• Qualitative;
  • translation;
  • cost;
  • quality



Although the inclusion of non-native-speaking participants in nursing research is important in every country where nursing research takes place, the literature contains little on the method of achieving quality translation while simultaneously addressing cost containment. We describe a process for evaluating translation adequacy and demonstrate its use in comparing procedures for translating data from non-native-speaking interviews.

Organizing Construct

This work demonstrates a process for establishing, evaluating, and achieving translation adequacy when conducting qualitative research for cross-cultural comparisons.


In an ethnographic investigation of disability in Mexican American women, we describe a process for obtaining translation adequacy, defined here as the methodological goal whereby the quality of the translated text meets the needs of the specified study. Using a subset of responses transcribed from Spanish audiotapes into Spanish text, the text was subjected to two separate translation processes, which were compared for adequacy based on error rates and accuracy of meaning, as well as for cost.


The process for discriminating translation adequacy was sensitive to differences in certified versus noncertified translators. While the noncertified translation initially appeared to be seven times less expensive than the certified process, auditing and correcting errors in noncertified translations substantially increased cost. No errors were found with the certified translations.


The level of translation adequacy needed for any qualitative study should be considered before beginning the study itself. Based on a predetermined level, translation choices can be assessed using specified methods, which can also lead to greater transparency in the research process.

Clinical Relevance

An ongoing process to verify translation outcomes inclu-ding cost, a component minimally discussed in the current literature, is relevant to nurses worldwide. Awareness of expense and quality issues makes greater methodological transparency possible in the design of translation projects and research studies.