MET workshops

Getting started in medical translation


Medical translation can be a daunting experience for the uninitiated and even those trained in biomedical fields report difficulties and pitfalls. An ideal medical translator should have the mind of a scientist and the eye of a linguist. When it comes down to it, however, medical translation is not much different from other types of nonliterary translation. You need to know what you’re looking for and you need to know where and how to look for it. Being familiar with the bigger picture behind a text will help you to find what you need and give you the confidence to translate what is being said and even critically question what both you and the author need to say.

In an effort to remove some of the mystery surrounding medical translation, I will share some of the basic concepts that I, as a translator without a science or medical background, have acquired on the job and through continuing professional development—but would have liked to have known when I started out in this field. The focus will be primarily on research articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals, but much of what we look at will be applicable to many types of texts. 

Facilitator: Anne Murray

Purpose: To provide beginners and less experienced medical translators with a picture of the main types of medical translation and present successful, focused research strategies for medical work and tips for delivering a quality job.

Description/structure: We will look at the challenges and complexities associated with the main types of medical translation in the Mediterranean market. We will then move onto the bigger picture surrounding the “medical text” and analyse some finer details that will help to point you in the right direction when you embark on your next or first medical translation. Our examination of the big picture will cover aspects such as how a drug reaches the market, the structure and processes of the health-care system, different types of studies and their contribution to evidence-based medicine, the importance of presenting information clearly and unambiguously, and publication processes and hurdles. We will also look at some successful research strategies, ways to improve your knowledge base, and general advice on how to stand out from the crowd.

Who should attend? Translators or scientists who have recently started out in medical translation or who would perhaps like to do so. More established but underworked, underpaid, or “undersatisfied” medical translators may also benefit from this workshop.

Outcomes: Participants should come away with a better idea of whether or not they may be suited to medical translation and enjoy it. They should also gain sufficient confidence to be able to tackle their first texts or, if already established, to be able to tackle their next texts with more tools and more confidence.

About the facilitator:

Anne Murray is a freelance translator and author’s editor based in Tarragona, Spain. She has a degree in translation and has been working as a full-time translator for about 14 years. She works mostly in the medical field but also does some work in pharmaceutics, general science, and a range of academic fields. She has a foundation certificate in medical writing from the European Medical Writers Association and is currently a member of the European Association of Science Editors. Anne can offer an interesting perspective on medical translation as she comes from a non-medical/science background.
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