Sat 2 Jun 2018 4:12PM


VV Victor Venema Public Seen by 60

The UK MetOffice translated old German language ocean science papers for their employees and now kindly put them on their homepage.

Last week I was at a conference in South America with simultaneous translations English-Spanish. This was really necessary. For me to understand the talks in Spanish. For many South American participants to understand the English talks. A colleague from Argentina told me that she makes translations and spreads them to her colleagues.

I think it would be valuable to have a repository for such translations to spread them more widely (if legally allowed; another plus for Open Access publishing). An good start would be to allow them to be uploaded to EarthArXiv. What do you think?


Dasapta Erwin Irawan Sat 2 Jun 2018 11:31PM

I agree with you. Yes we should let more languages to be uploaded to repositories or preprint servers. What I've been suggesting to Indonesian authors and journal managers is to write their full papers in Indonesian and make the presentation slides in English. Both files should be available at the same place.


Victor Venema Sun 3 Jun 2018 4:22PM

Interesting to learn (on Twitter) that in Indonesia many universities have an Open Access journal. If a large part of the Indonesian literature is Open Access that would also mean we are allowed to publish translations.

In the end we would need a system where these translations are all on one page together with a link to the original. But we can start with putting them in a normal repository and see whether the market is large enough. It would be easy to add a link to a translation on the assessment page of grassroots scientific journals.

I just tried a Twitter poll to see if people are interested. Optimistically 66% is interested, while only 33% thinks it is too much work. Pessimistically, only 1% of the people who read the tweet were interested. But I guess nearly all my followers are from Anglo-America, so they would mostly be the people who do not need it.

In case of climate science I could also imagine that non-scientists would be willing to translate and help the science forward and help the global South access the literature easier and protect themselves for the consequences of climate change.


James King Tue 5 Jun 2018 1:20PM

My viewpoint from being in a bilingual country and in a University that only instructs in the lesser (by population) language, there is a perception that students/academics are able in English and French, but it is the public that is not, so for the majority this is seen as not a requirement. So for the majority of the grad students they write there thesis in French except for the papers that are going to/have submit/ted to journals.

But I can imagine for other countries where one of the main languages is not English this can be very difficult. However, being anglophone and knowing the painful procedure of translating, it takes so much time to translate documents well. I guess if the work load is only the author submitting it would be fine, but in this case there might be a very low level of interest.


Allison Enright Tue 5 Jun 2018 3:05PM

The Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences accepts articles in both English and French, and authors either write their abstract in both languages or the journal will translate the abstract. Perhaps that model might work here? Translating an abstract is shorter than the whole paper, and if someone can't read the paper they could reach out to the authors.


Victor Venema Tue 5 Jun 2018 4:48PM

It is funny that I bring up this topic here. At the FORCE11 conference I was the one doubting that it would pay to have the Open Science MOOC translated in other languages and was virtually booed out of the session. :-) I was thinking that if you do not know English you cannot really participate in science. However, the conference I was at last week had many participants that do need the literature, but have a hard time reading English.

Meteorology and climatology may be special fields where many people are working in more development type of jobs and do not contribute to the scientific literature (much), but do have to be up to date with the literature. I guess this does not happen much in high energy physics, but I could imagine that in other applied sciences there are similar users of the literature.

A translation of the abstract would already be a great help at little cost, also to make articles better discoverable.


Poll Created Tue 5 Jun 2018 5:24PM

Where to host translations Closed Fri 8 Jun 2018 5:04PM

Let's use a poll to see where the community stands on translations and how they should be spread on the internet.

Would they be welcome on EarthArXiv or should they go in the general unmoderated feed of the OSF (would still show up when people use our search bar). Or is this nothing for repositories and should someone else developed a dedicated homepage. Or is this all a waste of resources.


Results Option Rank % of points Points Mean
Open Science Foundation 1 39.7% 25 1.5
EarthArXiv 2 33.3% 21 1.6
Some other dedicated platform 3 20.6% 13 1.4
No need to do this 4 6.3% 4 1.3
Undecided 0% 0 0

21 of 82 people have voted (25%)


Ivanka Mitrovic Wed 6 Jun 2018 6:58AM

3 - Open Science Foundation
4 - EarthArXiv

I have had situations where (western) scientist would present their work at a conference and make a claim about something not being done in the area of the study (Eastern Europe), but i knew for sure it had been..in the local language.


Anson Thu 7 Jun 2018 12:44PM

3 - EarthArXiv
4 - Open Science Foundation

I voted for EarthArXiv as this may be a route to lessen bias against non-English publications.


Sabine Lengger Fri 8 Jun 2018 10:25AM

3 - Some other dedicated platform
4 - No need to do this

I think this would be out of scope for EarthArXiv - it would be hard to check accuracy of translations, for example. Maybe this is easier to tackle by setting up a network of national initiatives?


[deactivated account] Tue 5 Jun 2018 8:55PM

I have had a translation issue with a recent paper. I had to fight to get the abstract published in Japanese alongside the English version. Luckily the journal is accepting the translation after I had it confirmed as a true translation by two Japanese academics. Having EarthArXiv available to publish translations would be an easier option. And it’s open!


Victor Venema Tue 5 Jun 2018 9:01PM

Interesting how many would prefer to have translations hosted elsewhere. I would be curious to know why. (You do not have to upload or read these translations yourself.)


Christopher Jackson Wed 6 Jun 2018 7:48AM

I guess my gut-feeling is that, at this early stage, to get adoption from as broad a church as possible, we need to focus on what most folks think are the core research materials, that is manuscripts and associated data.


Ivanka Mitrovic Wed 6 Jun 2018 7:04AM

I would encourage everyone to have at least an abstract in another language...preferebaly the language of your field area, or something relevant. Translating whole paper is way too much work. As i mentioned in the poll comment:
I have had situations where (western) scientist would present their work at a conference (AGU, GSA, EGU) and make a claim about something not being done in the area of the study (Eastern Europe), but i knew for sure it had been..in the local language.
So, yes, we do need some sort of translations.


Victor Venema Fri 8 Jun 2018 5:33PM

The result is about 50/50 between hosting translations on the moderated EarthArXiv or on the unmoderated OSF feed. Both are okay solutions.

However, before we transfer the question to the Advisory Council I would love to understand better why people have reservations about hosting them at EarthArXiv. That would be useful information for my grassroots journals and also for people who may set up a dedicated global FAIR database for translations.

That we cannot check the translation is a good argument, but we are only supposed to check whether something is a serious contribution, not whether the quality is high enough. For the former in most cases Google Translate & Co. would be sufficient and people will warn us if someone tries to game the system.

(By the way, it may be nice to have a button on the page with the pre-prints where readers can flag the manuscript/attend the moderators to any issues.)

I am not sure whether non-English speakers would agree that translations are not core research materials. Even if we do not see translations as part of our core business, we do not have to change our software/methods to accommodate them and I do not expect that there are people who would say: I would have uploaded my manuscript to EarthArXiv if only those globalists did not host translations as well.

Looking forward to a discussion on these two points and further arguments for and against hosting translations so that the Advisory Council can make an informed decision and people interested in translations can make a good system.

(Anonymous comments can be made below my last blog post.)


Victor Venema Sat 9 Jun 2018 5:02PM

If we make it a real ranked vote the result is clearer in favour of the OSF; 10 favour OSF, 8 EarthArXiv. If we each time shift the people with the least favoured option to their second open, that is.

Round 1
8 EarthArXiv
8 Open Science Foundation
5 Some other dedicated platform
2 No need to do this
23 Total

“No need to do this” removed

Round 2
8 EarthArXiv
8 Open Science Foundation
7 Some other dedicated platform
0 No need to do this

“Some other dedicated platform” removed

Round 3
8 EarthArXiv
10 Open Science Foundation
0 Some other dedicated platform
0 No need to do this
18 Total


Christopher Jackson Wed 13 Jun 2018 3:02AM

Proportional representation? I think I remember this from a referendum in the UK a few years back...More seriously, thanks Victor for leading this discussion. I guess the upshot is that the broader community, or at least 23 folks, feel that OSF should host these material somewhere and in some way, but not on EarthArXiv. Correct? In any case, I've made my argument for this solution, so I guess we should give others a few more days before we revert to the Advisory Group.