Answer a questionnaire
Thread poster: Helena Grahn

Helena Grahn  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:43
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jul 19, 2011

I have been given a long medical document and a questionnaire about this text. I translated the document and delivered. The client insisted that I answered the questionnaire with questions about the nature of the patient's illness. I said that the client could do it himself by reading the document but I did that anyway. The client only wants to pay for the amount of words in the answers of the questionnaire and said that was specified in the instructions. I replied that was something I understood to be done on top of the translation of the whole document. The client differs. Now I replied that I am not up for that type of assignment as I consider that a cheap way of using a translator. The client has to pay for the translation in order to find out the answers he needs.

Has anyone been asked to do this before?

[Edited at 2011-07-19 11:58 GMT]


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:43
German to English
+ ...
It is not clear Jul 19, 2011

Helena Grahn wrote:

I have been given a long medical document and a questionnaire about this text. I translated the document and delivered. The client insisted that I answered the questionnaire with questions about the nature of the patient's illness. I said that the client could do it himself by reading the document but I did that anyway. The client only wants to pay for the amount of words in the answers of the questionnaire and said that was specified in the instructions. I replied that was something I understood to be done on top of the translation of the whole document. The client differs. Now I replied that I am not up for that type of assignment as I consider that a cheap way of using a translator. The client has to pay for the translation in order to find out the answers he needs.

Has anyone been asked to do this before?

[Edited at 2011-07-19 11:58 GMT]


It is not clear to me what the original job was. Your second sentence is particularly confusing.
It appears your client understands his instructions differently to the way you interpreted them!
I would look back at the original wording of the instructions when you got the original job. Sounds like the client changed the goal posts.

I have translated "answers only" for a magazine article interview. Really light, casual stuff.
The translation was French to English, and initially I was supplied with a numbered list containing the answers of the three people interviewed.
I asked for the questions, since this made a difference as to how certain answers were translated. These were only available in Spanish (!) - but it did the trick, because at least I could make out what the actual questions were!
The job was a small one, but I made sure exactly what was required before starting, and the client got exactly what they had asked for. I was motivated to do the job to maintain cordial relations.

I have had other requests in the past to translate the answers only. Invariably, I reply that this is not possible, since words out of context make no sense and cutting corners is to nobody's advantage. I normally recommend the client elect to have complete questionnaire and answers translated. If the client is in any way hesitant after that, I decline the job.


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Helena Grahn  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:43
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
err no allison Jul 19, 2011

from what you described it is a totally different scenario

you were given answers to translate whereas in this case i was giving a questionnaire to answer based on the comprehension of a medical report.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
What was the original email from the customer? Jul 19, 2011

What did the customer email you in the first place?

Is that something you can share with us? I somehow suspect the job was not clarified adequately.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:43
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not clear Jul 19, 2011

Hi Allison,

It is not clear what the original job description was. Was it maybe the client's intention that you should only provide the answers to the questionnaire and the medical report was provided only as background information but not for translation?


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Helena Grahn  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:43
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
certainly Jul 19, 2011

they wanted me just to read through pages and pages of the patient's medical case and then answer to a few question that only needed short answers but yet important ones, such as... if he ever been hospitalized, what for, when the illness began, etc etc....

Now.... you can imagine being paid only £2 per page to read it and then the words counted as an answer in the questionnaire. I mean... it doesn't pay the job and effort made.

Have you guys ever read long medical reports? They can be a pain to read and full of details so I definitely did not think it was worth while going thru this trouble.

In all these years working as a freelance, I never came across such a thing so... it doesn't matter now... I told the customer I won't do it again and by the way, I added up that they shud be the ones looking for the answers in the translated text and pay for it.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
A live and learn situation Jul 19, 2011

While I have not encountered exactly the situation that you describe, I have been asked on a few occasions to provide a translated "summary". I've always felt uneasy about doing this because (to me) it seems so vague and because it's difficult to know how to charge.

What is the definition of a summary? How do I decide which ideas in the text are important enough to mention and which aren't? Do I charge by text or by hour? What if it takes me a long time to decide what to mention, and then I only type one or two sentences? What if the client's idea about what's important is different from mine? What if my summary ends up being longer/shorter than what the client wants? (etc.)

These are all very important questions - and the only way to clear them up is to have a very detailed dialog with the client FIRST. Everyone needs to be sure that they know exactly what is being requested, and exactly how the work will be remunerated - BEFORE the project is accepted.

Unfortunately, it sounds like that is precisely what didn't happen in this case. From the description, it seems there was a misunderstanding about what exactly the client expected, and in turn, there was a complete difference in opinion on what appropriate compensation should entail.

If the client wants you to complete a questionnaire based on pages and pages of medical text without first "translating" the text, that is not necessarily an unreasonable request - as long as you understand what is being asked of you and can charge appropriately for the work (and no, I don't think £2 per page is appropriate).

In such case, once the project parameters are clear, you say to the client (for example):
OK, I understand that you want me to answer a questionnaire of 4 pages based on 30 pages of (untranslated) text, but please understand that doing so is going to take a lot of time. In order to do this correctly, I will have to familiarize myself with all 30 pages of the text. I will therefore be charging you EUR XX per hour. Based on the amount of text, I estimate it will take XX hours to read through the text, and another XX hours to complete the questionnaire. Please understand that this is only an estimate, and that the final result may be higher or lower. If I believe that the final number of hours will be significantly higher, I will contact you ASAP before proceeding.


That being said, I can totally understand your unwillingness to do this type of project again. It doesn't sound like fun, and it certainly doesn't sound like this particular client would agree to reasonable terms.

Live and learn.


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