Multilingualism is a critical characteristic of a healthy, inclusive, and diverse research communications landscape. Publishing in a local language ensures that the public in different countries has access to the research they fund, and also levels the playing field for researchers who speak different languages. The Helsinki Initiative on Multilingualism in Scholarly Communication asserts that the disqualification of local or national languages in academic publishing is the most important – and often forgotten – factor that prevents societies from using and taking advantage of the research done where they live.
Multilingualism presents a particular challenge for the discovery of research outputs. Although researchers and other information seekers may only be able to read in one or two languages, they want to know about all the relevant research in their area, regardless of the language in which it is published. Yet, discovery systems such as Google Scholar and other scholarly indexes tend to provide access only to the content available in the language of the user. In addition, the language of a scholarly resource is often not labelled appropriately, meaning a large portion of non-English resources are excluded from search results. Furthermore, many scholarly communications infrastructures are sub-optimal in their support for a variety of languages since little attention was paid to this issue during their design process.