Re: Impact and language

From: Eberhard R. Hilf <hilf_at_ISN-OLDENBURG.DE>
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2005 15:09:15 +0200

dear Colleagues,
publishing in finnish, as an example of a small country-language,
means, the author wants this to be read by the finnish colleagues.

The language problem cannot be so easily solved for those who want
to read papers of small country languages by transferring them to english:
you need the permission of the author, against his implicite will.

Also, though english is at present the most widely used and understood
scientific language, this was not the case just some 80 years earlier,
and it might not be so 80 years from now. (Think of the out
of Chinese well-educated scientists in 2085).
Thus the community has to dwell on language- independent ways of
transmission of scientific content,- and in some fields this is
a serious research topic: semantic machine-readable encoding of scientific
content (in mathematics and theoretical physics).
This is resting on the fact, that in many research fields the scientific
content is not bound to a language, either that of the reader nor or the
author, and so can be in principle encoded without using natural
Eberhard Hilf

Eberhard R. Hilf, Dr. Prof.;
CEO (Geschaeftsfuehrer)
Institute for Science Networking Oldenburg GmbH
an der Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet
Ammerlaender Heerstr.121; D-26129 Oldenburg
email :
tel : +49-441-798-2884
fax : +49-441-798-5851
Why not visit
- Buendnis Urheberrecht fuer Bildung und Wissenschaft
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On Wed, 28 Sep 2005, Jan Velterop wrote:

> This sentence struck me in Jean-Claude's message: "Most of the journals are published in Finnish."
> If impact is the prime objective of open access (and I agree with Stevan cum suis that it should be), should not the case be made that for material of global relevance (which may not be the situation for these Finnish titles mentioned by Jean-Claude) not only open access but also publication in English whenever possible is one of the essentials in order to achieve optimal impact? English is after all extremely widely understood by non-native speakers of the language, and this is particularly true in scientific circles. And for those not reading English, surely a translation in their own language from English is easier to obtain on the whole than, say, from Finnish, Dutch or Serbo-Croation, to name some random examples.
> Jan Velterop
> Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA> wrote:
> Pursuing my attempt to get some fix on the proportion of research
> journals directly or indirectly subsidized by governmental funds - once
> again, let me clarify that the indirect subsidy does *not* include the
> costs of subscriptions paid by publicly supported libraries; nor does it
> include the costs of publishing articles in a so-called "author-pays"
> business model à la BiomedCentral orPLoS - here are some interesting
> results from Finland, obtained from the Academy of Finland:
> ---------------------------------------
> I am sorry I can´t put any exact figure on scholarly journals published
> in Finland. The total number can be about 70. Which are really
> scientific or scholarly is not easy to define. Most of the journals are
> published in Finnish.
> The Academy of Finland grants subsidies to support the publishing
> activities of scientific societies. We do not have scientific journals
> published by private publishing houses in Finland. Each society runs its
> own "business". Scientific societies have got these grants for decades.
> So I would say that the process is more traditionalist than selective.
> Many of the journals subsidized by Academy get indirect subsidy, too.
> Like you described in your text. Those few journals which are not
> subsidized by Academy get some other indirect or direct subsidy.
> Hope my generalised and nonspecific answer gives you some idea of the
> scientific publishing in Finland.
> -----------------------------------------------
> My summary of this is that, in Finland, the Acadmey provides block
> grants to the scientific societies. These in turn use these block grants
> to publish journals that range from the scholarly level (peer reviewed)
> to non-scholarly levels (popularization?, professional?, educational?).
> One thing is clear, however: *all* scholarly journals (with peer review)
> in Finland are publicly supported, both directly and indirectly.
> The unresolved issue is that, of the 70 journals, the Academy does not
> appear to know the number of the truly scholarly or scientific journals,
> the apparent reason being the way in which this financing is delegated.
> This situation of delegation cum scientific association autonomy is
> relatively common IMHO. Scientific societies always strive for maximum
> freedom of action even while requesting maximum support from
> governmental sources. In a good number of countries - and Finland
> appears to be one of them - they seem to achieve a fair degree of
> success. From my perspective, this situation alas creates another layer
> of opacity.
> In conclusion, all scholarly journals published in Finland are publicly
> supported. So Stevan's request for a proportion figure finds an easy
> answer: 100%. We simply do not know how many of these journals there
> are.
> If any reader on the list, preferably from Finland, can give us an
> estimate of this number of scientific or scholarly journals, we will
> have a fairly complete picture of the situation in Finland.
> And I continue to be interested in any data from any country on this
> question of public support (direct and indirect) to the publishing of
> scientific and scholarly journals.
> Best,
> Jean-Claude Guédon
> --
> Dr. Jean-Claude Guédon
> Dept. of Comparative Literature
> University of Montreal
> PO Box 6128, Downtown Branch
> Montreal, QC H3C 3J7
> Canada
Received on Wed Sep 28 2005 - 20:34:16 BST

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