Publications

Peer-reviewed papers

By investigating the use of scientific literature in biodiversity assessment reports across 37 countries/territories, we have uncovered the established role of non-English-language literature as a major source of information locally.

This study reviewed studies on butterfly migration published in six languages (English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish) and found 345 non-English-language studies, compared to 581 English-language studies, mostly on species in South America and Asia, where English-language studies were scarce.

This paper showed that a surprisingly large number of languages are spoken within the distribution of bird species; over 1,500 bird species have 10 or more languages spoken within their distributions. Threatened and migratory species have especially many languages within their ranges, demonstraging the importance of overcoming language barriers in species conservation.

It is often assumed that non-English-language literature is diminishing, as science is becoming increasingly globalised. In this paper we show that the number of conservation articles published per year is actually increasing in many languages, at a rate similar to English articles.

Can we keep ignoring non-English-language science? We found 1,234 papers in 16 languages that test what works in conservation. Including them will boost evidence availability in conservation into 12-25% more areas and 5-32% more species.

A new One Earth paper found that despite the involvement of linguistically-diverse experts in IPBES assessments, references cited were predominantly in English and comments from Anglophone reviewers were also overrepresented in those assessment reports.

A perspective article recently published in Nature Ecology & Evolution (Haddaway et al 2020) nicely reviews various problems with ecological literature reviews and provides methodological solutions to address those problems. Nevertheless, we found that a key issue was not covered by the perspective article - the need to search and analyse literature published in languages other than English.

By reanalysing existing meta-analyses including both English- and Japanese-language studies, we show that effect sizes differ significantly between English- and Japanese-language studies, causing considerable changes in overall mean effect sizes and even their direction when Japanese-language studies are excluded (see figure below).

In this paper we found that the availability of data stored in biodiversity databases is highly geographically biased (see figure below), and the proportion of English speakers in each country partly explains the distribution, with a fewer records per area stored for countries where English is not widely spoken.

Media coverage / popular articles

  1. What to do when language impedes science. Chemical & Engineering News (2023).
  2. How ChatGPT and other AI tools could disrupt scientific publishing. News article in Nature (2023).
  3. English is the common language of science. That comes at a cost for scientists and the planet. ABC (2023).
  4. Scientists who don’t speak fluent English get little help from journals, study finds. News article in Nature (2023).
  5. The true cost of science’s language barrier for non-native English speakers. News article in Nature (2023).
  6. For nonnative English speakers, scientific careers bring particular challenges. Careers article in Science (2023).
  7. Non-native English speaking scientists work much harder just to keep up, global research reveals. The Conversation (2023).
  8. Non-English-speaking scientists work harder! Post on Instagram by The Conversation Australia + NZ (2023).
  9. English may be science’s native language, but it’s not native to all scientists. Scientific American (2023).
  10. Non-native English speaking scientists at ‘profound disadvantage’Times Higher Education (2023).
  11. Hacer ciencia en inglés tiene un alto coste para los hablantes no nativos: “Tienes 12 veces más barreras” (in Spanish). elDiario.es (2023).
  12. Desventajas de científicos no angloparlantes e indígenas (in Spanish). SciDev.Net (Latin American and Caribbean edition) (2023).
  13. Les chercheurs non anglophones fortement désavantagés dans les publications scientifiques (in French). Le Monde (2023).
  14. 英語で科学研究、つらい 論文に時間、国際学会を敬遠 (in Japanese). Kyodo News (2023).
  15. 英語の壁を超える責任は、あなた一人で負わなくていい【前編】【後編】 editage blog (2023)
  16. Interview (from 2:04:32) at ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) radio Tasmania Afternoons with Joel Rheinberger (2023).
  17. Language barriers in conservation research could be hurting biodiversity efforts. What can be done about it? Ensia (2022)
  18. Lost in translation: is research into species being missed because of a language barrier? The Guardian (2022)
  19. Non-English studies can fill conservation gaps. The Wildlife Society (2022).
  20. The English language dominates global conservation science – which leaves 1 in 3 research papers virtually ignored. The Conversation (2021).
  21. Searching English publications only ‘misses vital research’. Times Higher Education (2021).
  22. Bridging language barriers could improve efforts to protect Earth’s biodiversity. UPI (2021).
  23. The science that isn’t seen because it’s not in English. Axios (2021).
  24. Linguistic diversity could help save biodiversity. Cosmos (2021).
  25. Biodiversity studies overlook non-English research, says Australian scientist. Xinhua (2021).
  26. Conservation research is being ignored because it is not in English. Brisbane Times (2021).
  27. The untapped side of science that could boost evidence-based conservation. Conservation Evidence blog (2021).
  28. La ciencia no solo se comparte en inglés: la conservación habla todas las lenguas (in Spanish). The Conversation ES (2021).
  29. Nicht immer nur Englisch: Wie Wissen verloren geht und Sprachen sterben (in German). Deutsche Welle (2021).
  30. Vielfalt schützt Vielfalt (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2021).
  31. IPN promueve la pluralidad lingüística en pro de la biodiversidad (in Spanish). Excélsior (2021).
  32. IPN contribuye en investigación que promueve pluralidad lingüística (in Spanish). Once (2021).
  33. Angielski dominuje w naukach o ochronie przyrody. Przez to jedna trzecia prac naukowych zostaje niezauważona (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza (2021).
  34. Science’s English dominance hinders diversity—but the community can work toward change. Careers article in Science (2020).
  35. Global syntheses of biodiversity require community-driven approaches to reduce bias. Our eLetter in response to a meta-analysis of insect declines published in Science (2020).
  36. When English is not your mother tongue. Career Feature in Nature (2019).
  37. The giant shoulders of English. Coverage by the Economist (2017).
  38. Cambridge zoologist says international science is overly fixated on using English. Coverage by Cambridge Independent (2017).

Presentation

  1. One-way mirror in the room: how language barriers impede conservation. (2023) The Linnean Society of London lunchtime lecture.
  2. Non-English-speaking scientists work harder! (2023) Post on Instagram by The Conversation Australia + NZ.

  3. Language barriers in conservation science: consequences and solutions. (2023) Helsinki Initiative webinar on multilingualism in scholarly communication.
  4. Transcending language barriers – reconnecting evidence and people for conservation. (2022) Keynote presentation at the 2022 Joint Conference of the Ecological Society of Australia and the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania, Wollongong, NSW.
    Recording available here (from 48:48)
  5. Why language matters in conservation. (2022) The ARI seminar series. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research.
  6. Language barriers in conservation and science. (2022) Ecology and Conservation lab seminar. Monash University.
  7. Why language matters in conservation. (2021) The 29th Philippine Biodiversity Symposium Virtual Meeting. The Biodiversity Conservation Society of the Philippines.
  8. Sharing and using evidence on conservation in a multilingual world. (2021) Major Topics in International Bird Conservation Webinar Series. The Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute and Taiwan Wild Bird Federation.
  9. Overcoming language barriers in science. (2021) Keynote presentation at the Bioconductor Virtual Conference Asia 2021.
  10. Why language matters in ecology and conservation. (2021) iDiv seminar, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv).
  11. Language barriers in conservation and science. (2021) Lab seminar. The Invasion Science & Wildlife Ecology Group, University of Adelaide.
  12. Panelist for roundtable “Language bias as a barrier in ecological sciences: challenges and solutions toward a truly inclusive community” (2021). The 2021 Ecological Society of America annual meeting.
  13. Overcoming language barriers to academic publishing. (2021) UQ Mentoring and Diversity in Biology Workshop, The University of Queensland.
  14. Panelist for workshop “Decolonizing evolution: A conversation about how language barriers affect science and what to do about it” (2021). Virtual Evolution 2021.
  15. Why language matters in conservation and what you can do. (2021) AER Live, The Applied Ecology Resources.
  16. The translatE project: our aims and progress so far in overcoming language barriers in conservation science. (2021) CBCS Tuesday seminar. Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland.
  17. Is non-English-language literature important in science? (2020) Keynote presentation at the 2nd annual meeting of the Association for Interdisciplinary Meta-research and Open Science (AIMOS). Presentation slides available here.
  18. Flying over the Tower of Babel: Implications of language barriers on shorebird conservation. (2020) Keynote presentation at the International Shorebird Twitter Conference 2020 (#ISTC20).

  19. How to overcome language barriers in science. (2020) eLife #ECRWednesday Webinar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW7eNQp2Gkc
  20. Ignoring non-English language literature may bias ecological meta-analyses. (2019) Ecological Society of Australia 2019 annual conference, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.