Having your translation project reviewed by a qualified in-country reviewer is a great idea in many cases, especially where your material is aimed at a specialized audience or industry. Even the best professional translators may not know everything about your particular field, so a final review might be recommended.

But without the proper planning and reviewer selection, the review process can delay your project and frustrate everyone involved.

The following three steps are crucial to the success of the in-country review:

Flowchart of in country review

Click to see full size chart

1. Choose the right reviewer

The best reviewer is someone with a linguistic background, industry knowledge, review experience, and adequate time to complete the review within the project time frame. It may not be possible to locate someone who fits all these criteria, but any reviewer should, at the least:

  • have strong language skills in both the source and the target language (the ability to write well in the target language is critical);
  • have knowledge of industry terminology; and
  • be able to devote sufficient time to complete the review within the planned time-frame.

It is strongly recommended that the reviewer be a native speaker of the target language. Simply being a native speaker of the target language does not qualify a staff member to review a translation, especially if he or she is in a different department or role. Knowledge of the subject matter is absolutely necessary.

For example, an in-country sales team might review marketing material, or an on-site engineer might review translated technical material.

2. Engage the reviewer from the very start

If reviewers have contributed to both the scheduling and the content, it’s more likely they’ll provide positive reviews in a timely manner. Since reviewers generally are employees, distributors, or others with specific jobs, it is important to work with your language services partner to develop a schedule for the project, including those portions involving the in-country reviewer. That way your reviewers can make room in their own schedules to accommodate this extra work and advise you if they have any conflicts that might cause problems.

With respect to the content, getting the reviewer’s input prior to translation can save time and effort.  Have reviewers review and validate the glossary or termbase and the style guide, when appropriate, to ensure the right specialized terminology is used. Preparing a glossary beforehand, with the involvement of the in-country reviewer, will give guidance to the translator and prevent the need for corrections later on in the process.

3. Clarify the reviewer’s role

It is common for reviewers to attempt to impose their own style or even to try to rewrite the translation. Rather than focusing on substantive errors, a reviewer might subconsciously (or consciously) want to demonstrate their own dedication and writing skills by “making it better.” This causes more problems than it solves. Keep in mind that every change made by your reviewer will need to be vetted by the original translator, and this is a waste of time if the changes are only matters of personal taste. In fact, re-writing increases the risk of new errors being introduced.

By the time the translation reaches the reviewer it has been carefully proofread and spell-checked by a native speaker of the target language. It does not need a proofreader or an editor. Your reviewer should be explicitly instructed to focus their attention on the accuracy of industry terminology and the acceptability of the overall style from the point of view of the intended customer (for example, is it too informal? too formal?). Any true mistakes that the proofreader missed, such as typos or grammatical errors, should be flagged, but the reviewer should be reviewing it from the perspective of an expert in the field, not a writer or editor.

For more information, see our detailed guidelines for negotiating the in-country review process.

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