NEJM Group Reaches New Audiences Through Chinese Translation
NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan brings weekly NEJM and NEJM Journal Watch content to readers
August 2, 2018
In China, it’s not unusual for a physician to see a patient every few minutes and the largest hospitals can have thousands of beds. Not surprisingly, many clinicians have a difficult time keeping up with the medical literature, especially if it’s written in English.
That’s where NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan comes in. It’s a unique initiative among English-language medical publishers, translating the content of the New England Journal of Medicine and the NEJM Journal Watch family of publications for an audience of non-English speakers.
“Our mission is to improve Chinese clinicians’ access to the best research being done in medicine, via several digital platforms,” said Christine Lamb, director of corporate marketing for NEJM Group. “We also want to improve Chinese researchers’ understanding of how high-quality research is conducted, which will eventually lead to more successful submissions to NEJM from China.”
Focusing on the Areas of Highest Medical Need
In the past few decades, China’s rapid economic growth, graying population, and changes in lifestyles have resulted in an increasing disease burden. The majority of NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan articles focus on the areas of health that are of most concern: cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and pulmonary disease. “In mid-June, we added pediatrics and maternal health,” said Lamb. “Since the one-child policy was lifted, more older women are now having children. And as a result, physicians are seeing more prenatal and postnatal issues. They need the best information to manage complicated patients.”
Each week, a team of Chinese physician-editors translates three NEJM articles — two are original research — and up to 15 articles from any of the 12 NEJM Journal Watch editions, specialty-specific literature reviews with added physician commentary. Accompanying many of the NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan articles is commentary from Chinese physician-experts that places the pieces into context for their audience. Articles are published within two weeks after the English versions appear and go through a rigorous translation process to ensure accuracy.
While practicing physicians are the main audience for NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan, the publication is also targeting medical students and physicians-in-training, hoping to instill in the next generation of doctors an affinity for high-quality scholarship. Currently, there are more than 40,000 registered users of NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan, and the number grows each month.
Learning about China’s Medical Libraries
In June, Robert McKinney, NEJM regional sales director of the Asia Pacific region, attended the annual conference hosted by the China Academic Library Information System or CALIS. Within CALIS are representatives from the medical libraries of the country’s 54 schools teaching Western medicine. NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan’s managing editor, Rui-Ping Xiao, MD, introduced the one-and-a-half-year-old publication to the audience while McKinney spoke about NEJM institutional licenses, which have been available for about five years in China.
McKinney said he learned at the conference that the top medical schools teach in English and that their libraries have many of the same resources as their American counterparts. In fact, presenters at the conference included representatives from other top scientific journals including Nature and companies such as Wolters Kluwer and Elsevier. “And like a lot of institutions in the United States, medical schools get research grants and funding from the government and that helps fund the resources that are available,” said McKinney.
Improving the Quality of Original Research
China has long been the source of many article submissions to NEJM, although not many are accepted for publication. In 2014, NEJM added two Chinese physician-researchers — one is Rui-Ping Xiao, MD — to its editorial board and they scout promising research and work with authors to develop their manuscripts. NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan is a complement to this effort, and its advisory board of Chinese physician-researchers has visited NEJM’s Boston offices twice to learn about its operations.
NEJM hopes that another byproduct of publishing in Chinese — and offering the publication free with registration — will be a reduction in pirating of NEJM content, which is particularly troublesome in China. “The minute NEJM is published, the articles go up on all kinds of websites, sometimes disguised as a journal club conversation, but it’s done without our permission,” said Lamb. “It’s not just our problem, it’s every journal’s problem.”
Lamb says that at this point, NEJM doesn’t have plans for other translated products because of the cost. This endeavor in China has been made possible through a licensing arrangement with Jiahui Medical Research and Education (JMRE) of Shanghai, whose mission is to improve the Chinese medical community’s access to high-quality research and establish stronger ties between Chinese scientists and the international medical community.
NEJM Yi Xue Qian Yan can be accessed by individuals after registering. Readers who have a subscription to NEJM or access it through an institutional license simply click on a link that brings them to the Chinese translation of the article.