If you want your research to be widely read, then publishing in more than one language is essential. But you’ve undoubtedly invested a lot of time in your work. It’s natural to worry that your efforts could be “lost in translation.” We’re here to set your mind at ease with these nine translation tips for scholars to ensure your research article is accurately translated.
Use the European Association of Science Editors translation tips for scholars.
According to the European Association of Science Editors (EASE):
“To make international scientific communication more efficient, research articles and other scientific publications should be COMPLETE, CONCISE, and CLEAR.”
We couldn’t agree more! These guidelines are not limited to the hard sciences- they apply to other disciplines as well!
The more clear and precise the language used in the original document is, the easier it will be for your translator to deliver an accurate translation.
Here’s why: Many people think that translation is a simple matter of substituting one word for another. It’s usually more complicated than that. Your translator needs to be able to understand the ideas you’re communicating so that they can decide the best way to communicate them in the target language.
If your document is unclear, the translation might not be accurate. Some linguistic choices can also make it harder to translate your text accurately. For example, figures of speech, idioms and puns often don’t translate precisely into another language.
Proper structure and formatting also assist readers of all types (including translators) to accurately understand your work.
Send your translator a complete final draft to work with.
Remember, translation is already a complex task. Even if you’re working on a deadline, it’s best to wait until your article is finalised before sending it to be translated. Having to incorporate changes in multiple languages increases the risk that something will be overlooked during the publication process.
Look for translators who are familiar with your field of study.
Different academic fields use different terminology. And they often use words differently than they are used in everyday writing and speech. A translator who’s familiar with the terminology in your area of study will be better equipped to choose equivalent words or phrases in the target language.
Provide an accurate, detailed translation brief.
“Translation brief” is simply the set of instructions you provide with your translation request. Make sure your brief is accurate and detailed. If you’re not sure if you’ve given enough information, don’t be afraid to ask your translation partner.
Provide glossaries and other resources for common terms in your field.
To reduce the chance of misunderstandings, it helps to provide a list of the key terms and ideas that need to be conveyed. Glossaries and other terminology resources reduce ambiguity during the translation process. This will help your translator get your research article’s meaning across more clearly and accurately in the target language.
Clarify your target audience.
Are you writing for a specialist or non-specialist readership? Communication is a two-way street. Your translator or language services provider must know not only what you’re trying to say, but who you’re trying to say it to.
Consider, for example, how often scientific research gets misinterpreted in mainstream publications even when everyone shares a language and a culture!
Don’t overlook images.
If your article contains images, especially complex images like charts or graphs, these also require translation. Here again, the process is rarely as straightforward as it seems at first glance.
That’s because different languages use different amounts of text to say the same thing. So your images may need to be reformatted or redesigned for clarity’s sake. Additionally, if your native language is read from left to right but your target language is right-to-left, that also needs to be taken into account!
With that in mind, make sure you send images along with the text in an editable format. Using a translator or LSP who is familiar with design and desktop publishing is also advisable.
Ask about the quality assurance process.
Quality assurance is the key to ensuring an accurate final product.
In translation, the quality assurance process is very similar to what happens in publishing. This often includes a proofreading and editing stage where your translation will be reviewed by another person or set of eyes before being passed on to you for approval.
This gives both parties a chance to highlight any areas that might need further clarification before publication.
Our number one translation tip for scholars: Choose a trusted translation partner.
Here’s your best bet to ensure accuracy: Work with a language services provider with a strong track record in translating academic research.
Not only will they be able to match you with a linguist with the right background for your project, but they also have quality control procedures in place to catch errors before publication.
At K International, our team is here to help translate your research accurately into over 250 languages. Our team is experienced in translating research from a variety of fields and disciplines, including clinical trials, medical journals, pharmaceutical research and so much more. For details, contact us!