When qualitative research involves data in more than one language, and/or analysis and publication in a language other than that in which it was collected, what are the particular considerations and methods necessary for optimal outcome?
Below is a bibliography of sources on this topic (in progress):
Bashiruddin, Ayesha. 2013. "Reflections on translating qualitative research data: Experiences from Pakistan." International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Vol. 23, Issue 3 (November), pages 357–367
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijal.12041/abstract (abstract only)
Author draws "three important lessons for a qualitative researcher who is involved in researching multilingually: converting data from one language to another requires accuracy and proficiency in both the languages; meaning making and representing involves negotiation with the participants; and situating the stories in social context requires knowledge of the context."
Chen, H.Y., and J.R. Boore. 2010. "Translation and back-translation in qualitative nursing research: methodological review." Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19(1-2): 234-239.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19886874 (abstract only)
Article "examine[s] the effects of the procedure of translation and the techniques used on the collection and interpretation of original language qualitative data for English presentation." Includes lit review of translation and back-translation.
Edwards, Rosalind. 1998. "A Critical Examination of the Use of Interpreters in the Qualitative Research Process." Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 24: 197–208.
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369183X.1998.9976626#preview (1st page only)
Research note intended to stimulate discussion of the role of interpreters in qualitative research.
Esposito, Noreen. 2001. "From Meaning to Meaning: The Influence of Translation Techniques on Non-English Focus Group Research." Qualitative Health Research 11(4): 568-579.
http://qhr.sagepub.com/content/11/4/568.abstract (abstract only)
"The purpose of this article is to examine the impact of translation techniques on the collection and interpretation of non-English to English qualitative data and, in particular, on focus-group data collection and analysis. The goal is to offer suggestions that will minimize potential threats to validity."
Nikander, Pirjo. 2008. "Working with Transcripts and Translated Data." Qualitative Research in Psychology 5(3): 225-231.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14780880802314346 (abstract only)
"This paper offers a concise review on working with and producing ‘good quality transcripts.’ In addition and perhaps more importantly, it discusses the often-neglected question of translating data from another language for (typically) an English speaking academic audience and looks at the range of choices scholars make when presenting their work."
Roth, Wolff-Michael. 2013. "Translation in Qualitative Social Research: The Possible Impossible." Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(2), Art. 13.
Articulates "theoretical and pragmatic dimensions on the topic, drawing on empirical investigations, literary works, and philosophical investigations to explicate how translation is both theoretically impossible and pervasively achieved in/as everyday praxis."
Smith, Helen J., Jing Chen, and Xiaoyun Liu. 2008. "Language and rigour in qualitative research: Problems and principles in analyzing data collected in Mandarin." BMC Medical Research Methodology, 8: 44.
"In collaborative qualitative research in Asia, data are usually collected in the national language...." "Translation of transcripts to a language common to the whole research team costs time and money; and meaning is easily distorted or lost in translation: in some languages and dialects there are literally no direct translations for some words and for other words several meanings can be assigned." The article draws "draw on several published examples from public health research conducted in mainland China, to highlight how language can influence rigour in the qualitative research process," and suggests potential solutions.
Squires, Allison. 2009. "Methodological Challenges in Cross-Language Qualitative Research: A Research Review." International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46(2): 277–287.
Article has 3 purposes: "1) review the methods literature addressing cross language research; 2) synthesize the methodological recommendations from the literature into a list of criteria that could evaluate how researchers methodologically managed translators and interpreters in their qualitative studies; and 3) test these criteria on published cross-language qualitative studies."
Squires, Allison. 2008. "Language barriers and qualitative nursing research: methodological considerations." International Nursing Review 55(3): 265–273.
"This review of the literature synthesizes methodological recommendations for the use of translators and interpreters in cross-language qualitative research."
Temple, Bogusia. 2008. "Narrative analysis of written texts: reflexivity in cross language research." Qualitative Research 8(3): 355-365.
http://qrj.sagepub.com/content/8/3/355.abstract (abstract only)
"... researchers rarely consider the consequences of moving between languages in analysing and writing up narratives. This is particularly surprising for those who see narratives as contextually produced by researchers and participants and have an interest in the influence of the research process. Reflexivity is not extended to include the move across languages." Focuses on "some of the methodological and epistemological issues of analysing written texts produced by researchers in a language that participants did not use."
Temple, Bogusia. 2002. "Crossed Wires: Interpreters, Translators, and Bilingual Workers in Cross-Language Research." Qualitative Health Research 12(6): 844-854.
http://qhr.sagepub.com/content/12/6/844.abstract (abstract only)
"Sociologists have long argued that language constructs the social world at the same time as it describes it. However, the implications of this for cross-language research are rarely considered. Employing interpreters/translators and “cultural brokers” in research raises methodological issues around the meanings of concepts and how to convey difference." Uses a project employing two Asian mental health workers to explore implications of language differences for research.
Temple, Bogusia. 1997. "Watch Your Tongue: Issues in Translation and Cross-Cultural Research." Sociology 31(3): 607-618.
http://soc.sagepub.com/content/31/3/607.abstract (abstract only)
Calls attention to research involving more than one language and the "remarkable silence in sociological debate about the status of this research." Raises concerns about translation of concepts from research on British-Polish communities and suggests "an opening of discussion on an analytical level with those who are often seen as mere technicians, translators and interpreters."
Temple, Bogusia, and Rosalind Edwards. 2002. "Interpreters/translators and cross-language research: Reflexivity and border crossings." International Journal of Qualitative Methods 1 (2), Article 1.
Examines "the implications of extending calls for reflexivity in qualitative research generally to cross-language research with interpreters. Drawing on the concept of ‘borders’, ... present[s] two research projects to demonstrate the need to locate the interpreter as active in producing research accounts. [Extends] the concept of ‘border crossing’, relating this to identity politics and the benefits of making the interpreter visible in research."
Temple, Bogusia, Rosalind Edwards, and Claire Alexander. 2006. "Grasping at Context: Cross Language Qualitative Research as Secondary Qualitative Data Analysis." Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 7, No. 4, Art. 10.
"Research with people who are not fluent in the dominant language of the research endeavour often involves working with interpreters/ translators or researchers who can speak the relevant minority languages. They conduct the interviews and provide the written data used for analysis in a language other than the original. However, this kind of cross language research is often presented as if it is the analysis of primary data rather than the re-construction of it. We argue that analysis of cross language data shows some strong similarities with secondary data analysis."
Temple, Bogusia, and Alys Young. 2004. "Qualitative Research and Translation Dilemmas." Qualitative Research 4(2): 161-178.
Explores 3 questions: "whether methodologically it matters if the act of translation is identified or not; the epistemological implications of who does translation; and the consequences for the final product of how far the researcher chooses to involve a translator in research." Considers sign language. Argues that "centring translation and how it is dealt with raises issues of representation that should be of concern to all researchers."
Twinn, S. 1997. "An exploratory study examining the influence of translation on the validity and reliability of qualitative data in nursing research." Journal of Advanced Nursing 26(2): 418-423.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9292378 (abstract only)
"Despite no significant differences in the major categories generated from the Chinese and English data, some minor differences were identified in the themes generated from the data. More significantly the results of the study demonstrated some important issues to consider when using translation in qualitative research, in particular the complexity of managing data when no equivalent word exists in the target language and the influence of the grammatical style on the analysis. In addition the findings raise questions about the significance of the conceptual framework of the research design and sampling to the validity of the study. The importance of using only one translator to maximize the reliability of the study was also demonstrated. In addition the author suggests the findings demonstrate particular problems in using translation in phenomenological research designs."
Van Nes, Fenna, et al. 2010. "Language differences in qualitative research: is meaning lost in translation?" European Journal of Ageing, 7(4): 313–316.
"discusses challenges of language differences in qualitative research, when participants and the main researcher have the same non-English native language and the non-English data lead to an English publication."
Welch, Catherine, and Rebecca Piekkari. 2006. "Crossing language boundaries: qualitative interviewing in international business." Management International Review 46(4)
Explores "the use of foreign languages in qualitative interviewing, an issue previously treated as a mere technical consideration and largely neglected in the monolingual, English-dominated environment of international business research. Drawing on literature from linguistic anthropology and qualitative interviewing methodology, [provides] a holistic view of foreign language use based on the experiences of 34 scholars from different countries."
Related articles & publications:
"Translating Questionnaires and Other Research Instruments: Problems and Solutions." (n.d.) Community-Based Intervention Research Group (C-BIRG), Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, Florida International University.
Presentation about aspects of translation. Disaggregates the issue and evaluates the various aspects.
Maneesriwongul, W., and J.K. Dixon. 2004. "Instrument translation process: a methods review." Journal of Advanced Nursing 48(2): 175-186.
"In this methods review, different processes of instrument translation and evaluation of translation adequacy in published nursing research are described and classified into a hierarchy."
Steyaert, Chris, and Maddy Janssens. 2012. "Multilingual scholarship and the paradox of translation and language in management and organization studies." Organization 20(1): 131–142
"This article questions the unreflexive use of English in academic practices by highlighting the paradox of multilingual scholarship and the need for practices that may help both scholars and journals to become inventive in performing multilingual scholarship."
Forsythe, Barbara H., et al, 2006, "Methods for Translating Survey Questionnaires," Paper presented to American Association for Public Opinion Research, Montreal, Canada, May, 2006
Harkness, Janet A., and Alicia Schoua-Glusberg, 1998, "Questionnaires in Translation," ZUMA-Nachrichten Spezial, January 1998, pp. 87-126
World Health Organization, "Process of translation and adaptation of instruments" (webpage accessed 11 February 2014)
International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Special Issue: Researching Multilingually, edited by: Jane Andrews, Prue Holmes, Richard Fay, November 2013, Vol. 23, Issue 3, pages 283–403.