Back translation as a documentation tool


  • Jiyoung Son Independent Researcher


back translation, documentation, questionnaire translation


Using back translation as a quality assessment tool in multilingual survey research is now deemed obsolete or on its way to becoming so, although it is still widely practiced. This paper will argue that back translation may be still useful as a documentation tool, not as a quality control tool. To support this premise, a review of literature that uses back translation to illustrate inevitable differences between the source and the target text is provided. This paper proposes a baseline for using back translation as a documentation tool, using examples of “good” and “bad” back translations. The value of using back translation is further demonstrated using examples from recent studies that integrated back translation into their documentation. This less-discussed use of back translation in questionnaire translation methodology merits the attention of translators and researchers. Although the utility of back translation as a quality control tool is deemed obsolete, it still has the potential for useful application as a documentation tool.