Medical Writing Medical Writing in Oncology Translation Section

Volume 21, Issue 1 - Medical Writing in Oncology

Translation Section


Quality matters in medical translation

In recent years, ‘translation quality’ has become a buzzword in the translation industry. Particularly since the introduction of European standard EN 150381 in 2006 and the certification process that has come with it, many translation service providers (TSPs) have been advertising their proprietary quality management methodologies as a guarantee for success.

But what is EN 15038, and – perhaps equally important from the point of view of quality assurance – what is it not?


  1. Deutsches Institut für Normung [DIN]. Translation services – Service requirements; English version of DIN EN 15038:2006–08. Berlin, Germany: Beuth Verlag GmbH; 2006.
  2. SAE J2450 Translation Quality Metric Task Force. Translation quality metric – surface vehicle standard. Available from:
  3. Crimson Life Sciences. Medical device labeling survey by Crimson Life Sciences exposes serious translation risks, Reuters, 19 March 2009.
  4. European Business Forum. Mead Johnson Nutritionals product recalls (Brief Article) HighBeam Research. (2010 March 4). Available from:
  5. Honert M. Klinik setzte 47 Patienten falsches Gelenk ein. Der Tagesspiegel. Available from:
  6. Garcia-Castillo D, Fetters MD. Quality in medical translations: a review. J Health Care Poor Underserved 2007;18:74–84.
  7. National Standard Guide for Community Interpreting Services. Available from:
  8. DuBay WH. The principles of readability. Available from:
  9. Huth EJ. How to write and publish papers in the medical sciences. Baltimore, London, Munich: Williams & Wilkins; 1990.
  10. Lannon JM. Technical communication. New York, Madrid, Amsterdam: Longman; 2000.
  11. Wegner MV, Girasek DC. How readable are child safety seat installation instructions? Pediatrics 2003;111:588–91.
  12. Hoppe IC. Readability of patient information regarding breast cancer prevention from the web site of the national cancer institute. J Cancer Educ 2010;25:490–2.
  13. Knapp P, Raynor DK, Silcock J, Parkinson B. Performance-based readability testing of participant information for a Phase 3 IVF trial. Trials 2009;10:79.
  14. Barrio-Cantalejo IM, Simon-Lorda P, March Cerda JC, Prieto Rodriguez MA. [Grammatical readability of the package leaflets of the medicinal products most widely consumed and generating the highest expense in Spain during 2005]. Rev Esp Salud Publica 2008;82:559–66.
  15. Zeiger M. Essentials of writing biomedical research papers. Mcgraw-Hill Higher Education; 1999.
  16. Didaoui M. Translation quality: a pragmatic and multidirectional approach. In: Schmitt PAJH (ed.). Translationsqualität. Leipziger Studien zur angewandten Linguistik und Translatologie ed. Frankfurt: Peter Lang; 2006.
  17. FDA. Record of Telephone Conversation, Hiberix. Available from:
  18. O'Neill M. Who makes a better medical translator: the medically knowledgeable linguist or the linguistically knowledgeable medical professional? A physician's perspective. Am Translators Assoc Scholarly Monogr Ser 1998;X:69–80.
  19. Waldo ML. Demythologizing language difference in the academy: establishing discipline-based writing programs. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 2004.
  20. Bourelle A. Lessons from Quintilian: writing and rhetoric across the curriculum for the modern university. Available from:
  21. Hall M. Book review on “Demythologizing language difference in the academy: establishing discipline-based writing programs”. Composition Stud 2005;33:137–40.
  22. Quintilian. Institutio oratoria (translated by Murphy JJ). Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press; 1987.
  23. Thielmann W. Deutsche und englische Wissenschaftssprache im Vergleich. 3rd ed. Heidelberg: Synchron Wissenschaftsverlage der Autoren; 2009.
  24. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available from:, 2011.



About the Medical Writing Journal
Oncology and medical writers
Message from the President
The war on cancer – What is the enemy, and are we winning?
Medical writing for cancer trials and submissions
Developing a treatment for ovarian cancer
The evolving landscape of medical education in oncology
Some considerations on the safety evaluation section of clinical study reports for studies with anticancer drugs
Identifying appropriate journals in which to publish original research on vaccines against human infectious diseases
New myths about English
From researcher in Europe to medical writer in India
Imaging techniques in oncology
Is cancer preventable? A literature review
A rising tide: Hospitals and social media
In the Bookstores
Journal Watch
The Webscout
Manuscript Writing
Regulatory Writing
Good Writing Practice
Out On Our Own
Translation Section


The Write Stuff Archive Contact Instructions for Authors Article Template (Word) Journal Policies

Editoral Board


Raquel Billiones


Evguenia Alechine

Jonathan Pitt

Managing Editor

Victoria White

Associate Editors

Anuradha Alahari

Jennifer Bell

Nicole Bezuidenhout

Claire Chang

Barbara Grossman

Sarah Milner

John Plant

Sampoorna Rappaz

Amy Whereat

Section Editors

Daniela Kamir


Jennifer Bell


Nicole Bezuidenhout 

Digital Communication

Somsuvro Basu

EMWA News 

Ana Sofia Correia 

Gained in Translation

Ivana Turek

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Wendy Kingdom / Amy Whereat

Good Writing Practice

Alison McIntosh 

In the Bookstores

Maria Kołtowska-Häggström

Lingua Franca and Beyond

Maddy Dyer


Lisa Chamberlain-James

Medical Communications/Writing for Patients

Payal Bhatia

Medical Devices

Evguenia Alechine

My First Medical Writing

Anuradha Alahari

News from the EMA

Adriana Rocha


Tiziana von Bruchhausen


Clare ChangZuo Yen Lee 

Regulatory Matters

Sam Hamilton

Regulatory Public Disclosure

Claire Gudex

Teaching Medical Writing

Louisa Ludwig-Begall / Sarah Kabani

The Crofter: Sustainable Communications

Louisa Marcombes

Veterinary Writing

Editors Emeritus

Elise Langdon-Neuner

Phil Leventhal

Layout Designer

Chris Monk