Dr Prue Holmes, Durham University

 

“Researching Multilingually” is an AHRC Research Networking project that aims to explore how cultures are translated through research and data collection processes. Many researchers nowadays find themselves in research contexts where there are multilingual communities, or they are working on projects that involve people and/or events in other cultures. In these situations, they often find that they need to conduct interviews in another language, or use a language which is foreign to interviewees; or they may be required to interpret or translate a dialogue, event or document from one language to another. In these contexts researchers are often faced with methodological, practical, and ethical dilemmas as to how to interpret and explain differences in linguistic intent and meaning. Similarly, participants in these projects sometimes feel that they have been misrepresented through processes of translation and interpretation. Thus, the potential for misinterpretation and misunderstanding in translating cultures-through language-is immense. Yet little information about these linguistic processes is available, either in the literature or via research methods training programmes.

This research network project aims to address this research gap by inviting 36 researchers to discuss the complexities and challenges they face in researching multilingually. We aim to expose-in three two-day seminars-best practice and pitfalls in researching multilingually. Researchers will be invited to discuss research design, instruments, data collection and generation, interpretation and translation, and writing up of research. The project team will synthesise the emergent findings and develop recommendations and guidelines for researching multilingually.

These outcomes will be disseminated to the AHRC research community, public/private/third sector research organisations, and Doctoral Training Centres via a workshop. Network project findings/outcomes will also be posted on the network website so that they can be implemented by all researchers, and researching training programmes, e.g., in higher education. The network project will also result in international conferences and publications. An intended development will include a follow-up project where selected researchers’ seminars will be published in a special issue of an international, peer-reviewed journal and an edited book. Overall, the outcomes of the research network project will result in improved understanding, reporting, and representation of people of other languages and the cultures in which they reside.

 

Project website

IACLIC page

RCUK Gateway to Research