How to end the hegemony of English in scientific research | USA | EL PAÍS in English

“last year 84% of researchers from Ibero-American countries – where Spanish or Portuguese is spoken – published their own work in English instead of their native tongues.

“Only 13% of scientists in Spain presented their work in Spanish, followed by 12% of those in Mexico, 16% in Chile, and around 20% in Argentina, Colombia and Peru,” reads the report….

German, French and Russian, which were once commonly used in various scientific publications, are now in a similar predicament: under 1% of all papers, reviews or academic conferences that appeared in scientific journals in 2020 were written in those languages….

The situation has to do not just with science, but with geopolitics, he adds. “Ibero-American countries have fallen into the trap of Anglo private industries,” said Badillo. “States pay scientists to investigate; we produce the knowledge, give it away to the big journals, thereby donating the findings of our work, and then these publications charge a truly astounding amount to the national science systems in order to access the results of our own investigations.” Ultimately, most citizens are unable to access the science that they are funding with their taxes, because it is only available in publications that charge for reading content that is written in a different language anyway….

There are three reasons for this “dictatorship of English,” as the authors of the study called it….

The third reason is tied to, and determines, the other two. “There are two major international companies, Elsevier and Clarivate Analytics, that have privatized the evaluation systems for the quality of science; they produce the international indexes listing the impact factor of journals that have been favoring English for decades,” said Badillo….

The consequences are numerous. One of them is limited access to knowledge because of the language barrier….


The answer proposed by the OEI and the Real Instituto Elcano is to move towards open science, a movement to make scientific research and dissemination – including publications and databases – free and accessible to all citizens. “Science needs to get out of the ivory tower where it has been bureaucratized for years, and enter into greater dialogue with society,” insisted Badillo, pointing to tools that could help with the change of paradigm. “Artificial intelligence and automatic translation should help us guarantee access to science. It would be ideal to see, in the short run, an option to read the contents of each scientific article translated not just into Spanish or Portuguese but Korean, Mandarin or any other language.” ”

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