Open Access Week

October 24 - 30, 2022 | Everywhere

I believe that all of us, in one way or another, seek to feel part of something, be it a group of friends, an activity, or an idea of our own or shared with others. However, how can we be part of something when this interconnected world allows us to reach all places but omits the particular culture of each of those societies? How can we participate and try to communicate if our languages are different? This is a challenge not only in our spoken languages, but also in our technological, scientific, and scholarly language, which has been oriented to move forward without considering the exclusion that it itself produces.
While research is performed around in the world, in a variety of contexts, cultures and languages, scientific articles have not modified their structure. There is significant room for improvement to make articles more inclusive: summaries in several languages, identification of elements used (in biological sciences), and common vocabulary (finding different definitions for reproducibility and replicability), among others.
Currently, the burden of navigating between contexts are disproportionately borne by those who don't speak English, in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Journals in other languages, including Spanish, often require a summary in English and can have significant challenges in getting visibility.
It is time for the global research community to discuss how we can create a new ecosystem for knowledge production and sharing that truly represents its global nature. Research should reflect the needs of the diverse context in which it is conducted—in the research questions asked, how it is made accessible, and the languages that it is shared in.
We should strive for and celebrate a research ecosystem that is multilingual and resist the pressures toward monoculture. This is a great challenge and one where the burden should be shared by all, not just those on the margins.

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Comment by Garima Singh on October 25, 2018 at 1:50am

Thanks for the post. Not just scientific research but education too suffers from not being translated effectively into various languages. In northern India, many Hindi medium schools that teach subjects like science and mathematics in Hindi are there and many students study these subjects in Hindi. However, at college levels or post graduation levels, many subjects are not available in Hindi language. Some technical jargon is difficult to translate into Hindi or any other language. It is interesting that we want transparency and common language in knowledge transfer and at the same time we want to also translate it in different languages. It is very challenging to practically make knowledge multilingual and maintain a common technical language at the same time. It is just like having to convert machine readable language into a host of machine readable formats depending on what kind of machine a region is utilizing rather than having one or two central machine readable formats for the data. Universality does matter in maintaining transparency, neutrality in transfer of knowledge. In my opinion, if at least the lay summaries of research are available in multiple languages, it will be easier to spread awareness about existing knowledge and resources. It can be any relevant information, not just science.

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