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Translation of Cochrane summaries: a realistic and timely goal for the Collaboration?

Date and Location




Monday 23 September 2013 - 13:30 - 15:00


Philippe Ravaud

Francois Yvon
Gabriel Rada

Abstract text
From a linguistic point of view, the world is very diverse. The largest languages by native speakers are Mandarin (14%), Spanish (6%), and English (5%). Although in many countries most educated health professionals can read texts in English, many others are not capable of doing so. If we consider the general population as potential consumer of Cochrane materials, then the proportion of people who can be reached and influenced at the moment is actually surprisingly small. Furthermore, evidence from the usage statistics of the Biblioteca Cochrane Plus (the Spanish version of The Cochrane Library) has repeatedly demonstrated that universal access to content in the local language increases usage substantially, in this case reaching more than four million users every year. Lately, the addition of French content on Cochrane Summaries has showed this effect as well: Access to Cochrane Summaries by French-speaking users has tripled from September 2012 to February 2013, and France is now ranking third among the countries most accessing Cochrane Summaries. A number of projects translating Cochrane materials have been conducted, and several small or bigger projects are currently on-going or planned. All of them have been initiated, co-ordinated, funded and published by Cochrane Centres, Review Groups or Cochrane external organisation based in non-English speaking countries, without any resources, funding or infrastructure provided by The Cochrane Collaboration centrally. The results are spread over different platforms, many of them partially outdated and difficult to track. The most comprehensive and sustained project has been conducted by the Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre over the past 15 years, but other initiatives have also been, or are still, enabling access to Cochrane content in a variety of languages: French, Japanese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, German, and Portuguese. This session will discuss this issue more deeply and debate different mechanisms to enhance translation support in Cochrane. Topics covered include: Translation of Cochrane summaries: necessary or accessory for users from developed countries, the Canadian view; Standardization of abstracts and conclusions: Potential Benefits for English-native and non-native authors and readers of Cochrane reviews; Is Automatic translation of Cochrane summaries an achievable goal?; and, Translation using networks of volunteer translators Target audience and level of expertise: Centre Directors, Co Eds, Centres staff members, stakeholders with an interest in translation