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Policy on Use of English for Official Scientific Communication in NIH Laboratories and Branches

In order to ensure the safety and efficiency of NIH laboratories, and to optimize training of staff, all work-related conversations should be in English. If all those present in the laboratory are fluent in another language, that language may be used for work-related conversations. Further, all official written documents should be in English, for example, publications, laboratory notebooks, e-mail that will be retained in an official file, letters, and memoranda. Personal communications unrelated to the work of the laboratory may be made in any language.

Dr. Gottesman described instances in NIH laboratories when a language other than English is used and possible problems that arise, if all in the laboratory do not understand that language. Therefore, a policy was proposed on the use of English for official scientific communication in NIH laboratories. Dr. Gottesman emphasized that the policy applies only to communications for official business. The Scientific Directors noted the need for an exception to the policy for the writing of book chapters in a foreign language and for communication with scientists in other countries, but they did not otherwise find this proposed policy to be problematic. Dr. Birkedal-Hansen noted the overriding issue of courtesy in some cases where foreign languages are spoken.

First Established:
Wednesday, June 3, 1998 - 9:00am

The page was last updated on Thursday, March 12, 2020 - 5:37pm