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Census Bureau Guidelines for the Translation of Data Collection Instruments and Supporting Materials: Documentation on How the Guideline was Developed

Yuling Pan and Manuel de la Puente

KEY WORDS: survey translation, cross-cultural issues in survey design, data quality, non-English speaking populations


The Census Bureau developed guidelines for the translation of data collection instruments and supporting materials in order to ensure that such documents translated from a source language into a target language are reliable, complete, accurate, and culturally appropriate. In addition to meeting these criteria, guidelines were developed to ensure that translated Census Bureau data collection instruments also have semantic, conceptual, and normative equivalence. The guideline recommends that the translation of data collection instruments from a source language into a target be conducted using a translation team. The guideline relies on the cross-cultural and survey methodology research literature and specifies and describes five steps that comprise the translation process. These steps are: Prepare, Translate, Pretest, Revise, and Document."


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: August 24, 2005
Last revised: August 24, 2005

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010