Appendix B

Documentation templates for shared language harmonization steps

Clear instructions and documentation templates help researchers conduct and document shared language harmonization products. Below are a few examples of templates used in recent cross-national surveys in connection with shared language harmonization.

The WHO Mental Health Survey Initiative aimed for an optimized and maximally harmonized questionnaire. The output of harmonization procedures for Spanish in Latin America and Spain is presented in Table 1 below.

translation harmonization appendix b table 1

Note: The numbers in Column D indicate the countries using the term, as follows: (1) Spain, (2) Latin America, (3) Colombia, (4) Puerto Rico, (5) Mexico, (6) Chile, (7) Argentina, (8) Panama. Table 1 is adapted from Harkness et al., 2008b.

The translation team of the ESS investigated differences across shared language versions in the survey using templates similar to Template 1 below. This template brings together German translations made for different countries and comments on any documentation made in various countries on differences. It was not intended for public use. The people using it understood German and therefore did not explain everything noted to each other. A document intended for public use would need to be more explicit, but this document was satisfactory for the purpose of translation harmonization into German within the context of this project. 

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Template 1: German translations across participating countries
Code Source German Austria German Germany German Lux German Switzerland Comment
Q. A1 On an average weekday, how much time, in total, do you spend watching television? Wie viel Zeit verbringen Sie an einem normalen Wochentag insgesamt mit Fernsehen? Identical to Lux. Wie viel Zeit verbringen Sie an einem gewöhnlichen Werktag insgesamt damit, fernzusehen? Identical to Germany Karte 1. Wie viel Zeit verbringen Sie an einem gewöhnlichen Werktag insgesamt mit Fernsehen? weekday versus work day: not mentioned in notes Watching TV explicit in D/L (verb formulation) nominalized in A and CH; not commented on
I Please use this card to answer. Bitte verwenden Sie diese Karte zur Beantwortung. Bitte sagen Sie es mir anhand von Liste 1.   Bitte verwenden Sie für Ihre Antwort Karte 1. House styles not commented on
RC No time at all See GER/Lux gar keine Zeit See Austria/Lux Gar keine Zeit   Überhaupt keine Zeit no comments on differences between CH and the others
Less than 1/2 hour See CH weniger als 1/2 Stunde Weniger als eine 1/2 Stunde   See Austria Weniger als 1/2 Stunde Differences not commented upon
1/2 hour to 1 hour mehr als 1/2 Stunde, bis zu 1 Stunde 1/2 bis zu 1 Stunde   1/2 Stunde, bis zu 1 Stunde "More than 1/2 an hour up to 1 hour "versus "1/2 to 1 hour" or "1/2 an hour to 1 hour" CH comma possibly disruptive for reading.

Note: The header "Code" in the first column on the left refers to the abbreviations in that column; QA1 = the question code, I = Instructions, RC = response categories.

Also excel templates used for documenting questionnaire translation processes – such as the Translation and Verification Follow-up Form TVFF used in the ESS (see Translation: Overview, Appendix A) can be used to compare translations into one shared language. The columns showing the translations from the different countries can easily be copied next to each other.

        Figure 1: TVFF – section on shared language harmonization (example ESS Round 6 German: Germany-Switzerland)


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