Project Details A feasibility study of the scope and limitation of machine translations as a means of disseminating useful reading material for chemical education to be used on the Internet.

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 October 2002
End Date:
30 June 2010
Division Name:
Committee on Chemistry Education
Division No.:


To attempt the bi-directional translation of chemical education materials from English to other languages and verse versa using commercially available machine translation software, and to carry out a feasibility study on the establishment of local translation centers where bi-directional translation suitable for dissemination by Internet is regularly carried out.


In the modern age of globalization, the most desirable situation for all people involved in chemical education is for them to be able to share all important information and materials related to their field. Given that a one-language policy (i.e., everything in English) is an impractical option for a vast number of educators whose native tongue is not English, translation remains the only feasible method available to realize proper English language usage.

In the past, translations performed by human translators were very expensive and time-consuming. In addition, even if translations were to be undertaken, the cost of dissemination of translated materials internationally (e.g., postage) would be prohibitive.

In the age of IT, the situation can be changed by the use of machine translation (MT), an advantage of which is that the translated materials can directly be disseminated via the Internet with nominal cost if the relevant infrastructure is in a reasonable state.

It is often said that the quality of texts obtained through MT is, at this point in time, poor. Henceforth, we can expect that rapid progress will be made with translation software technology. In view of such exciting possibilities, we would like to undertake the following feasibility studies:

  1. to test the effectiveness of commercially available MT software in the bi-directional translation of chemical education materials.
  2. to study the possibility of establishing bi-directional MT centers in several countries.
  3. to disseminate the translated materials and information via the Internet.

Whenever translation is involved, there is a problem of copyright. In this project, the problem of copyright can be circumvented in this way. At the initial (i.e., trial) stage, the material translated FROM English will be restricted to articles in such journals as Chemical Education International, Chemistry International, and some articles in Pure and Applied Chemistry.

As for the materials translated into English, there should be many good articles written in languages other than English for the journals edited and published by national chemical societies. The Chemical Society of Japan, for instance, will agree and welcome the articles in the Kagaku to Kyoiku (Chemistry and Education), the monthly journal published by CSJ to be translated into English and disseminated to the world via Internet. Chemical societies of other countries will respond in a similar manner. It must be pointed out no attempt will be made translation among non-English languages. In other words, bi-directional translation will be attempted only between English and non-English languages.


> project annoucemenet published in Chem.Int. May/June 2003

Early 2004, Professor Cardellini has volunteered to test a translation software from English to Italians; sample texts can be viewed on , Cardellini ‘s website devoted to effective teaching for meaningful learning. For example, see, a translation of Atkins’ review of the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education, or, Agapova’s article titled ‘Encouraging Independent Chemistry Learning through Multimedia Design Experiences.

August 2004 – The task group held a mini symposium during the 18th ICCE in Istanbul, and three reports (L. Cardellini, M. Ito, M. Elisa Maia and N. Tarasova) were reviewed, covering tests of machine translations from English into Italian, Japanese, Portugese and Russian. The task group beleives that machine translation is a practical solution to deal with increasing amount of information distributed on the web in English and other languages. Over the next two years, tests should be extended to other European and non-European languages. While the distribution of chemical information should only be checked by chemists and chemical educators themselves, the task group will also consider the possibility of having the products distribution managed by chemistry clearing houses. Examples were presented by Dr. Tarasova > see ‘Clearing House’ project.

Dec 2006 – see updatesreported in CEI 2006 <>