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In-Country Review (ICR): challenges and solutions

2023-02-09

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The translation process is much more complex than changing a text from one language to another. It can be comprised of various phases that ensure the project's good progress and the final quality of the translated text. In straightforward terms, the process includes five main steps, as shown in the following flowchart.

 

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Figure 1: Simplified flowchart of the translation process

Today, we will focus on one of the final stages of this process, the "In-Country Review" (ICR), or review by a local specialist.

 

What is ICR?

ICR is one of the final stages of the workflow following translation, review and QA, and immediately preceding publication. In this phase, which validates the entire process until this point, a specialist from the local market evaluates the target text and gives feedback on its content. The ideal expert for this task should have extensive knowledge of the text's subject matter. It could be an employee of the company requesting the translation or a reputable outside specialist who is a native speaker of the target language and proficient in the source text language. The expert should be a professional in the field of knowledge of the text, rather than just a professional translator, to ensure that the specific terms and the text as a whole are suitable for the target audience.

 

What is the scope of ICR?

ICR should focus on fine-tuning the finished text to ensure its quality, the suitability of its terminology and compliance with local regulations. Note in the above flowchart that this stage occurs after several preliminary phases encompassing linguistic and compliance checks. Therefore, the text given to the specialist is expected to have high overall quality. ICR should evaluate the content more comprehensively rather than focusing on minor details and preferential changes.

The specialist should focus on areas of improvement that significantly impact the context presented, such as replacing terms and expressions that may be confusing for not being the most commonly used in that field or at the specific company or which are incorrect for the subject matter. In addition, being knowledgeable about the audience which will consume the content, the specialist should make improvements in terms of the complexity of the language. Such modifications are expected to be minimal if the instructions and reference materials provided for the translation have been appropriately followed.

Furthermore, the specialist must avoid changes involving personal style and writing preferences at all costs since this is not the focus of this stage of the process.

 

How to collaborate to get the best results?

ICR can become a bottleneck when not planned or delineated in the translation process. As a professional in the field of knowledge, the individual in charge of ICR has other responsibilities, and his/her available time for linguistic tasks may be minimal. It is imperative to set clear goals for ICR from the very outset of the process, guaranteeing that everyone who will work on the project, including the individual in charge of ICR, is aware of the scope of their work to avoid overlapping tasks, inevitably resulting in unnecessary rework.

When possible, it is critical for the individual in charge of ICR to be involved in the project from the time of its conception, which will ultimately simplify the final ICR. Suppose the specialist is aware and helps to establish the project's prerequisites, consolidate reference materials and proactively participate in creating a glossary. In that case, there is a good chance that the final product of the translation process will only need sporadic adjustments in the final ICR stage.

This need for the early involvement of the specialist (who, as previously noted, has little time available for linguistic tasks) may seem contradictory. A specialist who was involved in the early stages of the project, including approving materials and the glossary, will have a better understanding of the workflow. This results in the ability to more efficiently identify what should be changed or left unchanged in the ICR, leading to a more objective and faster review process. Doing so avoids multiple rework cycles and communication between the translator and specialist.

Finally, suppose the ICR finds lots of fundamental linguistic problems. In that case, this suggests that the process of translation, review and QA should be reassessed since the text should arrive in a "publication-ready" status at this stage.

 

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Tips for good ICR

  • In the first phase, establish and clarify the ICR's goals and scope;
  • Create a glossary and a style guide with the help/approval of the specialist before starting the translation;
  • Fully define the type of content and deadlines for the activity;
  • Ensure alignment between what should be evaluated and how to make essential changes;
  • Ensure the availability and participation of the specialist;
  • Keep in mind that the translation should be consistent with the text in the source language (no new content is expected in this process);
  • Avoid changing previously approved glossary terms as much as possible;
  • Avoid making preferential changes;
  • Avoid changes that contradict glossaries and other previously approved reference materials;
  • Perform ICR on a large translation sample in the initial project phase for extensive projects. Early feedback will help streamline the language used.

 

Review by a specialist, when properly planned, can enhance the quality and suitability of the final text. However, any failure to align the specialist's expectations with other stages of the translation process can increase the time and costs associated with the process without the final proportional benefits. To avoid bottlenecks in the process, it is essential to include this professional from the very outset of the project and to set goals for the ICR phase.

In short, a successful ICR generates few required changes but checks and fixes critical details.

 

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