Most of us understand the importance of translations in areas such as the legal field, where a poorly translated contract could result in legal action being taken against one or both parties in the contract; or the medical field, where (for example) poorly translated dosage instructions could prove hazardous to the health of a patient. But there may much more to lose if scientific research is not accurately translated and shared with as many countries as possible.
In a recent study, researchers discovered that 35% of scientific papers written since 2014 were not published in English. Not only does this make the findings difficult to digest for Western scholars and scientists – it also makes many of these studies virtually invisible to the rest of the world. Just consider this fact: if a scientific research study isn’t translated into English, no English keywords exist, meaning that the research cannot even be located in database searches.
But it’s not just English-speaking scientists and scholars who are missing out on the valuable results of research being conducted by non-English-speaking scientists – those non-English speakers find it difficult to obtain information critical to their work because so much of it has only been published in English. As you can imagine, this problem is widespread throughout the scientific world. We may not even fully grasp just how damaging this lack of translation is for researchers around the globe, and for the people, animals and environment that could be positively or negatively impacted by the findings of research that is not accessible to everyone.
Fortunately, there is a remedy for this situation, although it may take years for the scientific community to implement it. Upon completion of their work, all researchers should immediately have their studies translated into the languages most commonly spoken within the scientific community – widely thought to include English, Spanish, Chinese, German, French, Russian and Japanese. Translators should be professional linguists with a proven track record of producing high quality translations, and should also have several years of experience specifically in scientific translation. If possible, the translator should also be a native speaker of the target language.
While this may sound like a challenge for the researchers in need of translation services, it’s really not that difficult. There are, quite literally, thousands and thousands of professional translators who are fully capable of producing high quality scientific translations. Securing their services through a reputable translation company is the easiest way to find a qualified translator. And although this may add an additional step to scientific research, the results will be an advantage not only for other researchers but the rest of us as well – the people, animals and the environment throughout the world that will benefit from the knowledge shared in all aspects of scientific research.