Thread: Research

The scenario of bilingual publications in Brazil

Denise Arend and Claudia Buchweitz – Porto Alegre, Brazil

Objective: To describe the scenario of bilingual (Portuguese/English) and English-language scientific journals in Brazil.

Methods: The SciELO database was browsed for bilingual and English-only journals. Out of 207 serials listed, 49 met these criteria. A questionnaire was sent to the editors of the 49 journals inquiring about their reasons for publishing in a foreign language. A representative of the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME) answered a specific questionnaire concerning language-related trends in Brazilian journals.

Results: Until the present moment, we have obtained information concerning 20 journals (41%): 17 were originally published in Portuguese but subsequently adopted an English or bilingual model, most of them (14/17) in the past ten years; the remaining three had been published in English/bilingually from the first issue. The trend toward this language policy was confirmed by the BIREME representative. The main motivations reported were increased visibility and inclusion in databases such as MEDLINE, Thomson ISI and, since 1997, SciELO. Regarding databases, the BIREME representative agreed that some indexing organizations tend to select English-language journals for coverage, although no explicit language restrictions are usually stated. Ten journals receive submissions already in English, whereas the other ten reported that they translate articles after acceptance; the overall responsibility for translation quality seems to lie with editors-in-chief. The most common production processes combine in-house staff with outsourcing (nine journals).

Conclusions: The responses suggest that in Brazil, publishing in English (either exclusively or bilingually) is currently considered to be a successful strategy to increase visibility. The increasing number of journals publishing in English and the apparent preference of indexing institutions for English-language journals indicate a possible increase in work opportunities for language professionals (translators and text editors) in this setting.


Denise Arend is a partner at Scientific Linguagem/SciBooks, a small editing, translation & publishing company in Porto Alegre, Brazil. She is in charge of coordinating the production process of three scientific journals and is currently working on her MA in Translation Studies at Aston University, Birmingham, UK. E-mail: denise@scientific.com.br.

Claudia Buchweitz is senior partner at Scientific Linguagem/SciBooks. She is also an associate editor of the Pan-American Health Organization’s Revista Panamericana de Salud Publica/Pan American Journal of Public Health and medical writer for the Emphysema Treatment Group at Hospital Moinhos de Vento, a private hospital in Porto Alegre. E-mail: claudia@scientific.com.br.

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