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Survey Guidelines

What to consider and look out for in questionnaire translation

These guidelines focus on the concrete translation step, answering the question what those translating questionnaires need to keep in mind and consider when translating and taking actual translation decisions. Areas covered include: (a) the translation of meaning, (b) cultural adequacy, (c) response scales, d) consistency, e) style and register, f) linguistic correctness, and g) layout and presentation.

Behr, Dorothée (2023). What to consider and look out for in questionnaire translation. Mannheim, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS – Survey Guidelines). DOI: 10.15465/gesis-sg_en_043

  • Behr, Dorothée, and Michael Braun. 2022. "How does back translation fare against team translation?: An experimental case study in the language combination English-German." Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology online first. doi:
  • Behr, Dorothée. 2018. "Translating questionnaires for cross-national surveys – a description of a genre and its particularities based on the ISO 17100 categorization of translator competences." Translation & Interpreting 10 (2): 5-20.
  • Behr, Dorothée. 2017. "Assessing the use of back translation: the shortcomings of back translation as a quality testing method." International Journal of Social Research Methodology 20 (6): 573-584. doi:
  • Behr, Dorothée, and Evi Scholz. 2011. "Questionnaire Translation in Cross-National Survey Research: on the Types and Value of Annotations." mda : Methoden, Daten, Analysen 5 (2): 157-179.
  • Behr, Dorothée. 2022. "Computer-assisted Migration Research: What We Can Learn about Source Questionnaire Design and Translation from the Software Localization Field ." In Migration Research in a Digitized World: Using Innovative Technology to Tackle Methodological Challenges, edited by Steffen Pötzschke, and Sebastian Rinken, IMISCOE Research Series, 79-99. Cham: Springer.
  • Behr, Dorothée, Steve Dept, and Elica Krajĉeva. 2018. "Documenting the Survey Translation and Monitoring Process." In Advances in Comparative Survey Methods: Multinational, Multiregional and Multicultural Contexts (3MC), edited by Timothy P. Johnson, Beth-Ellen Pennell, Ineke Stoop, and Brita Dorer, 341-356. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Behr, Dorothée, and Kuniaki Shishido. 2016. "The translation of measurement instruments for cross-cultural surveys." In The SAGE Handbook of Survey Methodology, edited by Christof Wolf, Dominique Joye, Tom W. Smith, and Yang-chi Fu, 269-287. London: Sage.
  • Behr, Dorothée. 2009. Translationswissenschaft und international vergleichende Umfrageforschung: Qualitätssicherung bei Fragebogenübersetzungen als Gegenstand einer Prozessanalyse. GESIS-Schriftenreihe 2. Bonn: GESIS.
  • Lyberg, Lars, Beth-Ellen Pennell, Kristen Cibelli Hibben, Julie de Jong, Dorothée Behr, Jamie Burnett, Rory Fitzgerald, Peter Granda, Linda Luz Guerrero, Hayk Gyuzalyan, Tim Johnson, Jibum Kim, Zeina Mneimneh, Patrick Moynihan, Michael Robbins, Alisú Schoua-Glusberg, Mandy Sha, Tom W. Smith, Ineke Stoop, Irina Tomescu-Dubrow, Diana Zaval-Rojas, and Elisabeth J. Zechmeister. 2021. "AAPOR/WAPOR task force report in comparative surveys."