Lack of non-English languages in STEM publications hurts diversity

Read the full story from Northwestern University.

With today’s existing translation tools to overcome language barriers, global collaboration should be no major feat for researchers. Yet throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, articles published in Chinese journals focusing on critical aspects of the disease were often never cited by English journals. As a result, U.S. academics wasted precious time performing research thereby replicating already published results.

Researchers cannot simply push papers through simple translation tools and turn out legible multilingual science. And, in the absence of human translators trained in technical subject matter readily available, most researchers choose to publish science, technology engineering and math (STEM) research in the dominant English language.

Now a team of graduate students at Northwestern University aims to change that.

In a paper published today (Aug. 31) titled “A Call to Diversify the Lingua Franca of Academic STEM Communities” in the Journal of Science Policy & Governance, members of Northwestern’s Science Policy Outreach Taskforce (SPOT) call for new government policy measures to create a path to linguistic diversity in STEM publications.

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