The Internet can alleviate inequality in science literacy. Nevertheless, structural factors appear to underlie disparities in science literacy and in Internet access and use.
Among these, the “language divide” partly determines how successful users are in their Internet use depending on the languages they speak.
So far, little is known about the availablity of scientific information in different languages.
Does the quality of online scientific information vary between languages and scientific fields?
We collected online search results regarding scientific terms in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, analyzed their content, and rated their scientific and pedagogical quality.
Statistical methods included univariate and multivariate ANOVA and Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA).
Note: The Linear Discriminant Analysis was conducted by my co-author, Dr. Eyal Nitzany.
Findings and Discussion
Findings indicate that searches in English yielded overall higher quality results, compared with Hebrew and Arabic, but mostly in pedagogical aspects, rather than scientific ones.
Clustering the results by language yielded better separation than clustering by scientific field. This finding points to a “language divide” in access to online science content.
These findings should encourage scientific communities and institutions to mitigate this language divide.
Figure 1. Effects of language and field on combined measures of information quality—MANOVA results. One, two, and three bullets (•, ••, and •••) denote statistical significance at the .05, .01, and .001 levels, respectively.
Figure 2. LDA of search terms (a) by language (colors) and (b) by field (shapes). (c) Differences in quality (areas of the triangles on the LDA plane) between equivalent terms in different languages. LD1 and LD2: First and second linear discriminants, respectively.
Press Releases and Media Coverage
- Quality of scientific information on Google differs between languages - Jerusalem Post, 22.7.2021
- באיזו שפה כדאי לכם לחפש בגוגל? - ישראל היום, 22.7.2021
- Technion press releases: English, Hebrew (July 2021)
Zoubi, K., Sharon, A. J., Nitzany, E., & Baram-Tsabari, A. (2021). Science, maddá and ‘ilm: The language divide in scientific information available to internet users. Public Understanding of Science. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/09636625211022975
Science, Maddá, and 'Ilm: The language divide in scientific information available to Internet users - Kawther Zoubi, Aviv J. Sharon, Eyal Nitzany, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, 2021
Abstract The Internet has potential to alleviate inequality in general and specifically with respect to science literacy. Nevertheless, digital divides persist in online access and use, as well as in subsequent social outcomes. Among these, the "language divide" partly determines how successful users are in their Internet use depending on their proficiency in languages, and especially in English.