For Student Researchers: Three Ways To Go About Having Your Informed Consent Forms Translated


Conducting your first student research project can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Faculty advisers are there to offer guidance and assistance, but they often step back and let you do most of the work since this is how you'll learn about the research process most effectively. One of the first hurdles you may come across is the need to translate your informed consent forms into languages other than English. This is a very important step if the population you're researching does not speak English fluently. You need to be sure they are fully informed as to how the information you collect from them will be used.

Unless you happen to be bilingual, you'll have to rely on someone else to translate your informed consent documents. And as a student, you must usually find a way to do this on a tight budget. Here are four ways you might approach this challenge.

Hire a Translation Service

There are companies that will translate any short document for you for a set fee. Usually, they employ a few translators, and one of them will be assigned to your project. This strategy may be best if your informed consent document is highly detailed and has a lot of very specific information that you need to ensure is conveyed to your reader with 100 percent accuracy. For example, if you are collecting participants' DNA for research, there are a lot of legal issues at stake, and it may be worthwhile to pay a translation service to ensure you don't get into any hot water by failing to translate language required for these purposes correctly.

If you're struggling to find a translation company in your area, head to your campus library. They should be able to give you some names of companies other students have used.

Use a Free Translation Service and Have a Friend Check It Over

Do you have a friend who speaks this second language fluently? You could ask them to translate for you in exchange for a small fee, but if you think that will be too much work for them, there is an easier way. Copy your informed consent text into a free online translation service. Then, print out the results, and ask your friend to just look it over. Chances are, there will be a few spots where the online translation service translated words confusingly. Your friend can point these out and you can tell them what the sentence in question really should say, and they can tell you how to change it. 

Make the changes, and then have your friend have one final read-through of your "finished" translation. Let them read the English copy, too, so they can ensure the document says the same thing in both languages.

This approach is probably best reserved for instances in which your informed consent is pretty simple. For example, if you're running an experiment that involves having people look at different packaging and recording which products they think look best, you don't have a lot of sensitive information to protect or liability to deal with.

Have a Translator Explain the Document to Non-English Speakers

If you will only have a couple of participants who do not speak English fluently, consider just hiring a translator for an hour or two. When these participants show up to the experiment, you can have your translator explain to them, in words, what the English version of the informed consent document they are signing says. Once again, this protocol is only a good idea in rather "harmless" research projects. If you are collecting DNA or doing anything risky, you want to make sure the participants can actually read what they are signing.

Contact a company like Executive Linguist Agency to learn more about translation options.


2 August 2017

the different cultures of the world

How much do your kids know about cultures outside of their own? My son came home from Sunday school asking me all kinds of questions about the American Indian culture and I could only answer a few of his questions. After that day, we have spent a little time each week learning about different cultures around the world. We created this blog together to help other people learn about the many different cultures that can be found today and from years past. Hopefully, our search for information and the creation of our blog can help you find what you want to know about the different cultures of the world.