French-language university research and publications facing limitations in Canada: study

A study released Monday concludes that numerous problems face French-speaking researchers in Canada, particularly those working in minority settings.

The university study, conducted with Acfas, an association that promotes research and innovation in the French-speaking world, points to a lack of support and recognition, heavier administrative and teaching duties as well as difficulties in organizing scientific events in French.

The research, titled 'A portrait of the challenges of French-language research in a minority context in Canada,' also points to the pressure to publish in English, the increasing use of English for grant applications and a disadvantage, in some cases, when applications are submitted in French.

In the francophone minority settings, where universities are smaller, teaching loads are often higher and access to teaching assistants and grant writing services is more difficult, reducing the time available to conduct research.

Respondents in the study said publications in French are less valued and have less impact on their career advancement.

Publications in the natural and health sciences are almost exclusively in English, while in the humanities and social sciences, English is gaining ground.

In addition, about 90 per cent of new journals published in Canada since 2005 are in English, leaving very little room for bilingual and French-language journals.

The study states that French-speaking researchers who submit applications in French to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are also at a disadvantage.

The study proposes nine recommendations to increase the value of francophone scientific production in Canada.

The main recommendation advocates for the creation of a French-language research assistance service to offer support and promote scientific production in French.

Other recommendations aim to help researchers or support universities and scholarly publishing bodies.

In an environment where English largely dominates, the authors of the study state the implementation of these recommendations is essential to maintain scientific production in French and make it accessible to the francophone population.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 7, 2021. 

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