92511 - Research Methods In Translation, Intepreting And Intercultural Studies

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Quality education Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The student - has a working knowledge of the essential theoretical assumptions underlying research on translation, interpreting and intercultural studies - is familiar with the main methods for data collection and analysis in these fields - is able to apply methods and theoretical assumptions appropriately to specific case studies within one or more of the fields of interest - is able to describe the research process and product in written form, in a way that is coherent with the genre conventions of the research article, in English or Italian.

Course contents

The course offers a broad overview of the main research methods used in our discipline, with examples of recent developments in these fields. Participants will be introduced to the essential prerequisites and tools necessary to undertake independent research projects, mainly those leading to the design and writing of a Master's thesis or a PhD proposal.

The contents of the course are organized in two main lines. Line 1 presents the conceptual basis and the state of the art in different fields and approaches within the TIS. Line 2 focuses on practical research training and orientation.

The course can be carried out in two ways: in the first one (way A), half of the grade comes from group activities. This way is a better fit for students whose main objective is to excel in their master's thesis. In the second way (way B), the student is responsible for their own work and has no group work assignments; this line is recommended for students who think they may want to pursue a PhD later.

Week 1

Course overview and welcome

Ways of knowledge, types of research

Disciplines. Social sciences. Applied Sciences

Scientific communities

Requirements for the Master's thesis: expectations, guidelines and structure

Searching for paper and electronic information sources: BITRA

Managing bibliographic references

Way A: Compile a list of relevant indexed journals, leading publishers, databases. Compile a list of master’s theses and PhD dissertations at Unibo and other CIUTI universities.

Way B: Read Pym (2012) and Vandepitte (2013) or an alternative paper (monitored personal choice)

Week 2

Qualitative vs. quantitative research

Introspective research vs. observational research

Case studies, experimental vs. naturalistic environments

Assessing previous dissertations, theses and research projects

Conceptual maps for search questions and domains

Conducting an effective review of specific literature

Way A: Choose a search theme and write a suitable title for it. Identify the notion of translation you will adopt and the kind of search it will be. Justify all of your choices.

Way B: Read Gile (2001) and Halverson (2009) or an alternative paper (monitored personal choice)

Week 3

Introduction to research methods

Selecting a search topic

Aims, objectives, hypotheses. Planning the research

Identifying previous research/studies in a specific area

Formulating preliminary questions and research issues

Selecting and developing a preliminary theoretical framework

Data collection methods and tools for translation and interpretation

Turning your research question into hypotheses

Way A: Outline research methods in three empirical research reports.

Way B: Read Marco (2009) and two additional papers (monitored personal choice)

Week 4

Analyzing data

Using a spreadsheet to calculate data and generate descriptive charts, graphs and descriptive statistical indicators

Discussing results

Rigorous abstraction and inference, caveats, and further research

Ways A and B: Turn in graded assignment I

Way A: Choose a team for the assignment II

Week 5

Technical writing

Academic writing

Style: Compile a list of phrases used in 5 journal articles to introduce previous studies, their topics, research methods, topics and results.

DIT Style norms

Preparation of oral presentations and accompanying scripts

Basics of scholarly public speaking and PowerPoint use

Way A: First oral presentation of a group research proposal.

Way B: First oral presentation of an individual research proposal

Week 6

Development of Translation and Interpreting Studies (TIS)

DIT's research fair 1

Way A: Second oral presentation of a group research proposal.

Way B: Second oral presentation of an individual research proposal.

Week 7

Current hot topics in TIS

DIT's research fair 2

Ways A and B: Turn in graded assignment II

Week 8

Research ethics

Replicability and reproducibility

Open science

Scientific communication: text types (IMRaD)

Research venues

Week 9

Oral group presentations

Free topic 1

Week 10

Poster & individual rapid fire presentations

Free topic 2



Bailey, Stephen. 2011. Academic writing. A handbook for international students, 3rd ed. London: Routledge.

Bhattacherjee, Anol. 2012. Social science research: Principles, methods, and practices. ISBN 978-1475146127. Available at https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=oa_textbooks

Biel, Łucja, Jan Engberg, Rosario Martín Ruano, and Vilelmini Sosoni. 2019. Research methods in legal translation and interpreting. Crossing methodological boundaries. London: Routledge.

Bryman, Alan. 2012. Social research methods, 4th Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hale, Sandra, and Jemina Napier. 2013. Research Methods in Interpreting. A Practical Resource. London: Bloomsbury.

Heard, Stephen B. 2012. The scientist's guide to writing. Princeton: Princeton University press.

Mellinger, Christopher, and Thomas Hanson. 2016. Quantitative research methods in Translation and Interpreting Studies. London: Routledge.

Rojo López, Ana María. 2013. Diseños y métodos de investigación en traducción. Madrid: Síntesis.

Serianni, Luca. 2012. Italiani scritti, 3rd ed. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Saldanha, Gabriella, and Sharon O'Brien. 2013. Research methodologies in Translation Studies. London: Routledge.

Williams, Jenny, and Andrew Chesterman. 2002. The Map – A Beginner’s Guide to Doing Research. Manchester: St Jerome.

Guest speakers may provide additional references tailored to their approach.


Readings for way B

Gile, Daniel. 2001. Useful research for students in T&I institutions. Hermes 26: 97–117.

Halverson, Sandra. 2009. Elements of doctoral training. The logic of the research process, research design, and the evaluation of research quality. The Interpreter and Translator Trainer 3 (1): 79–106.

Marco, Josep. 2009. Training translation researchers. An approach based on models and best practice. The Interpreter and Translator Trainer 3 (1): 13–35

Pym, Anthony. 2013. Research skills in translation studies: What we need training in. Across Languages and Cultures 14 (1): 1–14. DOI 10.1556/Acr.14.2013.1.1

Vandepitte, S.2013. Research competences in Translation Studies. Babel 59 (2): 125–148. DOI 10.1075/babel.59.2.

Teaching methods

The course requires the student to attend 70% of the course. Students are required to be active and participate in proposed exercises.

Assessment methods

Progress assessment will take two ways, depending on the interests of the students. Way A is designed for students who have no previous experience in research and would like to focus on preparing their M.S. thesis. Way B is designed for students who are pursuing or may want to pursue postgraduate training as researchers and/or who start the class with a clear notion of a research project in mind.

In both cases, the evaluation includes two mid-term activities (assignments I and II) and one final activity (assignment 3).

Way A

Assignment I (week 4) – Submission of an individual review of scholarly literature on a topic of your choice: from 1,000 to 2,000 words, worth 25% of the grade.

Students are expected to demonstrate their knowledge of their chosen contents and substantial academic writing skills by producing a well reviewed academic writing essay in the form of a critical literature review. This will require students to think critically about research in the chosen area.

Assignment II (week 7) – Presentation of an initial, written, group research proposal worth 25%. Between 2,000 and 3,000 words, worth 25% of the grade.

Students are expected to submit a draft proposal containing an introduction (contextualization and discussion of the topic, overview of the state of the art), goals, research question (and possible hypotheses), informants, materials and methods, caveats and potential for further research.

Assignment III (week 9) – Oral presentation of the group research proposal from assignment II: 15-minute presentation, worth 25% of the grade.

This assignment builds on the feedback students received for the second assignment, with the expectation that both the theoretical framework and the research methods sections will be improved and fine-tuned. Students are expected to be able to defend their choices with respect to the theoretical framework and research methods, thus demonstrating that they are at the forefront of the theoretical and research knowledge necessary to conduct translation or interpretation studies. In addition, students are expected to demonstrate that they are able to provide an effective research presentation.

The additional 25% of the grade will come from at least two oral presentations in class.

Way B

Assignment I (week 4) – Submission of a discussion of reading assignments 1-5 plus the two additional texts located chosen by each student under the supervision of the instructor. From 2,000 to 3,000 words, worth 25%.

Assignment II (week 7) – Presentation of an individual research proposal: between 3,000 and 4,000 words, worth 25%.

This assignment involves the submission of a well-developed research proposal that includes a clear statement of the research question(s); a well-argued justification for the research; the location of the proposed research in relation to prior studies in the area; a suitable research design; ways of analysis and potential conclusions, including including key assumptions and limitations of the project; and ethical considerations, if relevant, accompanied by core bibliography.

Assignment III (week 10) – Oral presentation of a poster describing a PhD research project.

This assignment consists of presenting assignment II orally for five minutes in front of an audience of students and the teacher, and later engaging in a round of questions and answers with the audience. Worth 25% of the grade.

The additional 25% of the grade will come from at least two oral presentations in class.

Learning assessment scale

30-30 e lode. The candidate possesses an in-depth knowledge of the topic, an outstanding ability to apply theoretical concepts, a high level of argumentative clarity, as well as excellent analytical skills, and a well-developed ability to synthesize and establish interdisciplinary connections.

27 – 29. The candidate possesses an in-depth knowledge of the topic, a sound ability to apply theoretical concepts, good analytical skills, clear argumentative clarity and an ability to synthesize.

24 - 26. The candidate possesses a fair knowledge of the topic, a reasonable ability to apply theoretical concepts correctly and present ideas clearly.

21 - 23. The candidate possesses an adequate, but not in-depth, knowledge of the topic, a partial ability to apply theoretical concepts, and acceptable presentation skills.

18 - 20. The candidate possesses a barely adequate and only superficial knowledge of topic, limited presentation skills, and only an inconsistent ability to apply theoretical concepts.

< 18 insufficiente. Fail. The candidate possesses an inadequate knowledge of the topic, makes significant errors in applying theoretical concepts, and shows weak presentation skills.


Teaching tools

Lessons will take place in a classroom equipped with computer support and Internet connection.

Office hours

See the website of Ricardo Munoz Martin