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Step-by-step Guide for the Back Translation Review Process  



Back translations are an important part of the quality assurance procedures when medical texts are translated. The process of back translating texts consists of a set of specific steps meant to assure optimal detection of potentially dangerous errors. 


The first step is, naturally, to extract the content to be translated from its original format and translate it into the required language. A clinical trial to be held in India, for instance, may involve documents to be translated from an English original into, say, Bengali. 


In this case, the source language is English, while Bengali is the target language. The process of this initial translation is generally known as the forwarding translation. 


There are times when a committee requires what is typically referred to as a double forwarding translation. Essentially, the same content is translated by two separate translators independently from one another. A combination of the best parts of these translations is then used as the version to be worked with. 


This version is then handed to another translator to be translated back into the initial source language, which in this case would be English. This translator will have no knowledge whatsoever of the contents of the original text, in order to ensure he or she is not in any way influenced by what they think should be there. 


This translator will, by the way, be a native English speaking individual who is also fluent in Bengali (or whatever other language the text may have been translated into). 


This back translation is then handed to a project manager, who will compare it sentence by sentence to the original document. He will record his comparisons and any discrepancies in a grid containing a column for the original text, a column each for the translated and back translated texts and a review comments column. 


Each row of the text is entered and compared, with any discrepancies worth re-checking being noted in the comments column. The results of this comparison will then have to be discussed with the translators in order to determine whether the differences will require a change. 


For instance, the original content may have used the term 'name of investigator', while the back translation resulted in the term being 'name of doctor'. In this case, a change may be required, as the investigator in question may not necessarily be a doctor and the patient may be confused by the terms used.  


Whether it will need changing depends on whether the term was translated wrongly into Bengali or back again, or whether it actually makes no difference because there may be no different word for 'investigator' in Bengali and the term 'doctor' is used in either case. 


By responding to the query below the question, the translator can assist in determining if a change is required. Once all such queries have been answered and necessary changes have been made, a second back translation will follow, again to be checked in this manner until all rows are left without major discrepancies. 

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