Machine translators usually work well for resource rich languages (German being one of them). Smaller or minority languages are usually much less covered and their speakers may have more problems. Also, there are some sectors of science that don't use English so heavily (imagine a linguist interested in a minority language, or a historian focused on a territory with no English influence).
Nevertheless, to get my MA, I needed to read a scientific book in English, and it was the previous millennium, and I guess the requirements are even more demanding nowadays.
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