METM11 presentation     Thread: Research

Authors and translators of medical articles: striking a balance after five years of bilingual publishing at Deutsches Ärzteblatt International

Elke Bartholomäus – Cologne, Germany

Background and purpose: The German Medical Association's official journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt has been translating scientific articles into English and making them openly accessible online since 2006. Individual feedback from authors and translators has provided some insight into how Deutsches Ärzteblatt's bilingual publishing initiative is perceived by those involved in the process, but more representative data is needed. The aim of this study was to assess author satisfaction with translation quality and the editorial process, and to elucidate what concrete advantages or disadvantages they associated with bilingual publication. In addition, we wanted to know how translators perceived their overall work experience with Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (DAI).

Methods: Participants have been asked to anonymously complete an online questionnaire using open questions and Likert scale ratings. For the comprehensive retrospective authors' survey we contacted all corresponding authors who had published articles in DAI between January 2008 and April 2011 and invited them to respond to a questionnaire with 6 questions. The translators' survey comprised 10 questions covering 3 subject areas: challenges, aids/tools, and feedback.

Results: Preliminary data suggest that authors take great interest in Deutsches Ärzteblatt's bilingual approach and value the opportunity to have their articles translated and published in English in addition to the German version. For translators, the data allow first insights into a broad spectrum of thoughts on tools and challenges in German-to-English medical translation, and point to an overall positive work experience. Complete study results will be available for analysis in September.

Conclusions: The results of our authors' and translators' surveys will be presented. These data should help us elucidate what effects bilingual publishing has had for German-speaking authors and allow us to identify any particular challenges that might be associated with the translation of our content as well as areas in the editorial process with potential for improvement.


Elke Bartholomäus, M.A., is copyeditor and translations project manager at Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. After having spent several years living and working in New York City she received a master's degree in art history, literature and philosophy from the University of Cologne. She has been responsible for the English edition of Deutsches Ärzteblatt since its inception in 2006.