The use of interpreters in qualitative research

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This Slideshare will attempt to uncover some of the practical and theoretical approaches to using an interpreter during field-based research in a country, community or culture that is not that of the …

This Slideshare will attempt to uncover some of the practical and theoretical approaches to using an interpreter during field-based research in a country, community or culture that is not that of the researcher.

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  • Hey Ash!
    You’re slideshare presentation was well organized, very relevant and engaging. The slides were well structured (good balance of images and text), and the questions and assumptions you stated, made it easy to follow along. In terms of content, I really appreciated the point that you made regarding the interpreter’s role as the cultural expert and how they can help create that space to facilitate your entry into a community. I’m currently considering taking on an interpreter for this exact purpose. So, I really appreciated the fact that you highlighted the benefits of employing an insider regardless of your own cultural knowledge. Overall, I think you did a great job and I definitely will be referring to this information as I’m developing my research design.

    Thanks a lot!
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  • Hey Ash! This is such a comprehensive presentation. You really did hear our comments in class and incorporated them to create a very effective and informative presentation. I love the characters!
    Given that this is your final draft and I have no other suggestions to make, I'll just reiterate that you did a great job.
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  • As mentioned in class I thought the presentation was really well done. I think that it is critical that the pre-training that occurs for the translator/interpreter create a relationship that both understand what is expected of them and how the interviews are going to work. If not, the researcher is going to have an upset interpreter and may not get the data they are seeking.
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  • Great slideshare! Like I said in class, it would be cool if you talked about how a researcher and a translator handle the raw data and do the transcribing and translating.
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  • Very good set up of your slide show, no wasted space and grabs the readers attention right from the beginning. Effective use of graphics throughout. The pro tips are very useful and summarized extremely effectively. Your discussion of using a translator as a 'cultural liaison' is very well thought out. Your display of the theoretical frameworks shaping how a translator is used is done very well. On the last slide you have 'before you get started,' section, maybe add in a 'after you've completed your research' section - debrief as was stated in the discussion after your presentation.
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  • 1. Ashley Honsberger Candidate: Masters in Capacity Development & Extension, International Development University of Guelph March, 2014 THE USE OF INTERPRETERS IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH This Slideshare will attempt to uncover some of the practical and theoretical approaches to using an interpreter during field-based research in a country, community or culture that is not that of the researcher.
  • 2. INTRODUCTION Using an interpreter in a community where you don‟t speak the language may be the only way you are able to collect data. But what are some of the things to consider when doing so? Here are some questions and assumptions to consider before we get started: 1. The interpreter I hired is a highly proficient English speaker as well as the language or dialect where I will be researching, that’s all I need, right? 2. My research shows that the host culture has a really strong caste or social structure, but that shouldn’t matter if I’m from abroad. 3. The translator seems professional and tells me what I need, so long as I write things down accurately my data should be reliable. 4. My biases and power relation with the ‘participant’ is the most important thing to consider when designing and conducting the interview. What‟s the difference between an “interpreter” and a “translator”? http://lrc.wfu.edu/community_interpreting/pages/translator-interpreter.htm
  • 3. 1. The interpreter I hired is a highly proficient English speaker as well as the language or dialect where I will be researching, that’s all I need, right? Wrong! Aside from the spoken language, other elements for consideration during translation can include:  Gender (how gender roles influence responses)  local culture/class/caste issues (how you, the interpreter, and participant interact and interpret each other)  social considerations (whether the interpreter is protecting the community or otherwise biased towards participants) Just like you, your interpreter has a worldview or lens that can influence the information they collect from participants and how they choose to interpret it on your behalf. Unless you have extensive cultural experience in your host community, the interpreter may need to be more than just someone who can translate spoken word… Berman, R. and Tyska, V. (2011) Murray, C.D. and Wynne, J. (2001)
  • 4. When thinking about hiring an interpreter, ask yourself, what do you need in an interpreter? Have you prepared an adequate interview and training plan to ensure you and your interpreter are starting from the same page? Similar to the bias you need to recognize in yourself as a researcher, the interpreter is a key means of collecting information from participants, and they carry the same elements of bias with them in the field. Like any job or position, it is a good idea to thoroughly interview your interpreter to get a handle on their outlook, their personal biases, and their level of understanding and experience with the topic or area that you will be researching. Furthermore, research can be a very involved process both emotionally and mentally. Ensure your training process involves orientation into the project, and a thorough debrief afterwards. This gives both parties the opportunity to share, reflect, and take care of any unfinished feelings or ideas that are a natural part of the research process. You’re hired!
  • 5. 2. My research shows that the host culture has a really strong caste or social hierarchy, but that shouldn’t matter if I’m from abroad. Both you and the interpreter may be new to the community where you are basing your research, so gaining the trust and understanding of the participants may prove challenging. This is where it may be necessary to employ what Berman and Tyska call either an „insider‟ or “cultural expert”. In this case, the researcher is not the expert– the interpreter is. They achieve expert status by:  Offering insight into the community  Appropriately interpreting how people respond  Getting past the community “gatekeeper”  Facilitating the community‟s perception of you and your research The idea of a „cultural interpreter‟ deepens the importance of finding the right interpreter for your project. Three! Berman, R. and Tyska, V. (2011) Edwards, R. (1998)
  • 6. 3. The interpreter seems professional and tells me what I need, so long as I write things down accurately my data should be reliable. To set yourself up for scientific rigor and data collection success, consider the following: Roles and responsibilities: What is the role of the interpreter in your interviews? Consider your theoretical paradigm:  Positivism views the interpreter as a mechanical medium who is performing a technical act that requires you to eliminate errors or changes to the data.  Social constructivism sees the interpreter as a key informant who is part of the process and who translates actively and mediates the message coming from a participant. In this case, it is important to know their history, skills, and geographical location.  A feminist approach is interested in reducing the power hierarchies between individuals and moving towards inclusivity during the research process. Depending on your paradigm, the extent to which you include your interpreter during the research design and collection process will be effected. Edwards, R. (1998) Grossman, F.K et al, (1999)
  • 7. Experience: does your interpreter understand the scientific process you are attempting? Depending on how participatory you wish the interview process to be you may or may not consider this skillset to be of value. Interview dynamics: During the interview it is important to direct questions and responses to the individual whom you are interviewing. This may mean the interpreter is a passive part of the conversation (it may seem like you‟re ignoring them!). Ensure you brief the interpreter on this ahead of time, so as not to create hurt feelings or a sense of disconnect. Focusing on the participant is of utmost importance, to ensure they feel a sense of trust and comfort in the process. Is your interpreter really bilingual? This may seem like a silly question, but it may be that the interpreter isn‟t quite as bilingual as they have indicated, which will mean the messages they are relaying to you aren‟t accurate. Hiring from a reputable source, a university, from a personal recommendation, or even a travel agency, could help you find a really good interpreter. Know anyone?
  • 8. Mitigating Action DATA COLLECTION: THREATS TO VALIDITY Threat Mitigating Action No suitable word exists in the other language Translate for a response‟s meaning and not literal or structural elements of the phrases. Bias from cultural perspectives Researcher should acclimatize to the culture in advance Questions which are not „value free‟ The questions should also be culturally translated for context accuracy Interpreter takes „creative liberty‟ with responses Proper training will set appropriate expectations for the interpreter Note taking process is slow and cumbersome Consider recording interviews and translating them, have more than one person translate the interview One on one interview elicits odd responses Consider a group setting where participants may feel more free to share their real feelings and thoughts Do you translate the information then transcribe, or the other way around? The researcher must prepare the process of translating information that best suits the situation. Grossman, F.K et al, (1999)
  • 9. 4. My biases and power relation with the ‘participant’ is the most important thing to consider when designing and conducting the interview. Risk from the community: Translators who are helping with research in their own community can be put in a precarious position. It is important to consider how you are viewed, how the interpreter is viewed, and ensure your due-diligence includes minimizing risk to those involved, particularly when considering social dynamics of the community and confidentiality. Power in the middle: The interpreter is really the medium through which a conversation is happening between two people. They therefore can include, omit, reword or further investigate what is being said, but they are also put in the middle of the issues being discussed which could be uncomfortable or problematic for them in the future. Berman, R. and Tyska, V. (2011) Edwards, R. (1998)
  • 10. It may help to consider…  Can I get along with this person for weeks (months?)  Does this interpreter have adequate cultural and language bilingualism?  What gender is most appropriate for this research?  What training, if any, should I expect the interpreter to have (experience abroad, language training, graduate studies, tourist guide)?  Have I researched an appropriate level of remuneration for the interpreter? Before you get started…  Have I adequately briefed my interpreter to the goals and objectives of the research?  Have we covered enough “what ifs”? (What if the participant seems uncomfortable, how can we address that?)  If you are travelling around, what is a reasonable work contract to expect? (Hours per week, remuneration, meals and lodging)  Is it practical to voice record the interviews or write them down?  Have you ensured the interpreter understands privacy implications?  What is the debrief process for when the research is complete? THE PRACTICAL SIDE OF THINGS
  • 11. REFERENCE S Berman, R. and Tyska, V. (2011) A critical reflection on the use of translators /interpreters in a qualitative cross language research project. International Journal of Research Methods, 178-190. Edwards, R. (1998) A critical examination of the use of interpreters in the qualitative research process. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 24, 197-208. Grossman, F.K et al, (1999) Reflections on a feminist research project: Subjectivity and the wish for intimacy and equality. Innovations in feminist psychological research, 117-136. Kapborg, C. et. Al. (2002) Using an interpreter in qualitative interviews: Does it threaten validity? Nursing Inquiry, 9, 52-56. Murray, C.D. and Wynne, J. (2001) Using an interpreter to research community, work and family. Community, Work and Family, 4(2), 157-170.