How to Source the Perfect R&D Academic Translator

Find the Best Translator For Your Needs

English dictionary's definition of 'dictionary'

When you work in research and development (R&D), you tend to invest a lot of yourself in the projects that you are assigned. The nature of your job is to continually be finding new and better ways of doing things. Stanley Black & Decker, for example, noticed that customers at construction sites were using extension cords or gasoline generators to provide the higher voltage needed for some of their miter saws and table saws, leaving cables trailing across the site and creating a trip hazard. They threw themselves into finding a solution and came up with the FlexVolt range of cordless power tools and battery packs. Their efforts meant safer construction sites that generated less noise pollution, along with $300 million in incremental sales.

When it comes to using professional academic translation services, you should look for a service that will provide you accurate and culturally sensitive translations. However, finding an experienced R&D translator is not easy. There are plenty of excellent translators who keep their skills up to date with the latest knowledge and resources, whether through the latest translation blog or the most advanced computer-assisted translation tools. However, just because someone can provide accurate French to English translations on generic texts does not necessarily mean they are suited to work on technical texts that generally typify the R&D industry.

If you feel lost, rest assured that help is close at hand. Let us walk you through the process of finding a translator with the right expertise for your R&D project.

What makes translation for R&D companies unique?

When it comes to translation, R&D clients need to be confident that they have access to the right level of technical knowledge. This generally means finding a translator who is familiar with their particular industry or sector and who has a history of working on technical and scientific translations. R&D companies often need considerable scientific and technical knowledge from their translators.  They need to deliver accurate translations that clearly deliver an accurate rendition of the original in a form that can be easily accessed by the target audience. There’s no room for ambiguity and no room for mistakes (and certainly no room for the inaccuracies of machine translation!).

Freelancer v. Translation Agency: Who is the best fit to provide translation services to R&D companies?

For those looking to hire a language professional, there are various options available, from using individual freelancer translators to working with translation companies whose services span the globe.

So, which do you need? Both freelance translators and translation agencies have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. If you use a freelance translator, you know exactly who you are working with, including their skills and experience (whereas an agency can appoint anyone they see fit to work on your document). For long-term arrangements, the freelancer will get to know your company and products inside out, thus potentially speeding up the translation process (an agency could assign a different translator each time). Freelancers can also cost less, as they usually have fewer overheads than agencies.

Agencies, meanwhile, tend to have a network of translation professionals at their fingertips so that they can quickly access different language pairings and different skill sets. They have in-house systems that mean they usually have to charge more than freelancers, but can also provide additional services, such as 24/7 support and quality control.

Look for agencies that can demonstrate their technical translation expertise in your specific field and languages, as well as agencies that have garnered plenty of positive reviews online.

Why not use machine translation?

We mentioned machine translation services above, so let’s discuss that direction. Machine translation refers to the use of computer software to undertake a translation automatically. It has been around since the 1950s, but successive generations have failed to master it due to the vast complexity of language. Machine translations tend to translate words literally, without the finesse and nuance that human translators can achieve. Ask Google Translate what a ‘paper jam’ is in Spanish and it may tell you it’s a ‘mermelada de papel,’ using the word for the kind of jam that’s made from fruit and comes in a jar.

If you need to quickly look up a single word in another language or try to translate a phrase that you’ve read, it may well suffice. If you are after a professional translation for a technical document, you will want to use a professional (human) translator.

With machine translation, there is also the issue of confidentiality to consider. There have been cases of confidential information becoming available online as a result of people using free translation services. If you want to keep your R&D breakthroughs out of the public eye, don’t upload them to the internet!

How to work with a professional translator

Whether you engage an R&D translator through a professional translation agency or track down the perfect freelancer, there are certain steps that you can take to ensure the success of the translation project.

First, be clear with the translator on who the intended audience is. It is also important to brief the translator fully. The more they know about the history of your project and/or company, the easier it will be for them to translate quickly and accurately.

Finally, be prepared for queries. Language can often be tricky, so expect your translator to raise a few points for further discussion.

How much do professional translation services cost?

How much you pay for translation services will depend on the language pairing that you need, as well as any additional services that you use. Urgent and certified translation services, for example, may cost a little more.

Rates can vary hugely between translation companies and between freelancers. If you’re looking to hire a translator for your R&D project, therefore, be sure to obtain several quotes before you go ahead with the translation, in addition to doing your homework by reading reviews of the freelancer or translation agency in question and looking into their specific experience of R&D translation.

Receive an individualized quote!