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Free translation of oncology research to support authors with English as a second language

11 Dec 2018

Towards the end of a great year supporting authors and readers who often face barriers to publishing and reading cancer research, we’d like to express our gratitude to Translators Without Borders. This wonderful organisation has helped us to provide free translation to over 70 authors who submitted papers in Spanish in 2018.  These submissions are peer reviewed by Spanish speaking reviewers and, if accepted, are published in both English and Spanish in ecancermedicalscience (fully open access).

The decision to offer this service to Spanish speaking authors was mainly motivated by the need for Latin American researchers and clinicians to read and publish in their own language. Authors in this region often have to overcome substantial language barriers on the journey to publication, with a high level of English expected for submitted articles by most journals.  Being able to submit articles in their own language, and receive the peer reviewer recommendations in Spanish too, is of great benefit to ecancermedicalscience authors from Latin America.  Many authors from this region have little access to professional language support and funds to pay for open access publication fees, yet the quality of their articles is high and they are worthy of publication.  This is why the ecancer Global Foundation covers all article processing costs for authors who do not have funding for open access publication.

The Spanish language articles which the journal receives for consideration are often highly locally relevant and address regional issues which international journals sometimes ignore. ecancermedicalscience has over 30 cancer experts from Latin America on its Editorial Board, ensuring that issues which are important in the region are covered as much as possible, with multiple special issues exploring topics such as gastric cancer and cervical cancer prevention which are particularly pertinent to Latin America. 

It’s equally as important for Latin American authors to be able to read articles in Spanish – understanding the latest research is essential for informed policy making, building on the results of research and collaborating with health professionals internationally.  The majority of cancer studies are published only in English, creating global inequalities and slowing the pace of research, which in turn has a negative effect on patients worldwide. Language barriers often result in ‘lost science’ in the form of information which is either not published or simply not made accessible to all. In some circumstances, access to the latest research findings can mean the difference between morbidity and mortality.  So when an accepted article is of particular relevance to Latin American readers, ecancer publishes it in both Spanish and English.  This year, ecancermedicalscience articles have been read over 600,000 times. 

We asked our authors what this service means to them and have received some heartening feedback, with some authors saying that they would not have been able to publish at all without the free translation, publication and support from the ecancer editorial team.

Dr María Cecilia González Robledo, from the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, México, told us “The role you play in supporting countries like ours is very important, in the dissemination of the results of the research we do.  It’s well known that resources for research are quite limited and generally there are few options for publishing internationally.”  

Dr José Liders Burgos Zuleta (Advanced Medical Image Centre, La Paz, Bolivia) said “Publishing with ecancermedicalscience has benefitted patients because I have received emails from similar cases all around the world and could help them. Publishing in both English and Spanish gave my article greater impact because language is sometimes a limitation even though English is a globalised language.”  

We would not have been able to offer this service without the help of Translators Without Borders, which is a non-profit organisation set up to provide translation services for humanitarian non-profits.  Their support has been invaluable to the ecancer Global Foundation in achieving its mission of improving patient outcomes by providing free education to the global oncology community.  It has been estimated that only around 5% of the world's population has English as a first language, and we are proud of the contribution we have been able to make in opening up the results of cancer research to all. 

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