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Languages Are Still a Major Barrier to Global Science


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While it is recognized that language can pose a barrier to the transfer of scientific knowledge, the convergence on English as the global language of science may suggest that this problem has been resolved. However, our survey searching Google Scholar in 16 languages revealed that 35.6% of 75,513 scientific documents on biodiversity conservation published in 2014 were not in English. Ignoring such non-English knowledge can cause biases in our understanding of study systems. Furthermore, as publication in English has become prevalent, scientific knowledge is often unavailable in local languages. This hinders its use by field practitioners and policy makers for local environmental issues; 54% of protected area directors in Spain identified languages as a barrier. We urge scientific communities to make a more concerted effort to tackle this problem and propose potential approaches both for compiling non-English scientific knowledge effectively and for enhancing the multilingualization of new and existing knowledge available only in English for the users of such knowledge.
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Languages Are Still a Major Barrier to Global
Tatsuya Amano
*, Juan P. Gonza
, William J. Sutherland
1Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United
Kingdom, 2Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
While it is recognized that language can pose a barrier to the transfer of scientific knowl-
edge, the convergence on English as the global language of science may suggest that this
problem has been resolved. However, our survey searching Google Scholar in 16 lan-
guages revealed that 35.6% of 75,513 scientific documents on biodiversity conservation
published in 2014 were not in English. Ignoring such non-English knowledge can cause
biases in our understanding of study systems. Furthermore, as publication in English
has become prevalent, scientific knowledge is often unavailable in local languages. This hin-
ders its use by field practitioners and policy makers for local environmental issues; 54% of
protected area directors in Spain identified languages as a barrier. We urge scientific com-
munities to make a more concerted effort to tackle this problem and propose potential
approaches both for compiling non-English scientific knowledge effectively and for enhanc-
ing the multilingualization of new and existing knowledge available only in English for the
users of such knowledge.
English is obviously the language that currently dominates global scientific activities as a lingua
franca [1]. Locally, however, many scientists and users of scientific information, such as policy
makers, communicate on a daily basis in languages other than English, which inevitably cre-
ates barriers to the transfer of knowledge between communities [2,3]. However, the magni-
tude of this problem is not well quantified, and the consequences and solutions deserve further
exploration. Language barriers may be a particularly serious problem in subjects in which local
knowledge is especially important, such as environmental sciences required for biodiversity
conservation [4]. Languages can seriously limit the transfer of knowledge in environmental
sciences in two directions: when compiling scientific knowledge—for example, in global
assessments, such as those by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem
Services (IPBES)—and when applying knowledge to local environmental issues, often tackled
by field practitioners and local policy makers. Focusing on environmental sciences as an exam-
ple, we here investigate the potential extent and consequences of language barriers in the two
directions and propose solutions for reducing this potentially overlooked problem.
PLOS Biology | DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000933 December 29, 2016 1 / 8
Citation: Amano T, Gonza
´lez-Varo JP, Sutherland
WJ (2016) Languages Are Still a Major Barrier to
Global Science. PLoS Biol 14(12): e2000933.
Published: December 29, 2016
Copyright: ©2016 Amano et al. This is an open
access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original
author and source are credited.
Funding: European Commission’s Marie Curie
International Incoming Fellowship Programme
(grant number PIIF-GA-2011-303221). Received
by TA. The funder had no role in study design, data
collection and analysis, decision to publish, or
preparation of the manuscript. European
Commission’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions
(grant number H2020-MSCA-IF-2014- 656572).
Received by JPGV. The funder had no role in study
design, data collection and analysis, decision to
publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Isaac
Newton Trust (grant number 15.23(s)). Received
by TA and WJS. The funder had no role in study
design, data collection and analysis, decision to
publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Arcadia
Fund. Received by WJS. The funder had no role in
study design, data collection and analysis, decision
to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the
Environment. Received by TA. The funder had no
Language barriers can cause gaps in information availability during the global compilation
of scientific knowledge, as scientific information is available not only in English but also in
many other languages. We tried to estimate the number of conservation-related scientific doc-
uments published in the world’s major languages. Searching for scientific documents pub-
lished in 2014 with two keywords, “biodiversity” and “conservation”, in 16 languages on
Google Scholar generated 75,513 manuscripts, of which English was by far the most frequently
used language (48,600 scientific documents, 64.4%), followed by Spanish (9,520), Portuguese
(7,800), simplified Chinese (4,540), and French (2,290) (Fig 1). The other 11 languages sur-
veyed were used in a total of 2,763 documents (see S1 Table for more detail). By further investi-
gating 95 sample documents from those obtained using Spanish terms (the sample size was
validated by the “sample.size.prop” function in R package “samplingbook”, assuming the
expected proportion was P = 0.48 [i.e., the actual proportion of Spanish-only documents], a
finite small population correction of N = 9,520, precision e = 0.1, and confidence level = 0.95),
we confirmed that all but one document was indeed written in Spanish. Furthermore, 46 (48%
of the 95) of these documents provided neither the title nor the abstract in English (Fig 2A).
The result was similar when we investigated 80 sample documents from those obtained using
Japanese terms (the sample size was determined in the same way but with N = 474); 35% of
those documents provided neither the title nor the abstract in English (Fig 3A). Assuming sim-
ilar proportions apply to other languages, these results suggest: (1) most of the 35.6% scientific
documents written in a non-English language cannot be understood fully without the relevant
non-English language skills, and (2) up to half of the non-English scientific documents are, in
theory, unsearchable using English keywords. Moreover, having English titles and abstracts
may not suffice; of the 6 peer-reviewed papers published in Japanese by the first author of this
paper (all with an English title and 3 also with an English abstract), 4 were not searchable using
their English titles on Google Scholar, nor were two searchable on Web of Science. All 6, how-
ever, appeared on Google Scholar when searched using their Japanese titles. Google Scholar
searches can include “grey literature” (usually not peer-reviewed). However, of the 46 Spanish
documents with neither an English title nor an English abstract, over half (26) were journal
articles, books, or theses (Fig 2B) and thus are expected to have scientific credibility. Similarly,
43% (12) of the 28 Japanese documents with neither an English title nor an English abstract
were journal articles (Fig 3B). This proportion was higher in those documents with an English
title and/or an English abstract in both languages (Figs 2C and 3C). While some of these non-
English journals might not necessarily be committed to publishing papers of reasonable quality
[5], there are also well-established journals that regularly publish a non-negligible number of
Fig 1. Waffle plot of the number of scientific documents in 2014 alone based on a search with twokeywords—“biodiversity” and
“conservation”—in 16 major languages on Google Scholar. Each square represents 50 documents. The flags merely represent the
language of each document, not where the work originated. See S1 Table for more detail.
PLOS Biology | DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000933 December 29, 2016 2 / 8
role in study design, data collection and analysis,
decision to publish, or preparation of the
Competing Interests: The authors have declared
that no competing interests exist.
Abbreviations: IPBES, Intergovernmental Platform
on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
Provenance: Not commissioned; externally peer
peer-reviewed papers on biodiversity conservation in non-English languages (see examples in
S1 Table). The same is true for scientific data: global (i.e., English-based) biodiversity databases
store fewer data from countries with fewer English speakers [6], but this could be partly
because data from those countries are not necessarily available in English. For example, over 4
million records on species occurrence and abundance, including over 1 million based on mon-
itoring surveys organized by the Ministry of the Environment in Japan, are available online
( but currently only in Japanese.
In fact, the consequences of ignoring non-English science may be more serious than merely
lacking access to 36% of existing information; it can cause biases and gaps in our understand-
ing of the global environment. One potential bias in systematic reviews of English-language
journals is the over-representation of positive and/or statistically significant results [7], as they
are more likely to be published in high-impact English journals. Another type of bias, of partic-
ular relevance to environmental sciences, is that information on species, habitats, ecosystems,
and phenomena that are specific to countries where English is not the mother tongue can be
Fig 2. Waffle plots of (A) the use of an English title and an English abstract in 94 scientific documents written in Spanish (sampled from the
9,520 documents searched in Fig 1); document types of (B) the 46 documents with neither an English title nor an English abstract and (C)
those with an English title and/or an English abstract. Each square represents one document.
PLOS Biology | DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000933 December 29, 2016 3 / 8
overlooked when searched only in English, as also reported in medical sciences [5]. As an
example, the latest estimates of population status in Taiwan for fairy pittas (Pitta nympha), a
bird species of conservation concern, are available only in traditional Chinese (http://www. and not used in the global assess-
ment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (Chie-Jen Ko, personal commu-
nications). Similarly, important papers reporting the infection of pigs with avian influenza
viruses in China initially went unnoticed by international communities, including the World
Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, because
they were published in Chinese-language journals [8]. Also, there is a recognized knowledge
gap about the effects on biodiversity of some crops, such as soybeans, sorghum, and cotton [9],
Fig 3. Waffle plots of (A) the use of an English title and an English abstract in 80 scientific documents written in Japanese (sampled from the
474 documents searched in Fig 1); document types of (B) the 28 documents with neither an English title nor an English abstract and (C) those
with an English title and/or an English abstract. Each square represents one document.
PLOS Biology | DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000933 December 29, 2016 4 / 8
but considering that these crops are grown over large areas in South America and China, sci-
entific literature on these crops may exist in the local languages of these regions. Finally, scien-
tific knowledge generated by those undertaking conservation activities in the field (field
practitioners) could also be under-represented in English, as field practitioners often find it a
challenge to have their work published in academic journals [4], particularly in English if they
are non-native English speakers [10]. This potentially renders local and indigenous knowledge
unavailable in English. For example, Wetlands International Argentina has produced over 20
technical publications on the conservation and management of wetlands over the past 20
years, but only 2 are available in English (Daniel E. Blanco, personal communications). Their
non-English publications include a report on the roles of peatlands, a wetland type of potential
global importance, in mitigating climate change impacts (
Turberas/Factbook%20Turberas%20de%20TdF%202010.pdf). Such knowledge generated by
practitioners is often overlooked as grey literature but forms a vital part of the evidence base
[10]. For instance, the IPBES has recently shown that local and indigenous knowledge is a key
to understanding the conservation of ecosystem services by pollinators (
Another consequence of language barriers that is becoming increasingly important operates
in the opposite direction: much scientific knowledge is now unavailable in local languages, as
publication in English has become prevalent. A factor behind this is that even scientists whose
mother tongue is not English aim to produce papers in English for publication in high-impact
journals given the clear advantages for their careers [11]. Furthermore, many journals, previ-
ously published in local languages, are now publishing mainly in English to increase their
impacts on scientific communities globally (e.g., Animal Biodiversity and Conservation in
Spain, Natureza & Conservação in Brazil). As a consequence, there exists an imbalance in
knowledge transfer in countries where English is not the mother tongue; much scientific
knowledge that has originated there and elsewhere is available only in English and not in their
local languages.
The increase in the proportion of conservation-related papers published in English has
helped global English-speaking communities access a broader range of information but, at the
same time, potentially raised the barrier for local practitioners and policy makers whose
mother tongue is not English. Leaving this problem unresolved is untenable if we consider that
areas experiencing a rapid loss of biodiversity and thus in the greatest need of information,
education, and conservation practices are often places where English is not spoken widely
[12]. The last decade has seen an explosion of papers urging conservation communities to
tackle research-implementation gaps (e.g., [13]), but language barriers can further widen these
gaps. Conservation science needs to deliver local-level, species-specific evidence to on-site
practitioners and policy makers, but many practitioners often find language a barrier when
accessing primary scientific information [4,11]. For example, our survey with 44 national and
regional protected areas in Spain revealed that 54% of the directors (13 out of the 24 who
responded to our survey) identified languages as a barrier to the use of scientific papers as an
information source for management. Thus, although the extent of such language barriers
should vary among countries and individuals, depending on their proficiency in English, sim-
ply providing scientific knowledge in easily understandable and accessible ways, but in
English, might not make a difference for many practitioners and policy makers.
Transcending language barriers requires societal, institutional, and individual-level
changes. We should not assume that all important information is available in English. When
conducting systematic reviews or developing databases at a global scale, one simple, yet rarely
adopted, solution would be to include in the discussion speakers of a wide range of languages
(e.g., at least Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and French, which, in theory, altogether cover the
PLOS Biology | DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000933 December 29, 2016 5 / 8
vast majority of non-English scientific documents; Fig 1). Particularly in influential global
assessments, like those by the IPBES, scientific literature published in non-English languages
should be equally considered and, if appropriate, included. We obviously need to ensure the
quality of literature to be included in such assessments; involving native speaker(s) of each lan-
guage would also facilitate this process. To this end, the website is
establishing an international panel to extract non-English language papers on conservation
interventions. In situations in which this approach is impractical, the use of non-English
search terms would help identify relevant non-English literature, although it is still not a com-
mon practice. We also suggest developing a database of major non-English journals in the dis-
cipline (a partial list is shown in S1 Table for conservation science). Such a database can be
accompanied by the registration of investigators working on a particular topic so that even
nonindexed works can be shared, as suggested and implemented in medical sciences [5,14],
and relevant papers can be disseminated in English via, for example, Social Network Services.
Authors of non-English language papers could also try to increase the visibility of their papers
by uploading preprints or postprints with the titles and abstracts in English on well-recognized
online repositories (see below).
A key to facilitating the application of scientific knowledge expressed in English to local
environmental issues is multilingualization of the knowledge. While English plays a crucial
role in the current publishing systems by centralizing scientific knowledge, we also need a sys-
tem for effectively redistributing the compiled knowledge to its users. We propose that all
authors be requested to provide lay summaries when publishing their papers in relevant con-
servation journals. The journals could then provide translations of those summaries in multi-
ple languages. This would dramatically increase accessibility to scientific knowledge for
practitioners and policy makers, as knowledge is provided regularly at a specific location(s) in
an easily understandable way. It would be even more influential if major journals in the subject
area could establish a common website. Translation costs could be covered by either journals
or authors depending on funding availability, in the same way that several open access journals
offer full or partial waivers to overcome any financial barriers to publication. Another, though
less influential, approach is to encourage individual researchers to provide translations of their
papers, for example, as supporting information of the original English papers (PLOS journals
and Conservation Biology allow this [15,16]; see S1S5 Abstracts for the lay summary of this
paper in Spanish, Portuguese, French, simplified Chinese, and Japanese) or through self-
archiving on institutional or other repositories under appropriate copyright conditions. For
instance, submissions in multiple languages and translations of previously published work are
accepted in arXiv (,, fig-
share (confirmed on 23 February 2016), and PeerJ (confirmed on 15 March 2016). For the
translation of scientific books, a successful business model has already been proposed [12],
which could be adopted widely.
While outreach activities have recently been advocated in science, it is still rare for such
activities to involve communication across language barriers. Institutions could give credit to
efforts by researchers to translate their findings into local languages in a similar way to how
other outreach activities are evaluated, particularly if the research covers issues at the global
scale or regions where English is not the mother tongue. Funding bodies and societies can
encourage researchers to use their funding for multilingualization; plans to overcome language
barriers, where appropriate, can be a criterion for evaluating outreach activities in grant pro-
posals (e.g., the British Ecological Society’s Outreach Grants and the National Science Founda-
tion’s Broader Impacts Review Criterion). As facilitating the translation of English knowledge
to a local language can benefit the local community, this could also attract the attention of
local funders [12].
PLOS Biology | DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000933 December 29, 2016 6 / 8
Language barriers continue to impede the global compilation and application of scientific
knowledge. Overcoming this problem is not an easy challenge, but when achieved should have
far-reaching benefits to both scientists and users of scientific information in tackling global
environmental changes and solving local environmental issues. We believe the approaches
described here offer potential practical solutions.
Supporting Information
S1 Table. Number of scientific documents in 16 languages.
S1 Abstract. Alternative Language Abstract in Spanish.
S2 Abstract. Alternative Language Abstract in Portuguese.
S3 Abstract. Alternative Language Abstract in French.
S4 Abstract. Alternative Language Abstract in simplified Chinese.
S5 Abstract. Alternative Language Abstract in Japanese.
Thanks to our colleagues for their advice on publications in local languages and opinions on
language barriers: J. M. Ochoa-Quintero (Spanish and Portuguese), V. Zamora-Gutierrez, D.
E. Blanco (Spanish), I. Catry (Portugese), M. Chen (simplified Chinese), J.-L. Martin, M. Som-
veille, A.-S. Bonnet-Lebrun (French), A. Basset, I. Rosati, N. Baccetti (Italian), J. Schleicher
(German and French), S. Lee and H. Park (Korean), L. Svensson (Swedish), C.-J. Ko (tradi-
tional Chinese), H. Ambarli (Turkish), P. Skorka (Polish), E. Nourani (Persian), I. Khorozyan
(Russian), and S. Duijns (Dutch). We also thank the protected area directors in Spain who
responded to our survey and M. Amano for all the support.
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... The second variable was whether an atlas was published in English because language has been identified as a major barrier to the application of scientific knowledge in a complex way. The convergence on English as the lingua franca for global scientific activities means that, in general, information published in English is available to larger groups of users around the world, but, as a consequence, other languages are not equally published and information most relevant to conservation is less accessible to field practitioners and policy makers where English is not used in daily communication (Amano et al. 2016). Due to this barrier to the publication, visibility, and use of non-English science, we therefore predicted that atlases published in English would have a positive relationship with research impact in comparison to atlases not published in, or translated to, English. ...
... Third, an unexpected result was that English as a publication language for atlases was a negative predictor for research impact (Figure 3(d) and Table 6), given that English is considered the common mode of international scientific communication and language is often credited as a significant barrier to the transfer of scientific knowledge (Amano et al. 2016). It is also of interest that only 38% of atlases in our database could be shown to have been published in English or translated into English alongside another primary language. ...
... (Mariano et al., 2021), the Andes (Báez et al., 2022) and the Azores (Borges et al., 2010) have built openaccess trait datasets for an impressive number of taxa by compiling both published and unpublished datasets. This regional approach also addresses some of the intrinsic barriers that have contributed to the persistence of gaps in biodiversity data: language and professional networks (Amano et al., 2016;Ivanova & Shashkov, 2017). ...
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... 2 Therefore, the abstract is usually published in the English language to create an impact by reaching a larger audience. 5 Well-reported abstracts of RCTs are important so that the researchers and clinicians can acquire adequate information about the safety, adequacy, and transparency of the clinical trial just by reading an abstract. Poorly designed and reported RCTs are likely to result in inaccurate conclusions and subsequently affect the clinical decision-making process. ...
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... Again, there is a dominating problem -machine translation. This is very intuitive, if one takes into account the recent studies [119,121,122,123,124] showing that lack of high fidelity machine translation remains the key barrier for world-wide communication. This problem seems very persistent, because it was indicated also in older research (e.g. in text from 1968 [120]). ...
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... Corresponding authors from non-English-speaking countries are less prominent, especially if there is a lead author who comes from a predominantly English-speaking country (Fox et al. 2018). Paradoxically, however, multilingualism is widely considered an advantage in building scientific collaborations and diminishing academic inequalities and knowledge transfer barriers (Amano et al. 2016(Amano et al. , 2021. ...
International collaborations show asymmetries and imbalances that influence how countries take part in international relations. In this context, science diplomacy (SD) could offer possibilities towards building partnerships and meaningful engagement between Europe and Latin America. The purpose of this article is to analyse how scientific collaborations between Latin American and European researchers are carried out, observing trends, behaviours, and perceptions. Qualitative methodologies and the analysis of empirical data collected through a survey allow the extraction of relevant experiences from real cases of international joint projects. Findings indicate that addressing the asymmetries in the collaboration between partnering researchers from Europe and Latin America is essential, and SD approaches may facilitate such endeavour. SD may not represent a panacea; however, it seems to facilitate the internationalisation of research in terms of mobility, international scientific collaborations, and knowledge exchange with under-represented actors in traditional international scientific schemes, such as indigenous communities.
... Language should not be a barrier to scientific dissemination. [3][4][5][6] As science has been speaking English for decades, it has accelerated knowledge sharing, but has also created a two-tier system that has put many non-native English researchers at disadvantage. Many non-native English authors, including those based in countries with limited resources, have to seek help from professional language editors at extra costs. ...
The geosciences have the lowest racial and ethnic diversity of all STEM fields at all levels of higher education, and atmospheric science is emblematic of this discrepancy. Despite a growing awareness of the problem, Black, Indigenous, people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQIA+ persons continue to be largely absent in academic programs and in the geoscience workforce. There is a desire and need for new approaches, new entry points, and higher levels of engagement to foster a diverse community of researchers, scholars, and practitioners in atmospheric science. One challenge among many is that diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are often siloed from many aspects of the scientific process, technical training, and scientific community. We have worked towards bridging this gap through the development of a new atmospheric science course designed to break down traditional barriers for entry into diversity, equity, and inclusion engagement by graduate students, so they emerge better prepared to address issues of participation, representation, and inclusion. This article provides an overview of our new course, focused on social responsibility in atmospheric science. This course was piloted during Fall 2021 with the primary objective to educate and empower graduate students to be “diversity champions” in our field. We describe (1) rationale for a course of this nature within a graduate program, (2) course design and content, (3) service-learning projects, (4) impact of the course on students, and (5) scalability to other atmospheric science graduate programs.
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Coral reefs are under threat from disease as climate change alters environmental conditions. Rising temperatures exacerbate coral disease, but this relationship is likely complex as other factors also influence coral disease prevalence. To better understand this relationship, we meta‐analytically examined 108 studies for changes in global coral disease over time alongside temperature, expressed using average summer sea surface temperature (SST) and cumulative heat stress as weekly sea surface temperature anomalies (WSSTAs). We found that both rising average summer SST and WSSTA were associated with global increases in the mean and variability in coral disease prevalence. Global coral disease prevalence tripled, reaching 9.92% in the 25 years examined, and the effect of ‘year’ became more stable (i.e. prevalence has lower variance over time), contrasting the effects of the two temperature stressors. Regional patterns diverged over time and differed in response to average summer SST. Our model predicted that, under the same trajectory, 76.8% of corals would be diseased globally by 2100, even assuming moderate average summer SST and WSSTA. These results highlight the need for urgent action to mitigate coral disease. Mitigating the impact of rising ocean temperatures on coral disease is a complex challenge requiring global discussion and further study.
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As we enter the next phase of international policy commitments to halt biodiversity loss (e.g., Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework), biodiversity indicators will play an important role in forming the robust basis upon which targeted, and time sensitive conservation actions are developed. Population trend indicators are one of the most powerful tools in biodiversity monitoring due to their responsiveness to changes over short timescales and their ability to aggregate species trends from global down to sub-national or even local scale. We consider how the project behind one of the foremost population level indicators - the Living Planet Index - has evolved over the last 25 years, its value to the field of biodiversity monitoring, and how its components have portrayed a compelling account of the changing status of global biodiversity through its application at policy, research and practice levels. We explore ways the project can develop to enhance our understanding of the state of biodiversity and share lessons learned to inform indicator development and mobilise action.
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Many researchers in the developing world feel trapped in a vicious circle of neglect and -- some say -- prejudice by publishing barriers they claim doom good science to oblivion.
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Global biodiversity conservation is seriously challenged by gaps and heterogeneity in the geographical coverage of existing information. Nevertheless, the key barriers to the collection and compilation of biodiversity information at a global scale have yet to be identified. We show that wealth, language, geographical location and security each play an important role in explaining spatial variations in data availability in four different types of biodiversity databases. The number of records per square kilometre is high in countries with high per capita gross domestic product (GDP), high proportion of English speakers and high security levels, and those located close to the country hosting the database; but these are not necessarily countries with high biodiversity. These factors are considered to affect data availability by impeding either the activities of scientific research or active international communications. Our results demonstrate that efforts to solve environmental problems at a global scale will gain significantly by focusing scientific education, communication, research and collaboration in low-GDP countries with fewer English speakers and located far from Western countries that host the global databases; countries that have experienced conflict may also benefit. Findings of this study may be broadly applicable to other fields that require the compilation of scientific knowledge at a global level.
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THIS ARTICLE WAS RETRACTED *ONLY* TO CORRECT MY NAME due to an editorial problem after the Galley Proof was edited. (see details on the "retraction notice" link: Do Not Get Discouraged by the nasty orange label RG put up there. :-) . ABSTRACT: The aim of publishing papers in high-impact peer-reviewed journals eventually leads non-NES (non native English speakers) scientists to almost exclusively produce papers in English, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle in which English becomes an increasingly important and ineludible tool to communicate scientific findings. In this article, I propose that the ultimate problem in this scenario is that the obligation to write exclusively in English is progressively deteriorating non-NES schools of thought, the quality of interactions between scientists and people and between advisors and advisees, and the integrity of local natural resources and biodiversity. Furthermore, this obligation hinders the emergence of many potentially brilliant minds.
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It is widely accepted that there is a considerable gap between the science of conservation biology and the design and execution of biodiversity conservation projects in the field and science is failing to inform the practice of conservation. There are many reasons why this implementation gap exists. A high proportion of papers published in scientific journals by conservation biologists are seldom read outside of the academic world and there are few incentives for academics to convert their science into practice. In turn, field practitioners rarely document their field experiences and experiments in a manner that can meaningfully inform conservation scientists. Issues related to access to scientific literature, scientific relevance in multidisciplinary environments, donor expectations and a lack of critical analysis at all levels of conservation theory and practice are factors that exacerbate the divide. The contexts in which conservation biologists and field practitioners operate are also often highly dissimilar, and each has differing professional responsibilities and expectations that compromise the ability to learn from each other's expertise. Building on recent debate in the literature, and using case studies to illustrate the issues that characterize the divide, this paper draws on the authors' experiences of project management as well as academic research. We identify five key issues related to information exchange: access to scientific literature, levels of scientific literacy, lack of interdisciplinarity, questions of relevance and lack of sharing of conservation-related experiences and suggest new ways of working that could assist in bridging the gap between conservation scientists and field practitioners.
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Farming is the basis of our civilization yet is more damaging to wild nature than any other sector of human activity. Here, we propose that in order to limit its impact into the future, conservation researchers and practitioners need to address several big topics--about the scale of future demand, about which crops and livestock to study, about whether low-yield or high-yield farming has the potential to be least harmful to nature, about the environmental performance of new and existing farming methods, and about the measures needed to enable promising approaches and techniques to deliver on their potential. Tackling these issues requires conservationists to explore the many consequences that decisions about agriculture have beyond the farm, to think broadly and imaginatively about the scale and scope of what is required to halt biodiversity loss, and to be brave enough to test and when necessary support counterintuitive measures.