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So, the Oz Government wants to ensure that the Oz tax payer gets value for the taxes that pay for me and my colleagues to scuttle and scurry around universities, and our students to read & learn & think & write &..

To this praiseworthy end, each year the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Training ask us to produce copies of everything solid & worthy we've published over the previous year with all sorts of verification information, and of course the all important label MADE IN AN AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY CONTAINING ALL AUSTRALIAN INGREDIENTS. And the "we" includes not only staff but also students - which is right & proper, except that the students get no direct benefit from the labor of copying and collating the information, whereas a small trickle of money comes back to departments on the basis of their research output.

Now, one of our students* has just published an interesting article on grammaticalisation of a Cantonese particle, in the Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Yue dialects (Cheung, H-H; S-H Cheung and H-K Chan (eds) 2007. Dishijie GuoYuefangyan Yantaohui Lunwunji (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press. ISBN 978-7-5004-6582-9). She kindly copied the article, and the preface, the table of contents, and the ISBN publication details page, all of which are needed for verification.

Then we're hit with the 'gotcha'. The article is in English, but the verification material is in Chinese... And this is what the 2007 guidelines [.pdf] say:

9.8. Foreign Language Publications
Foreign language publications are eligible to be counted [JHS: well, yes!]. The same verification evidence is required, in English, as for any other works. It is not necessary to translate the entire publication, but all relevant sections required for the verification of information to demonstrate that it meets the criteria of the category against which it is being claimed. This includes evidence that the work meets the definition of research.

Note: The expertise of the Australian Academy of the Humanities may be used to assist a HEP in the verification of foreign language publications in the fields of the humanities. Any such arrangements are to be negotiated between the Academy and the respective HEP.

Note the phrase 'Any such arrangements'. No such arrangements exist for universities. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations doesn't pay for the translation... Nor does the University of Sydney - probably the cost of organising a translator would outweigh the amount of money they'd receive for the publication. I figure it would take a translator several hours to translate the preface, table of contents and ISBN page. And we don't have the time to do it.

In this way, the Australian Government actively discourages university researchers from publishing in foreign language journals and books.

Lu Ke Wen, another little something for the 2020 summit?

* Winnie Chor: 'Hei as a completive particle in Cantonese', pages 335-346

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.

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