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Research Young Academy Groningen About us Projects "Language buddies" for Ukrainian researchers

Project background


As you know, Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, an illegitimate and immoral act of aggression that was condemned loudly on the stage of international politics. The war also threw academic life in Ukraine into disarray; many of our colleagues have left the country but others are not allowed to; for most of them, continuing their academic work became very challenging.

As a group of researchers in the Netherlands, we were involved in conversations with Ukrainian colleagues (both in Ukraine and elsewhere) about what to do to help. Our Ukrainian friends suggested thinking in the longer term: to create networks and build capacities in ways that would also help internationalize Ukrainian academia in the future. One concrete proposal was to support Ukrainian researchers to publish internationally, by helping them edit their papers. Many Ukrainians had limited opportunities to learn English; they would have to pay for professional editing but this is not affordable for many, especially in times of war. Ukrainian colleagues shared their frustration about many papers being desk-rejected because of linguistic or stylistic issues.

If colleagues from other countries help Ukrainian scholars to edit their papers, or to advise them on where to publish them, their work can become accessible to scientists and scholars worldwide. This can help create networks in which scholars from different countries can learn from each other and support each other, and maybe even use those connections as a basis for future collaborations or joint grant applications.

The "language buddies" model

In this pilot project, we aim at pairing volunteers with scientists and scholars from Ukraine that need help with editing a paper or other text for publication in an English-speaking journal. Volunteers put down their contact details and academic field and the amount of help they are willing and able to give - it can be as little as a few hours per year. We pair volunteers and those seeking help, sorting them by field and research approach.

Why Ukraine?

There are lots of world regions in which scholars suffer from wars, civil wars, or other challenges (e.g. insufficient salaries in academic institutions). Ideally, we would be able to offer help to all. The idea developed in the concrete context of solidarity with Ukrainian researchers, that is why we have decided to keep this focus for the time being. If the pilot goes well, we hope to be able to upscale the project so that it could cover academics from many more world regions.

Last modified:31 October 2022 4.24 p.m.