About the Citizen Science Translation Hub

 
What we're doing

There are thousands of citizen science projects and useful documents, articles, training materials, websites and videos about citizen science. However, most of these are only available in one language (very often English). This means that they're not available to many people. As citizen science grows in accessibility and importance across the world, we want to grow a network of volunteers who would like to make citizen science materials available in more than one language. Our goal is to make important citizen science materials and projects available in as many languages as we can.

We also want to become a resource for translators and for multilingual citizen scientists: as we work with people, we'll build up a store of useful resources and vocabulary banks for translators.

What we're asking volunteers to do

We're asking anyone who speaks more than one language to translate any of our documents they like into any langage they like. We're also asking for you to proofread other documents to check for fluency and accuracy. 

Alternatively, we'd love to hear from you if you can recommend more material for translation, for example if you are involved in a citizen science project that you'd like to make available in more languages. 

Please check our list of materials available for translation to see if any of it interests you. The exact process is described in our "Get Involved" section. 

Citizen science

Citizen science is any kind of scientific activity done by people who are not working scientists, or done outside scientific institutions such as labs or universities. It takes many forms: it might be an online project where there is a large amount of data to be sorted or analysed in some way, or it might be a group of people going outside and recording nature or pollution that they find. It might be downloading a screensaver that analyses complex problems, or using your phone or some equipment to measure something in your local environment. Everyone can take part in citizen science.

You can find out more about citizen science, and join in if you like, at places like Doing It Together Science, EU-Citizen.Science, the Zooniverse, SciStarter, and many more. Wikipedia has an enormous list of citizen science projects here

More recently, there have been efforts to connect citizen science with policy making - for example, environmental findings. Very often, local people know the environmental issues in their area in more detail than scientists or policy makers, so it's right for them to be involved in scientific investigations and decisions. 

Who we are

The Citizen Science Translation Hub began as a small side project of Doing It Together Science (DITOs) in early 2018, and is being continued by the EU-Citizen.Science platform. It is being developed by Alice Sheppard at University College London's Extreme Citizen Science department. 

Many of us in DITOs and UCL Extreme Citizen Science noticed that at every conference where people from different countries came together to talk about citizen science, someone would say: "I wish this was available in the language of my country. I'd love to be able to show it to more people." The plan to create a network of volunteer translators was put forward to DITOs staff by Professor Muki Haklay in 2017.

Alice is very grateful to the following people for their insights, advice and support: Federico Federici, Egle Ramanauskaite, Claire Baert, Suw Charman-Anderson, Judy Barrett, Hugo Durantini Luca, Renata Kubus, Elisa Radosta, Pauline Appels, Lina Ludwig, Yukiko Shibota, Thilina Heenatigala, Gabrielle Simard and the Astronomy Translation Network. 

FAQ

What sort of things are you translating? Is it just things by DITOs?

Definitely not just things by DITOs! DITOs wrote plenty of material, but we thought that if we are going to grow a network of volunteers, then this should be as open and active as possible. You can recommend a text yourself, if you like.

What languages is your work in and what languages do you want?

Any! Currently, most documents we have are in English, but this may change with time. In some cases, the document owner will request a specific language and we'll say so, but any languages are welcome. 

Can I see the documents that want translation in advance?

Of course. They are in "Translations in Progress". We have made Word versions of all of them which anyone may download, and the originals are in the public domain and linked on our website. 

How do I join?

Go to "Get Involved". If you're a citizen science project, we'd love to hear from you and discuss what text you'd like translated. If you're interested in translating or proofreading, you can start doing this immediately by downloading any of the texts from "Translations in Progress". There are no forms to fill in; please just e-mail us at the moment.

How do you check that someone's work is correct?

We have a quality control process: after the first volunteer, the "translator", has checked the document, we will ask for a second volunteer to be a "proofreader". The proofreader will be asked to check for fluency in the new language, science facts and accuracy. If we receive a document in a language none of us speak, we may run it through Google Translate ourselves, just to be sure, and we will welcome feedback on our documents or process from anybody. 

When a translation is complete, what do you do with it?

First, we put it into "Completed Translations", and we thank the translator and proofreader publicly (unless they don't want us to). We also send the document back to the original owner. They will have agreed in advance that they will use it - they should have it on their website, and if possible they should disseminate it to organisations or people who speak the language the document is now in. It is one of our principles that all

translated work is publicly available, so you can download any documents you like.

I looked at one of your pages and it asked for a password. What's going on?

That means I am still trying to fix one or two very small problems with the site. You're welcome to see it - just ask me for the password! I have not hidden anything important, except the discussion forum, which will be available soon.

I'm in a citizen science project and it would be great if it was available in another language. What should I do?

First, tell them about us! Then, depending on who owns the written material, you or they should contact us or we will contact them, and we will assess the material to decide if it should be added to our website.

How will you deal with complicated formats, such as a diagram or game or a project interface with lots of buttons?

We've checked out the games industry for this one - there are good methods, such as using XML files which keep headings and sub-headings to make sure the text is all in the correct place. We will also be working with all the document owners to ensure that the text is as easy to access as possible. (When you're working with something like this it will be particularly important to see the originals, for context.)

I've never done translating before. Can I get some advice here?

Definitely. We have a discussion forum, where you can ask questions, and we are also slowly building a Resources page. Over time, we hope to create a more involved interface and a tutorial, but we'll have to see what works and what happens.

One very important point is: do not worry about trying to get a very precise translation, because this may not sound "right" in the new language. The most important thing is to convey the information, and the tone (for example, is it fun or formal?), even if your new sentence or paragraph is rephrased.

I'm fluent enough to do some translating, but not perfect. Can I use the Internet for help?

Yes, of course. You can use Google Translate or other translation software or websites - we will be building up a list of your recommendations for these (there's an article of suggestions here). These aren't perfect - otherwise everyone would already be using them, and we wouldn't need this project - and you will still need to "tidy up" and check that everything is correct. Particularly, a direct translation often sounds strange in a new language, so you may need to completely rephrase many sentences. But automatic translation should save you a lot of time. 

I'm in the middle of a document and there's a word or expression I'm not sure about. Can I get help?

Yes - please come to our forum where our volunteers can chat with each other and we welcome debate, discussion and all help on things like this. If you don't get any responses, it's often worth Googling the phrase to find other forums where people are discussing it.

Can we have a project interface like the Zooniverse, where we can translate right here in the website?

If we have the resources, it would be brilliant to develop something like this. A particular advantage of this would be translation memory, so that we don't need to keep having to translate common phrases again and again! We're also looking into obtaining some translation software, such as one of the services listed here. We'd be interested in how our volunteers feel about either of these options, so let us know.

What about well-used phrases like "citizen science"? Will there be some agreements about how to use them?

Yes - over time we will develop our own glossary and word bank, and ask that everyone uses them. As you go through a document, I might ask you to provide some specific words. You can also check specific terminology on UNTerm

Why aren't you paying?

We wish we could! We realise that, unlike much citizen science activity, translation is a profession. Sadly, we do not have the funds to pay to translate even our own materials into as many languages as we'd like - much less anybody else's work, or the millions of words written about citizen science around the world. So, like other citizen science projects, this is a voluntary process: you may do as much or little as you please. If this is your livelihood, we urge you not to put in time you need to use to earn your living.

We aim that everyone should benefit from the process, and that by taking part you find the process enjoyable and interesting - and, if you're interested in a career in translation, gain valuable experience too. We wish to create a place where everyone can make friends and connections, and learn about citizen science and about each other's countries and cultures too.

 

If you are a student or aspiring translator, you may wish to add work you have done with us to your portfolio.

But aren't you taking work away from professional translators?

No - because nobody currently has the funds to pay for something like this. People pay to translate documents such as legal or commercial work, or literature, which require training and skill and where great accuracy is crucial. The kind of work we translate does not reach this level. While we have a quality control process and we aim for the highest accuracy possible, if there is a mistake somewhere it will probably not be disastrous - a good citizen science project is designed so that there is room for error. So we are open to complete beginners. 

Contact

Currently, you can contact me at a.sheppard@ucl.ac.uk. If you wish to learn more about the projects surrounding this Translation Hub, please check out Doing It Together Science and EU-Citizen.Science.

Our Principles

(1) The Citizen Science Translation Hub is a citizen science project, where our aim is to create and share knowledge and we all work together. 

(2) Anyone can be a translator, no matter how much or little experience you have. 
(3) Anyone may recommend documents to be translated, and we will assess every suggestion we receive.
(4) We will have a strong quality control system, with at least one person to check each piece of work for fluency and accuracy.

(5) All translators will be publicly thanked - on this website and, where possible, in the translated document or on the website of the document's owner. If you do not wish to be publicly named, you can tell us this, or submit a nickname.

(6) Anyone is welcome to tell us if they have any suggestions to improve the Citizen Science Translation Hub, and we will listen to the suggestions.

(7) The documents must be made as easy to work on as possible, for example as tables. You are welcome to use any translation software you like, and we will look at creating an integrated platform for people to use if they wish. 

(8) The original owners of any documents translated must agree to make any translations they receive publicly available. 

(9) Every volunteer translator is valued and may do as much or little work as they wish. Each participant should benefit from their experience, whether this is enjoyment, gaining experience in translating, gaining new knowledge from the material they read, or making connections with other people on the translation hub.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement no. 709443.

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