Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

Combining Different Methods of Data Collection in Public Service Interpreting Doctoral Research: Examples from the Spanish Context

Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

Combining Different Methods of Data Collection in Public Service Interpreting Doctoral Research: Examples from the Spanish Context

Article excerpt

Abstract: During the past ten years, public service interpreting (PSI) has become a flourishing field of research. Different kinds of studies have explored issues such as the role of public service interpreters, accuracy and deviations in their renditions, or primary participants' views on and expectations of PSI. In terms of research methods, it is becoming increasingly popular to combine different data collection methods in the field of PSI, especially in large research projects. The aim of this article is to describe how multiple datasets have been used in a sample of studies. It presents a review of PhD dissertations in Spain that have combined different kinds of surveys, focus groups and/or direct observation. This is followed by a description of how a multimethod approach can contribute to the advance of PSI research and how it can compensate for the limitations of certain single-method approaches to PSI. It argues that, while multimethod research may be more demanding and time-consuming from the researcher's point of view, it is more effective in terms of providing a holistic view of the object of study.

Keywords: public service interpreting, community interpreting, qualitative research, PhD dissertations, triangulation, multimethod approach

1. Introduction

Research into public service interpreting (PSI), also known as community interpreting, has multiplied and diversified over the past ten years. Different kinds of studies have explored issues such as the role of public service interpreters, accuracy and deviations in their renditions, or primary participants' views and expectations of PSI, to name but just a few. As Hale (2007) observes, certain approaches stand out: discourse analysis of the transcriptions of interpreted interactions, ethnography, survey research and experimental approaches (p.204). While PSI is consolidating itself as a field of research within the broader discipline of Translation and Interpreting Studies, it is also at the stage where we can see an increase in the use of multimethod studies, perhaps as a result of increased research funding in the field and the availability of a critical mass of trained researchers.

Combining various data collection methods is becoming popular in the field of PSI, especially in extended research projects such as internationally funded projects or PhD dissertations. This article presents a review of PhD dissertations conducted in Spanish institutions that have relied on multiple data collection tools, combining different kinds of surveys, focus groups and/or direct observation. This could be regarded as a multimethod approach to PSI. The label 'multimethod approach' refers to research that employs more than one method of data collection or research in a study. Hale and Napier (2013) suggest that 'multimethod research' is a synonym for 'mixed methods' (p.210). However, 'mixed methods' seems to be more related to the mix of qualitative and quantitative paradigms (in both data collection and analysis), while the 'multimethod' approach may fall under one of these paradigms (typically the qualitative), and simply imply the use of different methods of data collection and analysis under that specific paradigm.

According to Brewer & Hunter (2006), "[i]ts fundamental strategy is to attack a research problem with an arsenal of methods that have non-overlapping weaknesses in addition to their complementary strengths." (p. 4). That is, the purpose of using more than one method is to compensate for the possible limitations resulting from adopting only one particular method. For the purpose of this article, the term 'multimethod approach' is used to refer mainly to the combination of different data collection methods in one specific study, although its actual meaning is broader and includes analytical methods. As Brewer and Hunter (2006) point out, applying different methods often requires some kind of 'triangulation' (or triangulated measurement in the authors' words): a strategy which "tries to pinpoint the values of a phenomenon more accurately by sighting in on it from different methodological viewpoints" (pp. …

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