The Translations and Open Science project, led by OPERAS and funded by the French National Fund for Open Science, explores translation as one of the possible ways to disseminate research results in different languages. The project has a special focus on translation technology that can be used to optimise and mutualise translation processes, resources and tools.


In 2019, the Helsinki Initiative formalised for the first time the importance of language diversity in scholarly communication, while not failing to notice the number of challenges to multilingualism in the current global landscape of academic research. A large campaign was therefore launched to raise awareness on the need for a new paradigm allowing for science to be shared “In All Languages”. Since then, language diversity and multilingualism have become key concerns in scholarly communication. Several actions and solutions have been pointed out, leading the way towards a sustainable multilingual science. 

The Translations and Open Science project is an initiative intended to help achieve this goal. Following one of the commitments of the National Plan for Open Science of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the project was launched in 2020. During the initial phase, a first working group, made up of experts in natural language processing and translation, published a report suggesting recommendations and avenues for experimentation with a view to establishing a scientific translation service combining relevant technologies, resources and human skills. The service will be available for different users and scenarios: researchers in need of support to write or translate scientific content in a language which is not their mother tongue, publishers that would like to translate scientific publications, readers who would like to submit a translation suggestion for a scientific paper, etc.

The scientific translation service is therefore intended to:

  • address the needs of different users, including researchers (authors and readers), readers outside the academic community, publishers of scientific texts, dissemination platforms or open archives;
  • combine human skills and specialised language technologies, in particular adapted machine translation engines and in-domain language resources to support a collaborative, human-centred translation process;
  • be founded on the principles of open science, hence based on open-source software as well as shareable resources, and used to produce open access translations.

      In order to follow up on the report published in 2020 and lay the foundation of the translation service, OPERAS welcomed the proposal to coordinate a preparatory phase consisting in a series of studies in the following areas:

      1. Mapping and collection of scientific bilingual corpora: identifying and defining the conditions for collecting and preparing corpora of bilingual scientific texts which will serve as training dataset for specialised translation engines, source data for terminology extraction, and translation memory creation.
      2. Use case study for a technology-based scientific translation service: drafting an overview of the current translation practices in scholarly communication and defining the use cases of a technology-based scientific translation service (associated features, expected quality, editorial and technical workflows, and involved human experts).
      3. Machine translation evaluation in the context of scholarly communication: evaluating a set of translation engines with a variety of scientific texts, in order to provide information about the usability of the raw machine translation output for different purposes, from writing assistance to post-editing or gisting.
      4. Roadmap and budget projections for a technology-based scientific translation service: making budget projections to anticipate the costs to develop and run the service.

      Provisional schedule

      Study No. 1: Mapping and collection of scientific bilingual corpora

      Bid period: 1st September to 7 October 2022

      Service starting date: 1st November 2022

      Expected turnaround time: 4 months

      Link to the call: https://www.operas-eu.org/mapping-and-collection-of-scientific-bilingual-corpora-open-call/ 

      Study No. 2: Use case study for a technology-based scientific translation service

      Bid period: 1st September to 28 October 2022

      Service starting date: 1st December 2022

      Expected turnaround time: 6 months

      Link to the call: https://www.operas-eu.org/use-case-study-for-a-technology-based-scientific-translation-service-open-call/ 

      Study No. 3: Machine translation output evaluation in the context of scholarly communication

      Bid period: 1st November to 23 December 2022

      Service starting date: 1st March 2023

      Expected turnaround time: 4 months

      Link to the call: https://www.operas-eu.org/machine-translation-evaluation-in-the-context-of-scholarly-communication-open-call/ 

      Study No. 4: Roadmap and budget projections

      Bid period: 1st March to 15 April 2023

      Service starting date: 1st June 2023

      Expected turnaround time: 4 months

      Link to the call to be released