Community Consultation on Multilingual and
non-English Content in Repositories
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 3 Multilingualism is a critical characteristic of a healthy, inclusive, and diverse research communications landscape. Publishing in a local language ensures that the public in different countries has access to the research they fund, and also levels the playing field for researchers who speak different languages. The Helsinki Initiative on Multilingualism in Scholarly Communication asserts that the disqualification of local or national languages in academic publishing is the most important – and often forgotten – factor that prevents societies from using and taking advantage of the research done where they live.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 While the dominant position of a lingua franca – English – is useful for the widespread dissemination of ideas across the world, it also impedes the use of research results at the local level. And after decades of policies that have directed researchers to publish in English, we are beginning to see a reversal of this trend. The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, for example, calls on member states to encourage “multilingualism in the practice of science, in scientific publications and in academic communications”. In China, Europe, and other jurisdictions, policy makers are introducing new measures that encourage researchers to publish in local languages.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 3 Multilingualism presents a particular challenge for the discovery of research outputs. Although researchers and other information seekers may only be able to read in one or two languages, they want to know about all the relevant research in their area, regardless of the language in which it is published. Yet, discovery systems such as Google Scholar and other scholarly indexes tend to provide access prevailingly to the content available in the language of the user. In addition, the language of a scholarly resource is often not labelled appropriately, meaning a large portion of non-English resources are excluded from search results. Furthermore, many scholarly communications infrastructures are sub-optimal in their support for a variety of languages since little attention was paid to this issue during their design process.
In August 2022, COAR launched the COAR Task Force on Supporting Multilingualism and non-English Content in Repositories to develop and promote good practices for repositories in managing multilingual and non-English content. This document presents the results of the task force work focusing on identifying good practices for metadata, multilingual keywords, user interfaces, translations, formats, licenses, and indexing that will improve the visibility and discovery of repository content in a variety of languages along with implementation guidance for the repository community.
Implementing multilingual support requires a joint effort of repository managers and aggregators, researchers and software/tools developers to ensure smooth implementation.
We’ve identified three broad areas: enhancing discoverability of non-English content; curating multilingual content in a repository and promoting language diversity and supporting translations in the use cases analyzed. 17 use cases from the perspective of repository managers and users, authors and translators, aggregators and discovery systems are driving the recommended practices and are available in Appendix 1.