English title: Survey Questionnaire Translation and Assessment

Author(s): Janet A. Harkness - Beth-Ellen Pennell - Alisú Schoua-Glusberg -

Language: English

Type: Book chapter

Year: 2004

Abstract

Survey translation is too often seen as a rather simple affair, not calling for great expenditure of time, expertise, or other resources. In this chapter we aim to demonstrate the relevance of survey translation quality to data quality. It illustrates that translating and assessing questionnaires is a complex undertaking that calls for proven procedures and protocols and cross-disciplinary, crosscultural expertise. Procedures for testing and assessment that are standard requirements for monolingual survey instruments are, surprisingly, not required for translated questionnaires. We address this oversight by first discussing examples of linguistic and cultural challenges faced when trying to produce translations that maintain equivalence of measurement across languages. The outline of practices and procedures that follows highlights other issues (e.g., whether to translate, consequences of “close” translation practices, and dealing with multiple languages). In the following sections we describe translation, assessment, pretesting, and documentation procedures and discuss language harmonization procedures. Questionnaires are usually translated to interview populations that cannot be interviewed in the language(s) already available. In translation jargon, we speak of translating out of a source language into a target language. Consequently, questionnaires that serve as the text for translation are called here source questionnaires. Questionnaires are translated in three main contexts: for cross-national survey projects, for within-country research in countries with several official languages, and for projects in which it is necessary to include populations that do not speak the majority language of a given country. The need for translations in all three contexts is growing. At the same time, no commonly accepted set of standards and procedures has been established in the survey research community either for translating questionnaires or for assessing the quality of translations produced. The view advanced here is that quality assurance for translated questionnaires calls for both statistical analysis of questionnaire performance and textual analysis of translation quality.

From page no: 453

To page no: 473

Anthology: Methods for Testing and Evaluating Survey Questionnaires

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