The linguistic implications of academic performance indicators: General trends and case study

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This article analyses the new system of indicators adopted in Italy to evaluate universi-ties’ research activities. I show that it provides an implicit structure of economic incen-tives which de facto is likely to favor the use of English in scientific communication. This is due, among other things, to the use of bibliometric indicators and databases skewed in favor of English. I also analyze the rising phenomenon of programmes taught entirely in English in Italian universities, and I show that the introduction of pro-grammes in English does not seem to respond to a real demand by students or to a de-mand for language skills on the Italian labor market. Rather, it is related to the use of the number of foreign students as an indicator of university performance. The focus of the article is on the respective use of Italian and English in Italian universities, but gen-eral remarks are also relevant to other countries and the European Union as a whole. This article emphasizes the effects of academic performance indicators on linguistic di-versity and thus their role as a language policy tool. In addition, it addresses the ques-tion of the quality of indicators currently employed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-156
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number261
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 7 Jul 2012


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