3 Essentials for Linguistic Validation in Life Science Translation Projects

This article was originally posted on the Wordbee blog. Wordbee are the makers of the translation management system and CAT tool for translators.

LQA (Language Quality Assessment) is an important step within any translation and localization workflow, but it is a vital step when it comes to the life science and health sectors. In this case, it is labeled as linguistic validation and it consists of investigating the reliability, conceptual equivalence, and content validity of translations of patient-reported outcome measures. Translation of information about medical devices, treatment drugs, vaccines and more, must be carefully validated to make sure that it is correct and, most importantly, that consumers can fully understand it.

In clinical trials that take place in various countries, involving people of different social and cultural status, the relevant documentation is translated in many languages. For the very large number and variety of stakeholders (specialists, patients, consultants, researchers, medical translators), linguistic validation can prove a challenge. 

So, how do you make your translation and linguistic validation process for medical information as efficient as possible? Here are three prerequisites to follow.


Automation is key to save time and money.

You should automate all the repetitive tasks as much as possible and make your translation request process faster and leaner. Tasks that can be automated in a translation management system are, for example, quoting, invoicing, content parsing, translation memory and termbase section, and vendor selection based on various criteria.

With a solid translation management system, automation will lead to reduced production time and cost, and, most importantly, a customized and efficient translation workflow.  

Customized Workflows

The translation workflow for the life science and health sector differs in part from the more conventional translation processes and it includes two important steps: back translation and reconciliation.

Back translation

Back translation consists in re-translating a translated document from the target language to the source language. This step is necessary to verify that the translated text is similar to the source text and that no errors or ambiguities have arisen in the translation process.


Reconciliation consists  in comparing the original source text with the back translation to look for discrepancies or unclear portions of text. 

If during the reconciliation step you find inconsistencies in the text, you must have a new translator make a new translation of the original text into the target language redo the back translation, and repeat this until you get a flawless translation. 

Your customized workflow can be as simple or as complex as necessary. 

For example, you could create a three-step workflow:

  1. Translation of the document by one translator, followed by
  2. Back translation done by a second translator and
  3. A back translation analysis done by a reviewer or a SME to identify problems, misunderstandings, mistranslation, adherence to the source text and so on.

more complex workflow could include:

  1. Translation done by two different translators (in this case, the translators shouldn’t see each other’s work);
  2. Consolidation, i.e. a comparison of both translations to select the best translation for each segment and create a consolidated version;
  3. Back translation done by a third translation; and
  4. Reconciliation to smooth out any inconsistencies that are left. 

Tracking and reporting

Another essential step is setting up a solid process that guarantees correct and timely communication. Think, for example, of query management policies: Who is in charge of answering questions or remarks? How do you track all questions and answers and make them available to the whole team?

Through tracking and reporting functionalities you can document change history within the whole process as well as explain to all stakeholders any changes, comments or queries. Make sure you can generate reports in a seamless way, for example as an Excel or CSV file, and send it as a deliverable to your team (for a post-production evaluation) and to your client.


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