Questionnaire translations in international studies

High-quality translations of questionnaires are essential for the quality of data collected in  cross-national studies. We recommend factoring translation processes into your proposal applications and project planning early on, by taking into account the time, personnel and financial resources required for translation. 

Furthermore, when developing the source questionnaire for a study, its translatability and cultural relevance should be considered, in accordance with best practice for developing questionnaires for cross-national studies. The solution is quality assurance on top of quality control. In this way, errors can be avoided and problems that might otherwise jeopardize the actual translation process can be solved. 


  • the design of translation and quality control processes: Our approach is based on the TRAPD method, which is implemented in the European Social Survey (ESS). The method starts off with two translations being produced independently (Translation), followed by an interdisciplinary discussion with translators, experts from the field and survey experts (Review), finalization processes (Adjudication) and a pretest in the target population (Pretest). The entire process is documented (Documentation). We discuss possible ways of implementing this method or alternative methods with you.
  • the actual implementation and provide practical support, e.g. with producing project / translation instructions for the translators of questionnaires, drawing up the concrete documentation of a translation project or the translation as such.


  • the application of so-called advance translations or translatability assessments. These involve translating a not yet finalized questionnaire with the objective of identifying problem areas early on;
  • the annotation of questionnaires in order to provide translators with important information for the translation;
  • the implementation of additional cross-cultural procedures (e.g. cross-cultural design teams, pretests) to ensure translatability and cultural relevance and, ultimately, comparability.