Revision is a term much used but sometimes misunderstood within the translation and localization industry. Here, we examine definitions more closely, clarify what is meant by ‘revision’ in our daily work and address some of the questions raised by our customers and translation partners. We also refer you to a brief overview of one particular revision process, as conducted by an in-house team for one of our major clients.
Question 1: Checking, revision, review, proofreading – what’s the difference?
The terms ‘checking’, ‘revision’, ‘review’, and ‘proofreading’ are often used interchangeably by translators, project managers and customers working within the translation industry. This occasionally leads to confusion. ‘Revision’ is one of the mandatory translation process stages defined by the EN-15038 European standard for translation services, a standard to which SimulTrans has been certified since early 2009. One of the very many useful contributions this standard makes to the translation industry is that it clearly differentiates between the above terms and also specifies the particular 'professional competences' that translators, revisers and reviewers must possess to carry out the relevant tasks. It distinguishes between the terms as follows:
2.1. ‘Checking’ (sometimes called ‘self-revision’ in other sources) refers to the checks that every translator must carry out on his or her own work before delivery. This means checking the translation against the source text for any errors and implementing any amendments as necessary. It may include checking of pre-translated text, depending on the purchase order.
2.2 The ‘Revision’ task is defined by the EN-15038 standard as ‘Examine a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, compare the source (..) and target texts (..) and recommend corrective measures.’ An important requirement here is that ‘the reviser shall be a person other than the translator and have the appropriate competence in the source and target languages’. The ‘four-eye principle’, as it is also often called, is generally accepted as best practice for minimizing the risk of translation errors.
2.3. ‘Review’ is an optional step and refers to a check on the target text only. These monolingual reviews must be conducted by reviewers who are ‘domain specialists in the target language’.
2.4. ‘Proofreading’ is also an optional step within the certified process. The EN-15038 defines this step as "checking of proofs before publishing": More specifically, it involves reading a final draft of text to ensure that all surface errors have been eliminated and that no errors have been introduced during final formatting. This proofreading may be carried out by a translator or other native speaker, as part of the final DTP process.
Question 2: Who is more important: the translator or the reviser?
All SimulTrans translators and revisers are selected according to our rigorous qualification procedure. These professionals meet or exceed our minimum requirements in terms of industry experience, vocational qualifications and subject matter knowledge. On any translation project, both the translator and reviser play a crucial role in ensuring quality. However, a reviser can rarely salvage a project if the translator has delivered very poor quality. In this (fortunately rare) case, the project usually needs to be retranslated.
The initial translation stage generally accounts for the majority of the translation process in terms of scheduling and cost: the translator is responsible for ensuring that the content is complete and accurate, that terminology is correct and consistent, and that the style and register are appropriate. Revisers are charged with examining the translation for ‘its suitability for purpose’, according to the EN-15038-2006 standard. They usually focus on terminology consistency, register and style, but their attention may be directed to other aspects of quality if the project requires. Time spent on revision varies, depending on factors including initial translation quality, the text type and customer requirements. In practice, translators and revisers work closely together on SimulTrans projects: knowing who provided the initial translation helps the reviser judge how many changes will be required.
Question 3: Are four eyes always better than two?
Simply carrying out translation and revision, as prescribed by the EN-15038 standard, is in itself not a guarantee of translation quality. Other essential factors are:
- Translator/reviser selection
- Assigning the right combination of translator(s) and reviser(s) to a project
- Translator training – ensuring a feedback loop
- Planning and scheduling to allow sufficient time for translation, revision and other project steps
If revisers are not adequately trained or instructed, they may accidentally introduce errors into a translation or overlook specific customer guidelines. These are risks that are always borne in mind by the SimulTrans team of experienced project and vendor managers. Simply inviting two translators (‘four eyes’) to translate and revise a translation project is not enough to ensure top quality: the process must always be adapted to customers’ specific project requirements. This is where your SimulTrans project manager can help!
See the article ‘Four top tips for successful revision’ for a practical insight into the process. Please contact your SimulTrans account manager or email@example.com if you’d like to find out more about our customized approach to translation.