A case study of improving and evaluating consumer survey translation

Mandy Sha, Jennie Lai


The inherent challenge of managing the translation of multilingual materials for global research is to develop a systematic translation process considering the varying translation expertise and resources available locally. In the United States, consumer survey materials are typically first designed in English (the source language) and then translated into the target language(s) with culture-specific tailoring for markets outside of the United States.  In an effort to standardize the translation method globally, three experimental approaches were developed to assess the quality of translation tailoring as a function of the varying resources of expertise and tools available in the local markets. These three approaches involved different translator qualifications: a centralized professional translation service within a large company headquartered in the United States, a local professional translation service, and a company employee who is a native speaker and familiar with consumer surveys.  In addition, a toolkit of translation reference materials (including translation validation form, translation input document, terminology bank and/or step-by-step translation procedures) was developed and tailored to the qualification of the translators. The experiment followed the standardized approach of Translation, Review, Adjudication, Pretesting, and Documentation (TRAPD) developed for survey research, and the translation output is evaluated based on the toolkit provided in addition to expertise and resources available for translation and review locally. The face-to-face recruitment materials of a large consumer panel survey in China were used for evaluation of the proposed translation methods from English to Chinese. For each approach, we conducted a review of translation quality based on a qualitative evaluation through a small number of one-on-one interviews in China and a quantitative evaluation of scoring the translation by assigning issue codes that were designed using sociolinguistics principles. This paper will discuss one of the three translation approaches (using a centralized professional translation service), describe the lessons learned therefrom, and share recommendations for adapting and implementing translation standards as well as areas for future research.


translation, cross-cultural, consumer surveys

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