Some clients require an internal review of external translation work before the approval of a project. This is a good step, however if one key component is missing the review will actually decrease the quality of the final translation.

The reviewer must have a deep knowledge of the topic. This is essential, not optional.

I know this seems trite. Why wouldn’t the reviewer have knowledge of the topic? After all, the client has made their choice based on the ability of the reviewer to add value to the translation right?

Oddly enough this is often not the case. Far too often clients will choose their reviewers based on language ability alone. Here is a good way of thinking about this. Let’s pretend you are a technical writer and you need input on a technical specification. Let’s also say you you have two choices within your organization for help. Would you choose an engineer that worked on the product or someone from the accounts payable team? I would guess most of you would choose the engineer.

Why is this discussion not applicable to translation? More often than not, internal reviewers are not properly vetted or screened to evaluate technical translation. Typically clients are very diligent about making sure that authors of their content are properly qualified. The same level of diligence should be used for reviewers (of course translators too!) .

We recently handled a technical project that required approval by the client. When we received the markup the reviewer asked what ETO (ethylene oxide) and DOP (Dioctyl phthalate) were? Since the document was technical in nature we would have hoped that the reviewer could add some value during the review phase. The fact that she did not understand two very common chemical names key to the client’s technical specifications disqualified her as a qualified reviewer of the document.

The client review process should add value to the process not detract from it. Please choose your reviewers carefully. If the client reviewer is qualified he or she will be a valuable part of the work flow.

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