Citizen science is a global phenomenon. We estimate that in Europe alone there are 2 million people who have taken part in a citizen science project. However, most citizen science project websites, newsletters and instructions and most of the scientific literature is only available in English. Sometimes we can hit the Google Translate button; but would it not be even better to have more materials prepared and available in several languages?
Therefore, Doing It Together Science is seeking to build up a community of citizen science translators and helpers. Exactly what materials we choose to translate will be chosen by this community: project websites and interfaces, tutorials, instructables, policy briefs, blogs and newsletters, media articles, academic papers – whatever is voted on, and we hope many citizen scientists will request specific items and tell us their wishes.
Sadly, we do not currently have a budget to pay professional translators – there is a huge amount of material out there. Fortunately, citizen science materials need not be translated to a standard expected of legal or commercial documents, which will allow anyone relatively fluent in more than one language to participate. We expect to develop systems of fact-checking, validation (i.e. having more than one person translate each document, to minimise errors), and proofreading; so that even if you do not speak multiple languages - like me! - you can still help.
So, who are we looking for? Lots of people! If any of the following matches you, please consider signing up:
• A professional researcher in science, citizen science, modern languages or translation
• A professional researcher who is a member of ECSA
• Any organiser of a citizen science project who would like their project or its communications to be available in more languages
• Any person who has participated in a citizen science project
• Any person who works in or studies translation, or has done in the past
• Any person who speaks more than one language and is interested in science and citizen science
• Any person who works in or has worked in creating websites with translation platforms, similar to any of these
• Any person who is very interested in any of the above and would like to gain experience and help with this project, even if you are not yet sure what you can do.
If you're interested in taking part, or just following our progress, please e-mail Alice at email@example.com. (Pauline at Waag created a special e-mail - thank you! Don't worry, if you e-mailed firstname.lastname@example.org earlier, I have got that.)
The stages of our progress will be roughly as follows:
1) Alice Sheppard at UCL ExCiteS is creating a mailing list. Please e-mail us as above to indicate you'd like to be part of the Citizen Science Translation Hub. I will soon send you a short form asking about your background, interests and if you have any suggestions for this project. You do not have to fill this form in if you do not want to – it would just be extremely useful for me to know more about our collective potential. Signing up does not commit you to any action, I will not share your details with third parties without your permission and you can unsubscribe from the mailing list at any time. (I reserve the right to remove anyone from the mailing list and early community at my discretion, but would not do this lightly and do not anticipate that it will need to happen.)
2) When the mailing list contains enough people, its members will choose an online platform on which to discuss and plan specific tasks, roles and aims. This may be Basecamp, Slack, Google+, LinkedIn or any other – it will be for the new translator community as a whole to decide.
3) On this online platform, we will experiment with various translation platforms and work with existing citizen science organisations, other translation networks and news outlets about what materials should be translated and how.
4) When we are ready, we will launch a new website in which any citizen scientist can request the translation of relevant material, or sign up as a volunteer translator or helper. All translated materials will leave a space to name and thank the translator. Citizen science projects can register an interest. We plan to create a part-time position for someone – perhaps an advanced student of modern languages, for example – to coordinate this website.
We’re researching several translating platforms already, from Translators Without Borders to the Astronomy Translation Network; but, should you know of any other similar programs or websites, or if you have any other suggestions, we would be delighted if you wanted to e-mail us about this.
Part of Doing It Together Science’s agenda is wider and deeper public engagement with science. If you become a translator, you will have access to the most interesting citizen science materials, and know that your efforts will contribute to greater access to citizen science for people around the world.
We look forward to hearing from you.