'Powerful' blog

By the power of Cochrane! We are the Masters of the (podcast translation) Universe!

Jani Ruotsalainen is the Managing Editor of Cochrane Work. Here he explains his journey on getting his podcast translated and offers suggestion to others wanting their podcast translated and to the translators thinking about translating podcasts.

When we (i.e. Cochrane Work) published the first update of our review Preventing occupational stress in healthcare workers, I thought I would do a podcast in English and another one in my mother tongue Finnish. Then I thought it would be fun to see how many friends and colleagues I could entice to translate and record a version in their own language. So eventually I managed to coax, cajole and sweet-talk a handful to actually go through with it. But then progress ground to a halt. I wrote to centres and various random non-English speaking cochranites but in the end I got plenty more promises than actual podcasts. Ah well I thought and left it at that.

Then in Vienna I saw our dear Cochrane techies unveiling Task Exchange and I had one of those light-bulby moments. A-hah! So I quickly posted a task asking volunteers to translate and record their own version of my English podcast in exchange for eternal fame and adulation of the masses. Well, maybe not using those exact words but I made it clear I had no intention of paying anyone for this.

It was about here that Hayley Hassan, Cochrane Translations Support Officer, also got a whiff of my scheme. She tweeted about the podcast and sent a message asking people to translate it into more languages through thetranslations mailing list. And then the flood gates burst. Offers started pouring in from people representing languages I hadn’t even considered. Fantastic! Now there are a record-breaking 16 different language versions (including English) and there are even more on the way. Find all versions here. The Japanese one is my personal favourite so far. The previous record holder was Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil for eczema with 13 different language versions.

This is all great as it is but it also got me thinking why this whole translation wheeze isn’t standard practice. Here are my top tips to people wanting to see their podcast translated into more languages and to the translators doing the heavy lifting.

To the English-speaking podcasters:

  • Producing a podcast: Please contact Mike Clarke for more information, including help with script writing. Paolo Rosati is on hand to help with recording, and will publish the translated podcast on cochrane.org.
  • Ask for help: Ask your friends and colleagues if they are willing to first translate your transcript and then record themselves reading it. You can contact Hayley Hassan if you want help to get it translated.
  • It’s worth it!: A podcast opens your review up to a larger audience; the effort taken to help get your podcast translated makes that audience even larger.

To the translators:

  • Join the CommsNetwork: We flag any podcasts available for translation and any newly published podcast translations in a weekly digest. You can sign up for this weekly email by contacting the CommsNetwork coordinator
  • Join the translations mailing list: Opportunities for podcast translation are also communicated here, as well as other translation news.
  • Contact the Translations Support Coordinator:Hayley Hassan can provide clear instructions on how to record a translated podcast and recommend several easy to use programs.
  • Get experience: Translating a podcast is a good way of gaining translation experience and you will receive acknowledgement for your translated version of the podcast.


My own mother tongue has a mere five million and some speakers. So I am acutely aware of the gap that must surely exist between publishing our evidence in English and universal access to knowledge. Thankfully Cochrane Iberoamérica has recently started translating podcasts into Spanish regularly, and there are plans underway to start making other podcasts available in other languages too.  Let’s use the podcast format to its full extent by attracting more people to flex their translation biceps! We know the pen is mightier than the sword (sorry He-Man) but the microphone can be pretty punchy too.


Jani Ruotsalainen, Managing Editor, Cochrane Work Review Group

With kind help from Hayley Hassan, Translations Support Officer