Who is Eligible
Translations are provided for all NIH staff holding a current NIH ID with Library privileges.
The Translations Office provides oral and written translations of materials required to carry out NIH programs. These materials range from research publications to letters, diplomas, and other personal documents. Oral translations are conducted in-person.
Prioritizing Translation Requests
The Translations Office receives a high volume of requests throughout the year in a variety of language combinations. The two federal translators who cover multiple languages in-house try to keep up with demand, but frequently requests for translations must be contracted out at a cost to the requestor if a language is not covered in-house or the requestor requires a quick turnaround. Moreover, a contracted translation is less likely to be subject to delays since agencies typically employ many language service providers (LSP).The translations performed in-house may be subject to considerable delays, so prioritizing requests is an important way to manage the translation workflow.
The Translations Office categorizes its work in the following priority levels:
- Reviews1 and proofreading2 of materials translated by contractors and federal translators
- Medical record translations (test results, pathology reports, SOAP reports, referral letters, notifications to patients, etc.) and translations of personal documents (passports, driver’s licenses, diplomas, etc.)
- Translations of protocol consent updates (small modifications/additions/deletions to an already-translated document)
- Patient document translations related to research studies (questionnaires, scripts, instructions, directions, etc.)
- Protocol consent translations (new documents that have not been translated before)
- Translations of short documents for patient education (fact sheets, summaries, web page information, etc.)
- Translations of scientific articles and book chapters
Due to time constraints and limited resources, it is usually not possible for the federal translators to accept the following requests (for certain languages) although contracting them out through the Translations Office is possible5:
- translation of entire web sites
- translation projects that involve constant updating
- translation projects that, due to their length and complexity, involve a dedicated service for a particular client
- translation projects for agencies or entities beyond the mission purview.
- translation projects for NIH staff that are not for work/research purposes.
As every translation request is different, translators will use their judgment about accepting, and prioritizing projects in terms of urgency3 and importance4 and will offer alternatives to their clients if they are appropriate and available.
How to Request a Translation
To request a translation, complete the translations form. You will be contacted about submitting your documents.
NIH staff may request one in-house written translation at a time. More than one contracted translation can be processed simultaneously. Determination of the timing and quantity of in-house oral translations is made on a case by case basis. Appointments for oral translations can be made by calling 301-496-2257.
- In-house translations of personal, work-related official documents (birth certificates, diplomas, passports, etc.) are offered free of charge from French, German, Russian, and Spanish into English.
- In-house translations of certain documents from English into Spanish and Russian are also prepared free of charge.
- In-house translations into English of journal articles, reports, etc. are processed in the order received and prepared as time permits.
- Translations from all other languages, and translations into a foreign language from English, not including Spanish and Russian, must be contracted out at a cost. The cost is billed to the requestor’s Institute/Center/Division.
For more information, please call 301-496-2257 or email NIHLibraryTranslationsStaff@mail.nih.gov.
1Reviewing: Translator compares the source text with the target text to verify that the translation is complete and accurate.
2Proofreading: Translator reads the translation to verify that it is linguistically correct in the target language.
3Urgent: Translation of time-sensitive documents (for example, patient records, vital records to be provided for immigration purposes, etc.)
4Important: All translation requests related to employment and research at NIH are equally important.
5The Translations Office will not be able to review or proofread these contracted translations.