The ESS 'source questionnaire' is designed in English and then translated into other languages needed at a national level. The process is overseen in each case by the respective National Coordinators. The role of the ESS Central Coordinating Team, and in particular the translation team, is to ensure that each of these nationally-organised translation efforts is informed by best practice to ensure that the different language versions of the source questionnaire are functionally equivalent.
The translation team is based at GESIS. Its primary task is to provide the necessary co-ordination, guidance and support to participating countries for this translation process. The team provides support materials for the key people involved in the translation process to encourage the use of a standard protocol and method of documentation.
The support materials provided for Round 5 contained the following documents:
- The source questionnaire with annotations defining terms and concepts that would otherwise prove difficult for translation
- General translation guidelines covering the following issues:
- Translation and assessment methodology (TRAPD)
- Selecting, training and briefing of translators
- Documentation of the translation process
- Deliverables for translation
- Translation quality checklist
In addition, a 'verification' process was carried out prior to Round 5 Fieldwork by an external agency. Verification was conducted on a small number of items from each translated questionnaire. A guidance document was provided to all national teams. This is an explanatory document that accompanied the Translation and Verification Follow-up Form (TVFF), which was designed to monitor translation, adaptation and verification history in ESS round 5. Both the guidance document and TVFF will be updated in time for Round 6.
The translation guidelines and quality checklist are regularly reviewed and adapted where necessary based on findings from previous rounds and research.