Swedish funding bodies: ‘Apply in English’

A number of Swedish organizations that provide research funding have petitioned the Swedish government to require potential recipients to submit their applications in English, a practice that the Swedish Ombudsman of Justice (Justitieombudsmannen) has ruled to be in violation of Swedish language law.

The new language law came into force on July 1st 2009, making Swedish the country’s official “main language”.

But the research funding bodies claim that applications in Swedish make it difficult to maintain the desired quality due to the international nature of the research community.

The petitioning organizations include the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) and the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA).

“Research is international and is becoming all that much more so. Research of the highest scientific quality within the majority of academic disciplines should be evaluated in an international perspective and by international experts – in other languages than Swedish,” the organizations write in the petition.

They continue by stating that English is often the lingua franca of the scientific community.

“The background for this (English) language requirement is that the research funding bodies are of the opinion that they cannot achieve their quality requirements, which were established by the Swedish government, if applications are only evaluated by researchers who have mastered the Swedish language.”

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