The Vital Role Of Terminology Management In The Life Sciences

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With this white paper "The Vital Role of Terminology Management in the Life Sciences." CSOFT believes that investing in terminology management at the outset of a project helps companies prevent …

With this white paper "The Vital Role of Terminology Management in the Life Sciences." CSOFT believes that investing in terminology management at the outset of a project helps companies prevent confusion for the user and avoid unnecessary expense and delays.

Author Uwe Muegge is the Director of MedL10N, the life science division of
CSOFT. Uwe has more than 15 years experience in the translation
and localization field.

More in: Technology
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  • 1. The Vital Role of Terminology Management in the Life Sciences Definitions Effective and efficient What is terminology management? terminology management Why is it generally a good idea to can make the difference manage terminology? between success and failure of a market launch What issues make terminology manage- ment of critical importance to the life sciences? If my language service provider uses a translation memory system, is there still a need for creating a termbase? What are the risks of not having a termi- nology management strategy? When is the best time to start a termi- nology project? Are there any relevant international standards for terminology manage- ment? What kind of infrastructure do organiza- tions need to manage terminology effectively? About the author
  • 2. csoft The Vital Role of Terminology Management Effective and efficient terminology management can make the in the Life Sciences difference between success and failure of a market launch DEFINITIONS synonym translation memory system termbase terminology terminology management system glossary collection of words that have special meaning in a project terminology collection of words that have special synonym meaning in a given subject field word that has the same meaning as another word terminology management system term type of software application that word that has a special meaning in a enables users to efficiently collect, given subject field process, and present terminology termbase translation memory system database that contains a collection of type of software application that words that have special meaning in a enables human translators to reuse given subject field previous translations stored in a translation repository www.medl10n.com (a division of CSOFT International Ltd.) 1
  • 3. csoft The Vital Role of Terminology Management Effective and efficient terminology management can make the in the Life Sciences difference between success and failure of a market launch What is terminology management? Terminology management is the activity of systematically collecting, processing, and presenting words that have special meaning in a given subject field – the em- phasis being on the word systematically. The goal of any terminology management effort is to ensure that the words that are most closely associated with a given organization’s products, services, and branding are used consistently – in the source language and in all the languages into which the various types of documents the organization generates are translated into. Managing terminology effectively in an y ? organization typically involves the following activities: Identification of key terms much debate whether it makes good business sense to collect anything other than simple term lists. ISO 12620 specifies almost 200 possible data categories Finding the words that are considered important for a terminological entry, and yet ISO 12616 lists only enough that they should be used consistently within three of those as mandatory, i.e. term, source, and date. and across documents is not an easy task. If the For many organizations, the most practical solution organization has a team of terminology stakeholders will probably be a data model that involves less than (e.g. representatives from product development, two dozen data categories. technical communication, marketing communication, and legal service groups) that decides on terminology In all major terminology standards, definitions are an before development and authoring begins, the optional data category. Even though writing defini- challenge is to reach consensus among the diverging tions can easily be the most time-consuming and interests. expensive part of developing an entry, a definition is typically the most valuable part of an entry, especially If no terminology circle has been instituted, which is if the organization uses the terminology database as the most typical scenario in the business world today, the universal knowledge base that it is. It’s the defini- and the team members within the various organiza- tion that helps an engineer pick the correct term from tional groups have already generated a wide variety of a range of options, and it’s the definition that lets a documents (e.g. specifications, software, manuals, new employee understand an unfamiliar concept regulatory documents, and marketing collateral), it better than any other information in an entry. A quick may be difficult to collect all relevant documents and note for those who struggle with definition writing: A the sheer volume of text may require automated terminological definition is not the same as an extraction of terminology and subsequent manual encyclopedic entry. A good terminological definition clean-up. is a brief, to-the-point statement that should not be longer than one sentence. Development of entries Example: Once the question of which terms should go into a pacemaker glossary has been resolved, the next issue is: How implantable medical device for treating heart arrhyth- much supporting information is needed. There is mias www.medl10n.com (a division of CSOFT International Ltd.) 2
  • 4. csoft The Vital Role of Terminology Management Effective and efficient terminology management can make the in the Life Sciences difference between success and failure of a market launch Review and approval of glossaries be used (preferred terms) and which shouldn’t (deprecated terms). In the case of translated glossaries, and termbases the review should be performed by a subject matter The importance of having subject matter experts expert who works in the country where the target evaluate monolingual and multilingual terminology language into which the glossary was translated into. collections prior to their publication and use cannot be Terminology maintenance overemphasized. Glossaries and termbases are norma- tive documents that will ideally be used by all commu- The only constant in business is change, and this nicators within an organization, as well as its external adage certainly applies to terminology management. vendors of communication services such as PR, As both technology and language are constantly marketing, advertising, and translation agencies. It is evolving, so should glossaries and termbases. In other therefore imperative that a person who is intimately words: In order to provide internal and external familiar with both the domain the terminological communicators with the relevant and up-to-date collection covers and the organization that sponsors terminology, the terminology repositories need not the terminology project, signs off on each entry. only be continuously expanded with new and emerg- Reviewers typically focus on the accuracy of defini- ing terms but existing terms must be evaluated for tions and decide which terms are desirable and should validity on a regular basis. Why is it generally a good idea to manage terminology? Consistent corporate communication Terminology management enables organizations of any size to use the same terms consistently within and across the communication types that accompany a product or service. Typical communication types include specifications, drawings, user interface/human factors data, software strings, help systems, technical documentation, marketing materials, documents for regulatory submission, etc. As multiple authors typically contribute to these communications, termi- nology management is the most efficient solution for ensuring that the organization speaks with one voice. Streamlined authoring, editing, and translation Having a comprehensive, project-specific termbase available at the outset of a project frees developers, writers – and ultimately, translators - from the tedious task of researching terms on their own and reduces Why is it generally a good the danger of multiple communicators accidentally idea to manage terminology? coining multiple terms for the same feature, which either goes undetected and causes confusion for the user, or causes unnecessary expense and delays for terminology harmonization throughout the product lifecycle. www.medl10n.com (a division of CSOFT International Ltd.) 3
  • 5. csoft The Vital Role of Terminology Management Effective and efficient terminology management can make the in the Life Sciences difference between success and failure of a market launch What issues make terminology management of critical importance to the life sciences? User requirements Regulatory requirements One of the defining characteristics of the life science The life sciences being a regulated industry, organiza- industries is that the products and services these tions operating in this field are subject to government organizations offer typically have an immediate oversight. This means, for instance, that a wide variety impact on the life and well-being of people who are of documents such as clinical trials reports, user being treated with these products and services. This manuals, and product labeling have to be submitted being the case, any communication with the end user, to regulatory bodies for review. One important aspect regardless if they are a clinician or a patient, must be of the formal quality of these submissions is the as comprehensible as possible to ensure the desired consistent use of correct terminology within any given effect of a product or service. This means not only that document and across all documents in a submission labeling and instructions for use must be terminologi- package. Typically many different, geographically cally consistent, it also means that the most common distributed authors contribute to these submissions, and most easily understood terms are being used, and considering the endless opportunities for intro- which necessitates a conscientious effort at identify- ducing synonyms and variants into these documents, ing, collecting, and publishing these terms. terminology management is a mandatory part of any well-planned submission process. If my language service provider uses a translation memory system, is there still a need for creating a termbase? Integrated terminology management Many language service providers use a translation memory system for storing and reusing translations. While it is true that a translation memory makes it possible to retrieve not only translated sentences but also sub-sentential elements such as terminology, this so-called concordance feature is no substitute for creating a termbase. Here is why: In the absence of a termbase, translation memories typically contain synonyms, i.e. multiple translations,abbreviated forms and variants of the same term,making it very difficult,if not impos- sible, for teams of translation professionals to consistently pick the same translated term. Also, using the concordance function every time a term occurs in a text to be translated is very time consuming and results in low productivity. And that’s the best case scenario where the term has actually been translated before: For new terminology, the translation memory system is no help at all. www.medl10n.com (a division of CSOFT International Ltd.) 4
  • 6. csoft The Vital Role of Terminology Management Effective and efficient terminology management can make the in the Life Sciences difference between success and failure of a market launch When is the best time to start a terminology project? Effective terminology management starts long before the first source document in a global campaign is even written. The terminology circle should decide on new terms for features and functions at the specification stage. Starting terminology management later, e.g. by extracting terms from existing documents, means by necessity changes. And changes are always expensive and time-consuming: A study conducted in the automobile industry indicates that a terminology change at the maintenance stage (i.e. after publication) is 200 times more expensive than a change at the product data stage (i.e. at the specification stage). Product Data Document Design Maintenance Authoring Editing Acceptance Translation Translation 200 Maintenance 100 Acceptance 50 Product Data 1 20 5 Document Design 10 Authoring Editing Figure 1: The rising cost of changing terminology in the document lifecycle ( Source: Schütz, MULTIDOC Project ) www.medl10n.com (a division of CSOFT International Ltd.) 6
  • 7. csoft The Vital Role of Terminology Management Effective and efficient terminology management can make the in the Life Sciences difference between success and failure of a market launch What are the risks of not having a terminology management strategy? RISKS Lost reven ue issues ability Us Usability issues Consider this simple fact: With project-specific glossaries in place, all communicators including developers, writers, translators use only approved terms – and compliance with Without tools and process in place that ensure consistent the corporate terminology can be checked using use of approved terms by each member of the various automated tools. Without glossaries, the product and every teams that contribute material for external communication document associated with it will have to be checked in the course of a launch of a product or service, differences manually for consistency with all other documents. Because between the terms that appear in the product or are part of of the complexity of the task, there is a good chance that the service and the documents that accompany those not every inconsistency will be discovered – after all, who products and services are inevitable. Discrepancies has the bandwidth to read all documents involved in the between what users see while interacting with a product or launch of a product or service – and fixing those inconsis- service and what these users find in user assistance texts tencies that are found is expensive. such as online help, tutorials, or user documentation can have a negative impact on the experience a user has with a But having to correct consistency into existing documents, product or service. This type of problem should be of and the detrimental effect this has on a project’s budget particular concern to vendors operating in the life sciences and release schedule, is not the worst-case scenario. Much space, as any usability issue may have serious conse- worse would be a case where a launch has to be quences. But even if no patient is impacted, terminological postponed because of delays in the regulatory approval inconsistencies not only reflect poorly on otherwise process caused by incorrect and/or inconsistent terminol- well-designed products or services, they also cause ogy in the submission documents. The author is familiar unnecessary and costly calls to support and customer with one case where a submission was rejected outright service centers. due to translation and terminology issues, which resulted in Lost revenue the loss of millions of dollars of revenue. While it is certainly true that managing terminology costs money, not managing terminology can cost a lot more. www.medl10n.com (a division of CSOFT International Ltd.) 5
  • 8. csoft The Vital Role of Terminology Management Effective and efficient terminology management can make the in the Life Sciences difference between success and failure of a market launch Are there any relevant international standards for terminology management? Yes, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has created a number of standards that outline best practices in terminology management. Below are: ISO 704:2000 ISO 1087-1:2000 Terminology work – Principles and methods Terminology work – Vocabulary – Part 1: Theory and application This 38-page document is an excellent introductory text to terminology management, including guide- This is another overview text that describes the major lines for writing definitions. concepts used in terminology management. ISO 12616:2002 ISO 12620:1999 Translation – oriented terminography Computer applications in terminology – Data categories This document provides information on managing terminology specifically for translation environments. This document specifies the data categories that should be used to ensure easy data exchange between systems that store and process terminology. In addition to these standards on terminology management practice, ISO publishes literally hundreds of standards that contain monolingual and multilingual glossaries, e.g. ISO 14644-6:2007 ISO 8600-6:2005 ISO 15225:2000 Cleanrooms and associ- Optics and photonics -- Nomenclature -- Specifica- ated controlled environ- Medical endoscopes and tion for a nomenclature ments -- Part 6: Vocabu- endotherapy devices -- system for medical devices lary Part 6: Vocabulary for the purpose of regula- tory data exchange Also, many national standardization bodies as well as governmental and non- governmental organizations publish extensive domain-specific glossaries that can help a terminology management effort to get off to a fast start. www.medl10n.com (a division of CSOFT International Ltd.) 7
  • 9. csoft The Vital Role of Terminology Management Effective and efficient terminology management can make the in the Life Sciences difference between success and failure of a market launch What kind of infrastructure do organizations need to manage terminology effectively? In-house model A number of organizations have built up sophisticated internal terminology management capabilities. Medtronic is a good example of a life science company that has spent well above a million dollars on hiring dedicated terminologists, developing custom software, and translating terminology internally. For large, multibillion-dollar organizations that have their own local resources in all the markets they serve, this model makes perfect sense. Strategy: Outsourcing model Make terminology management part of the overall launch plan for a product or service. For smaller organizations that have less experience in the area of globalization and yet wish to jump- start a terminology management effort, it may Timing: make more sense to use an external vendor for Initiate the terminology development effort at most of the terminology tasks. In an outsourced the earliest possible time. scenario, the organization sponsoring a terminol- ogy project provides two resources: Allocation: a) During the development of a glossary, the organization makes its subject matter experts Plan for subject matter experts to be available available to the vendor for tasks such as ranking of during key phases of a terminology project. synonyms (e.g. preferred, admitted, deprecated/do not use) or writing/reviewing definitions; and Selection: b) After a given glossary is complete, the organiza- tion provides a means for sharing that information, Use a language service provider with experience typically a searchable site on the organization’s in terminology management. intranet. Hand-offs: Here are the five key factors that determine the effectiveness of an outsourced terminology Include the finished glossary as a resource to be management project: used by all internal and external contributors to a launch. About the author Uwe Muegge is the Director of MedL10N, the life science division of CSOFT. Uwe has more than 15 years experience in the translation and localization field. Before joining CSOFT, he served as the Corpo- rate Terminologist at Medtronic, the world’s largest manufacturer of medical technology. Uwe is currently a member of the technical committee for terminology at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and teaches graduate courses in Terminology Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Uwe Muegge can be reached at +1 ( 952 ) 955 - 7708 or uwe.muegge @ medl10n.com. www.medl10n.com (a division of CSOFT International Ltd.) 8