"The expanding global market for pharmaceuticals requires drug companies to translate their product information, labels, informed consent forms, and other printed material into various languages in order to be understood by end users. Translation is viewed as an art rather than a science; a subjective process in which there is no “right” answer. While there are exams and qualifications that can be taken and acquired, there is no “plug and play” at the end of the translation process in which the translation can be validated against its original source.
As a result, more pharmaceutical companies are turning to “back translation” as a secondary step. Back translation is the translation of an already-translated text back into its original language. It is performed, as with the forward translation, by a professional translator. The back-translator does not have access to the source text.
Clinical trial managers and other project and product managers use the completed back translation to validate original translation by comparing the back translation and source and looking for discrepancies in the text. While this would seem on a basic level to be a good way to judge the quality of the original translation, it is not always the case. Since translation is so subjective, those reviewing translations must be aware of the potential pitfalls in this process."