Salomé Planas is the Spanish translation coordinator for Cochrane Iberoamérica and has been involved with Cochrane since 1998. Here she reflects on her experience and the changes she has seen during the last 18 years, as well as explaining why she is proud to be part of Cochrane.
How did you first get involved with Cochrane?
"I got involved in 1998. I was working in a hospital in Sabadell, Barcelona, while I was studying. When I finished studying, a doctor friend of mine told me about Cochrane. I hadn’t heard of it. The first time you hear the name, it sounds strange. She told me to send my CV to Dr Bonfill, who was working on lots of projects and might need help. I sent my CV, went to meet him, and he suggested I got involved in an anti-smoking project he was preparing. That was the beginning.”
Have you held several different roles?
“At the beginning of the Spanish translation project, we had to organize every single step. We had to find a team of translators and editors. Since then, we have been working to improve the team. Now I make sure the team runs smoothly and achieves high quality standards.”
Can you sum up your current role?
“I coordinate the Spanish version of the Cochrane Library, La Biblioteca Cochrane Plus. My responsibility is to ensure Reviews are translated and published as quickly as possible, as well as some other documents. This means I help translators with technical issues and queries about vocabulary that arise along the way.”
What is the hardest part about your job?
“The main problem is that everything has to be done very quickly, we are always against the clock. Sometimes different types of problems crop up which we need to solve, but we still also need to keep working while we try to find solutions.”
As one of very few people who have read every Cochrane Review, can you tell us more about this?
“Some of the Reviews are very long. At the beginning of the translation project, and for some years after, we translated the entire Review. I prepared the translation, did some of the translation, and did the final editing before publication, so I ended up reading them two or three times! There were not very many of us so we had to work very hard. It’s better now that we don’t translate the whole Review. Also, at the beginning we did not have any translation software to help us.“
How do you define what Cochrane does, to those who don’t know us?
“We do our best to make the most reliable medical information available to others. In our case, to Spanish speakers, in an understandable way, so that they can correctly apply the information.”
How have things changed?
“At the beginning everything was very traditional. We did not even have translation software. To detect changes in a translation we used the compare function in word. Over the years we have changed, to now have a professional team, working with translation software.”
What is the best thing about working for Cochrane?
“The altruistic aim of the organization. We have a wonderful working team at Cochrane Iberoamérica, Dr Bonfill has been able to involve very compentent people in his team. We refer to each other as ‘cochranitos’ – good people who do their best to do a good job, and help each other out. It’s something you feel in your daily life. If you have a problem, of any kind, you can share it and we find a solution. That’s a really great characteristic of Dr Bonfill and the team.“
You’ve been at Cochrane for almost 20 years. Have you never been tempted to leave?
“The main reason for staying is because I love the team, and it is not easy to find this collaborative spirit elsewhere. Many people are here like my family, and we are doing something that is really worth doing.”
How important is Cochrane’s work for the global health community?
“It’s very important. Cochrane has become a reference of quality in health information. Not only for professionals, but for ordinary people.”
How important is Cochrane’s work in your personal experience?
“For me it has reinforced the conviction that working together in a different manner, to achieve altruistic objectives, gives great and profound satisfaction. I really love this feeling. I remember a relative of mine who had a health problem. She had doubt about it, and it was good to see she could access good information and decided what was best for her. I have seen this many times over the years.”
What makes you proud?
“The way we work at Cochrane is an excellent example that could be applied to many other disciplines. It shows how working together, instead of prioritizing egos, can have excellent results for communities. Also, the commitment of this organization to stay free of economic interests and so to be able to be critical of those who do not defend accurate, reliable, and ethical information; no matter if they are famous doctors, pharmaceutical companies, other industries, or even governments.”
How can Cochrane get better at what it does?
“The fact it has expanded in size could create issues. When we started, the team was smaller, and it was easier to handle. This is something I think about, how things should be organized as we grow in size."
Is there anything you’d like to say to the senior management team?
“Don’t forget about this collaborative spirit. Forget about individual egos. I’d also like to say thanks for all they have done over the years. Keep working so that good information is available for as many as people in the world as possible."
Thank you for your contribution and dedication, Salomé!
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