Check and review in medical translation
To improve the quality of medical translation, a translation verification process can be developed. This would include the preparation of a preliminary translation and analysis of the source text, its actual translation and a multi-step verification of the target text. The verification process should not only include error detection, but also agreements and requirements for the various types of texts and functions that they carry, including readability and clarity.
The translation agency offers the following steps in the translation process. First, the final version of the source text should be prepared. It is extremely important that the source code be ‘final’, as this will reduce the risk of errors or ambiguity in the target text. It is also necessary that the medical source code be devoid of figurative language and ambiguity. It should be neutral with respect to culture, with the exception of documents addressed to certain readers, for example, the age group or intended for a specific purpose, for example, educational. Therefore, the preliminary translation process should ideally be designed to send the final version of the source text to a translator.
The next step in the translation process is the translator’s familiarization with the assignment. The medical translator reads the text and decides whether he is qualified to translate the text. Medical translation must be performed accurately, naturally and correctly in terms of language use, syntax, grammar, spelling and terminology.
Finally, the target text is checked: the translated document is reviewed and edited by another professional who ideally should have more expert knowledge of the subject area and be more experienced than the translator. Sometimes, medical translation is adjusted by a third party. Both reviews and verification should be done by carefully comparing the two language versions.
The model of the translation process with multi-stage verification by two professionals guarantees sufficient measures for quality assurance. However, this is not economical and can take a lot of time. This may mean that another condition for improving the quality of medical translation is the education of the client. Another crucial aspect of quality assurance is the agreement on realistic deadlines and budgets. Obviously, if the text is to be translated and then checked by two professionals, the budget and deadline should be consistent with a consideration of the real time and money needed to perform all tasks involved in the translation and editing process.
The above multi-stage verification model for medical translation is one of several solutions developed for quality assurance. A popular method of reviewing a translation is a reverse translation, i.e. translate the target text ‘back’ into the source language. It is important that the reverse translations be provided by an independent translator who did not handle the original ‘advanced’ translation of the text.
Many language experts are discouraging the use of reverse translation as a method for verification for the reason that it could not show the contextual output language and nuances of use. If the text is translated literally by the first translator, its reverse translation may seem adequate. What can also appear, since inaccurate performance in reverse translation is often an adaptation made by a translator that fully conveys the meaning of the source material, but is lost in the reverse translation. However, the method of reverse translation is often used to check the accuracy of the translation.
The method of reverse translation is widely used in the medical research and clinical trials sector, as this is required by regulatory authorities in many countries. But we can not mean that the only purpose of a reverse translation is to meet formal requirements. If it is professionally handled, it is an effective error detection tool.
Another step of the verification model – parallel translations, also makes up a separate survey method. Two professionals translate the source material at the same time, and a third person (or one of the translators) compares the two versions and makes all the necessary adjustments. As a result, the final target text is the compilation of large parts of two parallel translations. This method also generates additional costs, but in this case the additional cost has a much more direct and positive effect on the quality of the final document than in the case of a reverse translation.
The procedures described above guarantee sufficient help in achieving the quality of the translation and help to avoid mistakes that can cause clinical consequences are not always implemented. In fact, translators acknowledge that their work is rarely checked, which means that they assume exclusive responsibility for the quality of their translation. It is worth noting that the translators themselves are also responsible for assessing whether their level of competence is sufficient for a specific translation task. We can not forget that the first step in verifying the translation is the ‘final eye’, i.e. own editing of the translator just before the text is considered ready. This requires a translator, the ability to critically treat his own work.