed on the importance of research
generated by international scholars, none of the five editors kept specific
statistics on the number of submissions from scholars in countries outside
the United States.  They also did not keep statistics on the number of
international articles rejected or published, although several of them
thought they would return to their databases where they kept a log of such
data and count how many fit the category.
                In fact, this question somewhat surprised  most of the editors; several
said they never saw any need to keep those statistics.  One editor said she
did not make those distinctions because she never felt compelled to make
any special overtures to international scholars because she always "felt
the journal was for the entire world community."  From the journal's
beginning, it has
Cultural factors in validating research –18
always attracted many international submissions, she said.  Another editor,
who also did not keep formal statistics, reported that a quick look through
her database revealed that of the 45 submissions to her journal for the
first three quarters of her publication year, one-third were from authors
outside of the United States, including Israel, South Korea, and the Caribbean.
                Another form of interaction is the formal encouragement the journals
provide in the form of  the contributor's information to communicate the
research focus of each journal and the procedural requirements for
submissions. While the journal editors who were interviewed unanimously
expressed the belief that international research was important to their
particular academic areas, there was little literal evidence of
encouragement in the journals' editorial policies or their editorial boards.
                Four of the five journals studied included printed contributor
information and editorial guidelines in their publications.  None of the
four journals explicitly solicited research from any geographical location,
including those from international authors.   However, one of the journals
encouraged research into "society across time and culture," a statement
that could be viewed as obliquely suggesting work on international topics.
                While one of the journals examined specified that articles "based
on empirical research...are welcomed," and did not mention other research
orientations, the others expressed that alternative research methodologies
were appropriate.   Only one of the journals suggested it published
research that "should challenge the boundaries of communication research,"
although another suggested its purpose was to "publish research that builds
public relations theory."  A third also expressed a theme of exploration,
articulating that it was a forum for understanding communication in a way
that "cannot arise solely out of a narrowly focused analysis."

Cultural factors in validating research –19
                These editorial guidelines remain relatively static, according to the
editors interviewed.  Formal changes to the missions articulated in each of
the journal's submission guidelines have not changed during the tenure of
any of the current five editors (one of which has lasted 30 years in his
editorship), although individual editors make independent decisions
applying the guidelines to individual situations.  A second editor said her
international journal's guidelines were written by the journal's original
                While there may be little formal encouragement to international
scholarship, several of the journal editors indicated they make informal
overtures to solicit new viewpoints and new authors for their
publications.  Editors interviewed saw soliciting manuscripts for their
journals as a responsibility to their readers and to their fields.  One
editor said he makes an effort to attend conferences outside his main
discipline of journalism, including the International Communication
Association annual conference and the regional Association for Education in
Journalism and Mass Communication conferences.  If he hears an exceptional
paper at these conferences, he said he encourages the authors to submit
them to his journal.  Another editor said her journal's special theme
issues draw a diverse range of submissions, including more international
submissions, than the regular calls for papers.
                Habermas defined work as the technical, instrumental actions necessary to
accomplish a goal.  In this study, Habermas' WORK is defined as the
internal processes of the academy to get articles published, specifically
how and what the editor does to get each issue to its readers.
                "Desk review," the initial appraisal of a submission as suitable for the
journal and thus sent out for review, is a duty the editors said they
perform.  All of the editors said one of the first decisions they make
about a submission is its suitability in topic and methodology to the
Cultural factors in validating research –20
journal's mission. One editor said his duty as an editor is to ensure
manuscripts sent out for review are worthy of being reviewed.  "I don't
want to trouble reviewers with non-relevant articles or manuscripts."
                Editors spoke to the individual considerations that they provide to
assist scholars in getting published.  Four of the editors said they have
personal dialogue with the scholars about their articles, including
manuscript length, topic suitability for the journal, or other publication
outlets more suitable for the article.  One editor said she often suggests
revision strategies, "such as hiring an editor or other writing help.  If
it's a small consideration in English, we can correct that," she said.
"Line-editing, cleaning things up" is another service one editor
provides.  Several editors said they routinely suggest that non-native
speakers get a native speaker fluent in both languages to edit their work
and act as a co-author. Elements involving methodology or theory, what one
editor called "the meat of the paper, the author works with that."  Another
editor said his contact was part of his editorial leadership; "they
(authors) deserve to know and I make suggestions."
                Once articles have cleared this initial hurdle, the editors saw selecting
the reviewers as one of their major editorial responsibilities.  Three of
the five editors said they specifically tried to match articles' topics,
methodology, and/or theoretical basis with reviewers who had expertise in
those areas.   One editor said she also tries to get at least one native
speaker from the author's native country on the review team.  "And I try to
match indigenous topics to the country, " she said.
                Another editor, however, said he most often "pretty randomly" assigns
articles to reviewers because "our reviewers are knowledgeable and
acknowledged as knowledgeable."  He

Cultural factors in validating research –21
describes his reviewers as "primarily people who have established a
reputation and published, and are known for that reputation."
                A third editor said there is no scientific way to select reviewers,
although she does try to match reviewer experience with the topic and
content of the article.  But she said, "Nationality is secondary to the
topic."  She ranked theory and methodology as the most important criteria
in matching reviewers to articles.
                Selecting reviewers for journals appears to be left up to individual
editors, the editors in this study said.  One editor relies on the 70+
members of his standing editorial board, who were invited to be on the
board, to suggest additional reviewers with expertise areas germane to the
journal.  He also relies on editorial board members to reach outside the
journalism focus of his journal to suggest editors from other sectors, such
as NCA, to review articles with a communication focus.
                Editors were asked about their experience in dealing with reviewers'
comments about authors' English language fluency, knowledge of journals'
submission guidelines and standards, submission procedures, the journals'
editorial focus, and expertise in research methods acceptable to each
respective journal.  Editors indicated that reviewers' most frequent
complaint about international scholars was a lack of knowledge about the
editorial standards or focus of a journal.   The third most cited response
was the author's poor English language skills.
                The language-proficiency issue provoked contradictory responses.  One
editor said he has never had a reviewer comment on the poor English skills
by an author; he called that approach "hard-hearted," and said, "English
usage alone has never been the determining factor" in whether an article
was rejected or accepted.  Another editor said she feels that her reviewers
often address the language issue, but in a "very open-minded way."
Cultural factors in validating research –22
                The editors also disagreed concerning whether reviewers noted an
article's origin as they assessed it.  One editor said his reviewers do not
have a clue about the domestic or international origins of articles;
calling reviewers' reading of these manuscripts "internal guesswork."
                Another said she believes reviewers can tell that an article is from
outside the U.S., particularly from things like sentence structure.  She
said reviewers often make grammatical suggestions and copy-edit manuscripts
for the authors as part of their review.  One editor credits his reviewers
with being diplomatic and saying things in their review such as "it is
fairly apparent that English is not the first language" of this
author.  One of the editors simply said, "The biggest factor in
international public relations is the language."
                None of the editors had formal training in place for their journal
reviewers.  Two of the editors, however, said they exchange all article
reviews from an article among the three reviewers so they can learn from
one another.  One editor said she tries to get at least one native speaker
from the author's country on the review team; "I try to find a reviewer who
speaks the native language."
        Habermas' POWER interest is defined as the type of vision or direction
that is being reinforced and upheld, and the ways in which structures and
authority positions are used to privilege a particular vision.   In this
study, editors were asked if international scholars received "different"
treatment than domestic researchers when their articles were being
considered or reviewed for publication.   They gave mixed responses, and
sometimes even contradicted what they had said earlier in the interview.

Cultural factors in validating research –23
        One editor said his decisions are based on the philosophy of "keeping the
playing field level."  He feels that no one, domestic or international,
gets special attention that way; "Nobody gets a special break."
Several editors pointed to the blind review process of their journals as
evidence that all authors are treated equally.  One said, "Reviewers don't
know where the scholarship originated, and whether it was a scholar outside
the U.S."  He said that if the article conforms to the standards and
guidelines of the journal, reviewers will not be able to tell it is from a
country outside the United States.  He did agree, however, that if the
article was poorly prepared or "sited in Europe," reviewers might pick up
on the article's origins.  "But that's not an international problem," he
said – it applies equally to domestic scholarship.
Despite their perception of an even-handed approach, the editors, as
detailed in a previous section, did admit to providing extra help to
international authors, advising on revision strategies, doing line-editing
to accommodate for deficient English skills and sometimes selecting
particular reviewers in light of a authors' research style or
nationality.  One of the editors indicated that she is there to assist the
authors; "I feel like it's our duty to pull these international scholars
along," she said.  "I feel as a community we are very receptive and
supportive; people in favor of international scholars do make allowances."
However, strains remain in the formal acceptance process that may prejudice
the chances for international scholars to be published.  While one editor
said that her journal "values all viewpoint," the editors acknowledged that
reviewers commonly complain that they were unfamiliar with alternative
research methods or approaches to research used by international scholars.

Cultural factors in validating research –24
                Additionally, more subtle, institutional barriers may remain.   One
editor acknowledged that requiring adherence to a style, such as APA or
Chicago, may put constraints on the types of scholarship accepted for
publication.  One editor said that APA style particularly hinders scholars
who write historical or rhetorical/critical articles because the social
scientific citation style does not apply well to those topics.  She
believes the result of that production restriction is fewer public
relations articles about history and critical theory, or that such types of
articles are scattered throughout other journals whose style accommodates
those citation systems.
                That may particularly hurt the publishing choices of international
authors, who, according to an earlier cited reference to Eden and Rynes
(2003) may wish to explore topics that are more critical of management or
political perspectives.  In fact, in their interviews, the editors
confirmed that they felt that research was better employed to construct and
refine theoretical approaches to communication, and least essential in
equalizing power between competing forces in society.
                Additionally, the supposedly blind review process may, unconsciously,
cast up another barrier that has to be surmounted by international scholars
with different viewpoints.  If a breadth of viewpoints might make it easier
to understand a different research or social orientation, or make it easier
to recruit a reviewer with such a different outlook, an enumeration of the
editorial board members serving these five journals show that they
overwhelmingly have one viewpoint, a viewpoint from the United States.
                All five journals listed an editorial board, advisory board,
editorial review committee or contributing editors.  At the end of 2003,
the percentage of those editorial advisors who claimed an institutional
identification outside the United States on a specific journal ranged from
zero percent to 15 percent.   Contradicting the characterization of many of
the authors quoted in the
Cultural factors in validating research –25
literature review that the focus of power was among North Americans, the
communication journals we assessed were overwhelmingly advised not just by
North Americans, but more specifically by individuals from the United
States.  Among the 256 total editorial board members on the five journals,
92.6 percent represented United States-based institutions, with only one
board member from Canada and none from Mexico.
                Among the remaining non-U.S. editorial board members, seven were
from Europe, two from the Middle East, six from Asia, and three from
Australia or New Zealand.  Two continents, South America and Africa, had no
editorial board members on the journals.
                That representation of different viewpoints shrinks further if one
considers the number of English speakers among the foreign editorial board
members.  Of the 19 individual board members (one person served on two
editorial boards) who were not from the United States, only 12, or 4.7% of
all editorial advisors, represented institutions located in nations that
were not predominantly English speaking.
                In some cases, this breadth of viewpoints shrank even further.  One of
the editors surmised that the editorial process established to select
editors might unknowingly seek out the same kind of editors as previous
ones, thus perpetuating the same philosophy, maintaining the status
quo.  This "old referees network" that Roper (1980) alleges, seemed to be
confirmed by at least one of the journals.  Although it did not have a
single editorial board member from outside the United States, 27% of its
total board was from universities associated with the Big Ten athletic

Cultural factors in validating research –26


"Comparative cultural analysis requires a delicate touch.  Carried to
extremes, it becomes nationalism or worse.  In the other direction, it
becomes cultural relativism, which denies both the importance of culture
and normative differences among cultures.  There is room in the middle for
serious thought..."
R. L. Stevenson (1997)

                This research has revealed that our five U.S. journal editors all
acknowledge international scholarship, defined here as scholarship
originating outside the U.S. by non-American scholars, exists and deserves
to be encouraged and developed.  However, there are much different, and
sometimes contradictory, perceptions of how international scholarship can
be encouraged and how it should be accomplished.  These conundrums exist
not only at the discourse level of the national culture, but even within
the standards and processes at work in each journal, the grammar of the
research process, if you will.
                Technical considerations, such as citation styles and formats, are one of
the first elements to be considered for publication. Several editors cited
"desk review" as usual procedure for even deciding whether or not to send a
submission out for review.  Other editors said they believe that such
standards do constrain scholarship even to the point of excluding or
discouraging certain types of scholarship, such as critical analysis or
historical ventures, but none suggested changing the technical
considerations as a possible avenue for encouraging more international
publication.  It can then be argued that academic environments where
critical cultural or historical discourse formats are more common do not
have a level playing field when seeking publication in a U.S.-based journal.
                In fact, most of the editors said they did provide extra help to
international authors, advising on revisions, suggesting native speaker
assistance in rewriting, and selecting reviewers
Cultural factors in validating research –27
who spoke the author's native language.  While this does indeed improve
international authors' chances of getting a fair review, it still maintains
the dominant paradigm's position of fitting into its guidelines as they
stand, rather than adapting the guidelines to the changing reality of
international publishing.  The comment by one editor that "nobody gets a
special break" illustrates the almost sanctity to compliance with the
status quo guidelines.
                The roles that the editors in this study saw themselves playing
incorporated both facilitator and final authority.  Editors routinely said
they helped international authors by suggesting revisions and ways to get
their submissions published.  They also aided their reviewers by informally
educating them about the review process and in seeking out reviewers who
they felt would provide fair, balanced review for articles.  With the
facilitating, however, were also overtones of final authority in the desk
review and adherence to established journal standards and procedures.  The
editors' perceptions suggest the journals' missions provide the ultimate
authority, and they see themselves as guardians of that viewpoint.
                This study also suggests that the dominant status of U.S. journals is
reinforced and perpetuated by the make-up of editorial and review board
members.  The number of international scholars on the boards of these five
U.S. journals might at best be called "encouraging."  At their worst, they
were nonexistent.  Editors said they often went searching for non-U.S.
natives to read articles from other countries, and several said they were
actively seeking such scholars as editorial board members and
reviewers.  The question again becomes whether these scholars, when and if
found, must "fit" into the U.S. paradigm?  Can their opinions and outlooks
carry the same weight as U.S. reviewers if they don't share the culturally
structured sureties about the U.S.-based academic discourse?   And if they
are non-U.S. natives who have been educated

Cultural factors in validating research –28
within the American university system, will they naturally use the dominant
American paradigm to judge the worth of scholarship, their own included?
                The implications for a true and comprehensive exploration of the
knowledge contained within the communication practices of other cultures
would seem self-evident.  If certain topics remain unexplored simply
because they don't lend themselves to expression within a certain citation
form, or because they don't use an inquiry form that a U.S.-educated
scholar even recognizes as a valid research form, we can hardly claim to be
encouraging international research.  Instead, we may be asking scholars
from the periphery to mold their views of their worlds to fit the
perspective we have of our own.
                We feel a profound need to deal with this issue.  Our literature review
cited scholars insisting that the study of chemistry and physics was
affected by the cultural standpoint of the scholar studying those
fields.  But one could assert rather confidently that cells rarely change,
or forces of mass change because we study them.
                Scholars of human communication cannot be so confident.  Instead of
celebrating and discovering diversity, we may be unintentionally forcing a
conformity of viewpoints -- that instead of enlightening us to new ways of
viewing the varied manifestations of human discourse -- paradoxically
shoehorns those diverse viewpoints into what we in the West perceive
communication to be, perhaps destroying that insight into other cultures we
had hoped to gain by our study.
                This pilot study suggests many more questions than it answered.  The
authors plan to expand this study to include more U.S. journalism, mass
communication, and communication journals for their perceptions about, and
work with, international scholarship and authors.
Cultural factors in validating research –29
Further study with this increased number of journal editors and their
experiences with international authors and submissions will add to and
refine the findings of this study and may suggest more ways to level the
international publication field.
                Reviewers are another sector that needs to be studied, particularly their
perceptions and assumptions made while reviewing articles that they "think"
are international submissions.  It can be argued that reviewers may be the
most important part of this process because their assessments and
recommendations are the definitive word on the value and/or importance of
the work in front of them.
                Non-U.S. scholars are the third group that comprises the publishing
triangle.  Their perceptions and understanding of the publishing process
form the basis of their work.  How they interpret and adapt their
scholarship to U.S.-based journals can provide useful insights into what
the U.S. academic publishing process actually produces.
                Underlying each of these three elements is culture.  Habermas' three
characteristics provide a useful megatheoretical perspective on
international publishing and Orby's six premises of co-cultural theory
provide a pragmatic viewpoint.  Exploring the perceptions and experiences
of editors, reviewers, and authors at both levels should help define the
cultural linkage that appears to underlie this study, and we hope, lead to
recommendations as to ways in which we can maintain intellectually rigorous
standards of scholarship while acknowledging the spectrum of knowledge that
our study of international cultures is hoping to discover.

 Cultural factors in validating research –30
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