Off topic: How to start up on the field you are really interested in
Thread poster: Cristina Ayuso (X)

Cristina Ayuso (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 4, 2011

Hello everyone,

I would like to ask you for comments and advise.

I have been working as a freelance translator in many technical fields. But the field I am really interested in, is the translation of books related to Medical Research/Psychology and Neuroscience.

I do not know how I could start up. Who should I contact and how could I apply for?

I would really appreciate any comment and advise.


Cristina Ayuso


Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:17
English to Russian
+ ...
Before you apply... Dec 4, 2011

First people to contact should be doctors, psychologists and neuroscientists among your friends and relatives: borrow some textbooks and read up.


Matthew Fisher (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:17
German to English
A book is an ambitious first project! Dec 4, 2011

Publishers of scientific books do use freelance translators. You would probably need to contact them directly in order to work on a book project. This assumes that you have already translated shorter works in this subject area, and have studied enough science to understand both the concepts and the idiom.

Unfortunately, book publishers will already have a pool of highly qualified translators on file. Given that many book publishers also publish journals, the first step to getting into their system might be to become a translator of journal articles. I'm not sure how you would get on that list, other than meeting someone at a trade conference, or submitting an unsolicited application with a sample of your work.

Pharmaceutical product information and medical records are much more common source texts. Small projects and potential work of this type does show up on reasonably often.

Incidentally, I'm getting started in the same subject area, translating from German to English. So far I've translated about 75,000 words in this area, which is not a very big portfolio, but it's a start. None of this work has been intended for publication. In each case, a group of medical professionals involved in research has wanted to be able to read translations from the scientific literature in their specialty. I found one of these projects through The other one came to me by pure luck, when I was working as a research assistant.

In the pharmaceutical field, regulation within the EU probably drives a lot of translations into Spanish. Drug package leaflets aren't glorious work, but pharmaceutical companies are required to provide them. Translation agencies are active in this area. You could practice translating some drug package leaflets, in order to be ready for pharmaceutical translation tests. I think it's typical to take and pass many tests, before seeing any work. But I don't know how else to get a foot in the door.

The European Medicines Agency has published specific linguistic requirements for translations of drug product information (with respect to terminology, standard drug names, suggested wording, and style). No doubt Spain has its own national requirements. Try to meet these requirements to the best of your ability.

I'm not sure how highly regarded volunteer work is, when seeking professional work. However, two possible places to build a portfolio of volunteer translations in this subject area are Wikipedia and Translators Without Borders. Some scientific journals are also published under a Creative Commons license, which means that under specific conditions you can legally translate and re-publish their content as an example of your work. A portfolio is one of many places where you can publish sample translations.

Outsourcers do browse the directory, and we can all improve our ranking by answering Kudoz questions. I haven't seen any work from this, but I'm fairly new here, and it's good practice. In some subject areas, it doesn't take many points to move up into the first few pages of the directory.

Here are a few links:ómo_traducir_un_artículo

The following article on medical translation into Spanish in the 21st century might also interest you:

Good luck, and let us know what works for you. I know this is a long answer, but I've been thinking a lot about this topic. I'd love to hear what other colleagues here on have to say. I like to think of people here as colleagues rather than competitors.


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