February 21st is International Mother Language Day, a UNESCO event aimed at protecting linguistic diversity. In a message for the 2012 celebration, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO emphasizes that:
“Multilingualism is our ally in ensuring quality education for all, in promoting inclusion and in combating discrimination."
As part of our own aim to share research as widely as possible throughout the world, a number of BioMed Central journals are now able to publish secondary abstracts in a different language to the main English language abstract. Nearly 40 journals support multilingual abstract publication, for example: Globalization and Health, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine and Malaria Journal.
Secondary abstracts can be included underneath the primary English language abstract within the article PDF and online HTML version. Only the primary English language abstract will be indexed in PubMed. For details on which BioMed Central journals support multilingual abstract publication, please check the information about Abstracts in the instructions for authors for specific journals. Second language abstracts are not compulsory and the language choice is at the author’s discretion, so that the author can choose to publish a non-English abstract in any language that uses Latin script (ISO 15924).
A well-written abstract is critical in helping researchers to decide whether to read the full article and a second language abstract allows the author to attract more readers, in their native language. Support of multilingualism by academic journals should also help to improve the accessibility of research findings to scientists, clinicians and policy makers in the developing world.