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Open Access Short Report

Preliminary study of online machine translation use of nursing literature: quality evaluation and perceived usability

Ryoko Anazawa*, Hirono Ishikawa, MJ Park and Takahiro Kiuchi

Author Affiliations

Department of Social Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:635  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-635

Published: 14 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Japanese nurses are increasingly required to read published international research in clinical, educational, and research settings. Language barriers are a significant obstacle, and online machine translation (MT) is a tool that can be used to address this issue. We examined the quality of Google Translate® (English to Japanese and Korean to Japanese), which is a representative online MT, using a previously verified evaluation method. We also examined the perceived usability and current use of online MT among Japanese nurses.

Findings

Randomly selected nursing abstracts were translated and then evaluated for intelligibility and usability by 28 participants, including assistants and research associates from nursing universities throughout Japan. They answered a questionnaire about their online MT use. From simple comparison of mean scores between two language pairs, translation quality was significantly better, with respect to both intelligibility and usability, for Korean-Japanese than for English-Japanese. Most respondents perceived a language barrier. Online MT had been used by 61% of the respondents and was perceived as not useful enough.

Conclusion

Nursing articles translated from Korean into Japanese by an online MT system could be read at an acceptable level of comprehension, but the same could not be said for English-Japanese translations. Respondents with experience using online MT used it largely to grasp the overall meanings of the original text. Enrichment in technical terms appeared to be the key to better usability. Users will be better able to use MT outputs if they improve their foreign language proficiency as much as possible. Further research is being conducted with a larger sample size and detailed analysis.

Keywords:
Online machine translation; Evaluation; Usability; Nursing literature; Japanese nurses