What rates do you typically charge for LQA?
Thread poster: Chloe Franklin

Chloe Franklin
United Kingdom
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 23, 2019

I received an email about doing some LQA (language quality assurance) work, and as someone starting out in translation, I am interested in trying out different fields. What does LQA entail? What are some average rates to charge for this kind of work?

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Chloe Oct 23, 2019

Chloe Franklin wrote:
I received an email about doing some LQA work. What does LQA entail? What are some average rates to charge for this kind of work?


LQA means proofreading a translation and then writing the individual errors to a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet contains fields for the source text, the existing translation, your recommended translation, the type of error (you must select from a drop-down list), the severity of the error (select from a drop-down list), and a description of the error.

The agency that the translator works for, can get penalised if the score is below a certain level. If there are too many errors, they might even lose money (or they might lose the contract, or they might be asked to do additional work for free). On the other hand, most good clients know that LQA spreadsheets are typically unnecessarily strict, so don't feel too guilty if the spreadsheet calculates a "fail" score.

Often, the translator then gets the opportunity to respond and to accept/reject your edits. Then, often, you must defend the edits that the translator rejected. Sometimes, a third person is asked to arbitrate. So, an LQA task takes place over multiple days.

How the client pays, depends on the client, but generally the client will expect you to do the LQA'ing for the same rate as regular proofreading, even though it takes much, much longer to do (copy/pasting content, classifying the errors, writing explanations, defending your decisions, etc.). Some LQA jobs are based on samples, i.e. you don't edit the entire text, but only e.g. the first 1000 words of a text. Other LQA jobs have a set time limit, e.g. 1 hour, so you must stop after 1 hour on the first day (then you don't get paid for the work you do on the second or third day, because the client assumes that the translator will not reject any of your edits).

Clients assume that you'll enter errors in the spreadsheet as you encounter them, but it'll preserve your sanity better if you first proofread a chunk of text using e.g. tracked changes, and then add the errors to the spreadsheet in bulk. Then, if you're doing a time-limited job, you'll learn after a while to spend only the first 1/4 to 1/3 of the allotted time doing proofreading, and spend the rest of the allotted time filling in the spreadsheet.

It is important that you read the descriptions of the severity carefully and follow them. In other words, do not mark an error as "critical" simply because you personally consider it a critical error, but read the description of what "critical" means in that particular LQA, and mark an error only as "critical" if the description applies.

A good tactic when doing LQA is to mark only errors that you believe a good translator is likely to agree with, or errors that you are quite certain you can convince another translator is an error (e.g. because it's written somewhere official, etc.).

When writing comments, try to be extremely neutral. Do not refer to the "translator" -- instead, refer to the "translation". The less offended the translator feels about your comments, the more likely he is to accept your edits, and the less time you will spend defending your decisions. Also, if the translator disputes too many of your edits, it may reflect poorly on you (especially if the translator manages to write good comments that convince the client to trust the translator more). LQA is a battle between you and the translator, but there doesn't have to be winners and losers (unless, of course, the translation is rubbish and the translator has no business calling himself a translator).

Some LQA spreadsheets are booby-trapped so that you can't edit any cells that you have pasted content into, or edit any previous cells if you have already added content to other cells. Think of a large, wild cat and a way for a road to cross a river.

Sometimes the client also wants you to deliver an edited version of the translation file itself. Sometimes the client wants you to wait until the translator and the arbitrator responded, before implementing the agreed-upon edits into the file. In a worst case scenario, the client tells the translator to affect the agreed edits but then asks you to "quickly check" if the edits were implemented correct (all for free, of course).

Sometimes the spreadsheet is online (e.g. Google Docs), saved in such a way that you can't edit it offline. Sometimes the LQA form is a web-based system instead of a spreadsheet. Sometimes you can't edit your edits after you've submitted each of them. Sometimes you wonder what idiot designed the system.

Anyway, enough advice. It is impossible to estimate how long an LQA will take (unless the client limits the time), because the time it takes increases exponentially with a higher frequency of errors in the translation. However, as you're just starting out, I recommend that you give it a try. You can always stop doing LQAs later, when you have enough other clients.

I suggest you attempt to charge an hourly rate for LQA. What is your usual hourly rate?

Added: Some agencies use the term "LQA" for any proofreading in a spreadsheet, i.e. you don't have to categorise the errors and the translator isn't going to respond to your edits, but you may still have to write comments. Watch out for hidden rows when pasting!

Oh, and don't forget, project managers will love you if you write neatly and clearly without saying too much or too little.


[Edited at 2019-10-23 20:10 GMT]


Dr Graham Gault
Virginia Asensio
 


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