MedTranslate 2014: a review

MedTranslate 2014MedTranslate Conference took place just last weekend, 4-5 October, in Freiburg, Germany and I thought I’d write a review while it’s still fresh in my mind. It was organised by GxP Language Services and The Alexandria Library. There was a day of pre-conference workshops, given by Ed Zanders, Alessandra Martelli and Siegfried Armbruster. Over 100 delegates attended the main conference and there were 20 presentations. In terms of delegate profiles, apparently 60% of attendees were freelance translators and 40% were LSPs. Those are the facts and figures. Now for the content. Here’s a summary of five of the talks.

How to sell your translation services to an end-customer: the client’s perspective

keynote presentationJean-Baptiste Michon, Product Owner at Enovacom, a Healthcare Information Systems company, gave the keynote speech about what he looks for as a translation services’ customer. It was interesting to hear the story from an end customer’s point of view and how Jean-Baptiste chooses his translation partners. He got some stick for confessing to a room full of translators that he took care of basic translation stages himself, but then appeased his listeners by explaining that he was more interested in nurturing a long-term, quality partnership than using a low-budget, one-off translation job approach.

The legal kit for a medical translator

Ana Iaria, former lawyer and freelance translator, discussed the use of legalese in clinical trial agreements and how to tackle problems such as translating the binomials “null and void” and “last will and testament” into other languages. She recommended SparkCharts as a quick look-up resource for legal terminology. When discussing jurisdiction, Ana explained why many of the NDAs we sign as freelance translators are probably unenforceable.

Not an act but a habit

delegatesMaarten Milder, Translation Quality Specialist at Medtronic, gave a presentation on quality assurance. It was interesting to get a glimpse of how a company approaches this vital stage in the translation workflow. Medtronic uses a purpose-built system, which integrates the XTM translation editor and in-house TMs (translation memories). I wouldn’t like the idea of not being able to use my own TMs, but can understand how important controlled terminology is in proprietary products. Maarten discussed how errors are detected and corrected, depending on whether they are found at the pre- or post-market stage, and whether they are minor or critical. He also explained how they regularly assess translators and reviewers, and offer training and re-training for the software.

The Faculty

The facultySiegfried Armbruster, owner of GxP Language Services, introduced a new idea for setting up a medical translators’ directory. As an LSP, he explained how hard it is to find qualified medical translators, because of the limited nature of local directories available through national translators’ associations. He opened the debate to the floor, and several freelance translators agreed that it is similarly challenging to be found through these directories and elsewhere. I asked how translators would be vetted, and Siegfried suggested that the emphasis would be on keeping an up-to-date CPD record on a translator’s profile. There was a lengthy discussion of all the pros and cons of a new directory, which was interesting not only because of the subject itself, but also because it was a good opportunity to hear other translators’ voices and opinions.

Wikipedia and Healthcare Information

JacobThe conference ended with a fascinating talk by Jacob de Wolff, Founder of the WikiProject Medicine and Consultant Acute Physician, about “Wikipedia and Healthcare Information”. After explaining how Wikipedia began and grew, Jacob went on to discuss article quality, Wikipedia’s reality as the go-to place for patients, and the Medical Translation Project for translating top-importance medical articles. Another vital project is Wikipedia Zero, which provides Wikipedia free of charge to people in developing countries, where there is very limited access to information in other formats.

Other topics and networking

Other presentations over the weekend included topics that were more directly related to medical translations:  clinical trials, rare diseases, medical devices regulations, copy editing for research articles and corpus building. Medical interpreting only just got a foot in the door with one presentation on “Being a Young Medical Interpreter”.

The conference was a good opportunity to meet other medical translators. I particularly enjoyed discovering people I already “virtually” knew, and I can now put more faces to familiar names.

Anne Diamantidis was one person I was delighted to devirtualise. It was her expert coordination of the event, together with her contagious enthusiasm, never-ending energy and great sense of humour that made the event so enjoyable for everyone.

view from roomThe anecdote of the weekend was the flock of sheep that grazed right outside our hotel rooms. This made for a picturesque view (complete with the Black Forest as the backdrop), although the sheep were very vocal, baaing right through the first night. One delegate found that the best solution to this problem was to count sheep!

I’ve just spotted another review of MedTranslate by Katarzyna Slobodzian-Taylor on her blog at Mastermind Translations. Make sure you click through to read Kasia’s take on MedTranslate!

If you went to MedTranslate, please add a comment about what you particularly enjoyed. And see you in 2016!

Photo credits: @ADiamantidis
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8 Responses to MedTranslate 2014: a review

  1. Thank you for this detailed summary of the Conference. I really wanted to attend Ana’s session, but unfortunately it collided with my presentation. Thank you for including the details of what was discussed. My report is more general, and provides brief descriptions on the sessions I attended.

  2. Jason Willis-Lee says:

    Emma, thank you for this useful post. I took a good look at the programme and saw lots of relevant topics. I will certainly consider attending the next meeting. Saludos from Birmingham, Jason.

  3. Jayne Fox says:

    Thanks for sharing this summary, Emma! It’s interesting to see the reports from the conference. Imke Brodersen also wrote a review of the presentation on WikiProject Medicine, which you can read here (in German):

  4. Pingback: MedTranslate 2014: a review - Translation BUZZ

  5. Pingback: MedTranslate Conference 2014 | Carol Translates

  6. Nice wrap-up, Emma … and so nice to have had a chance to finally meet you!
    Cheers, Alessandra

  7. Thanks for the write-up. Of course, you didn’t cover your own presentation on EMA templates which, I am sure, was very helpful to many as well (I, for one, learned that I need to get more familiar with IntelliWebSearch). I also enjoyed the presentation by SDL’s Matthias Heyn that gave an inside view how translation is integrated into the writing and submission process when it comes to marketing approval of new documents.
    Another great presentation was that by Karen Leube on editing scholarly books and articles in English that were written by non-native speakers of English (and, I guess, also those written by native speakers). She presented many valuable resources and I really liked her handy hand-out that allowed us to take all these references home without having to take notes.

  8. Oops, and then I forgot one of my absolute favorites: Alessandra Martelli on writing/translating for patients. This is a topic I have a special interest in, and I can only say that she wrapped it up very nicely!

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