Services | 25.09.2009

Find the right translation services partner for your clinical trials documentation

Choosing the right translation services partner for your clinical trial requires careful forethought. For this highly specialist service, it is advisable to look for companies with proven expertise in the sector, who only use native speakers to perform translation. Membership of a recognised industry body – for example, the Association of Translation Companies – is a good indicator of quality, as is use of state-of-the-art computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, such as the SDL Trados translation memory system.

Most importantly, it is important to be sure that partners can access individual translators who are qualified experts in the specific medical field of your trial. This detailed medical knowledge is as important as the language skills of the translator, as it will enable them to spot any medical errors in a text and produce the most accurate and effective translation. Generalist medical translators simply cannot provide this level of service, and you risk inaccuracies if you do not find a properly qualified expert.

There are a number of ways in which you can choose and validate your translation partner. Researching companies ‘websites can be an invaluable starting point. However a website alone is not enough to rely on – always take the time to speak to the company directly and question them in more detail about their experience. Ideally, you should also ask to speak to other pharmaceutical customers they have worked with.

As in all areas of business, word of mouth recommendation is a very powerful and helpful way to locate a new supplier, so do tap into your network of peers for their experiences. Once you have identified potential partners, consider asking them to produce a test translation for you. This can be an excellent way to establish the quality of a company’s work, as well as helping you to decide whether you will be able to work well with them.

Don’t get lost in translation

Here are five key points to successful translation in clinical trials:

  1. Plan early – make sure you factor in translation requirements right at the beginning of the process
  2. Choose the right partner – be sure your supplier has the specific medical knowledge and language skills, and a proven track record
  3. Be rigorous – for critical documents, consider performing two sets of back-translation for extra peace of mind
  4. Be sensitive – let your translation partner guide you on local and cultural differences that may affect your research
  5. Look at the big picture – a good translation partner can translate words in situ within your chosen design or format

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