METM14 presentation

Post-translation editing: a quantitative analysis from a bilingual medical journal

Elke Bartholomäus, Cologne, Germany

Background: Deutsches Ärzteblatt, the official journal of the German Medical Association, has been published bilingually in German and English since 2006. Translation quality is assured by using a carefully selected team of freelance native English translators with strong medical backgrounds, quality control performed by a bilingual inhouse language editor, as well as close collaboration with our authors. The aim of the present evaluation is to elucidate the amount of post-translation editing necessary either at the inhouse proofreading stage or due to author’s alterations at the proof stage.

Methods: Retrospective, quantitative analysis of randomly selected manuscripts with regard to the extent of translation revision due to either inhouse editing or authors’ alterations in galley proofs. The results will be classified according to categories of type of alteration. In addition, we will evaluate how often errors spotted in the original German by translators during translation ultimately led to improvements or necessitated errata in the German version.

Results and conclusion: Subjective experience indicates that the extent of post-translation editing may vary greatly between manuscripts, as well as from one author to another. Part of the reasons for this may be due to different levels of difficulty between manuscripts, translators’ experience, or differences in author personality. We hope that on the basis of quantitative data we will be able to gain more objective insight into the amount of post-translation editing and the categories of changes made to translated manuscripts.

Elke Bartholomäus is the production editor and translations project manager at Deutsches Ärzteblatt International – the German Medical Association’s English-language scientific journal. She holds an MA in art history, literature and philosophy from the German University of Cologne and spent several years working and researching in the US. Elke is a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) and has been a member of MET since 2008.