Methodological and ethical challenges in cross-language qualitative research: The role of interpreters

Björn Rúnar Egilsson, Sue Dockett, Jóhanna Einarsdóttir

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Interpretation in cross-language qualitative research presents a range of methodological and ethical challenges. Among these are the interpreters’ influence on data generation and interview power dynamics. Having translators review and/or produce an independent translation of recorded interview material for comparative purposes is regarded as one of the ways researchers can control for these challenges. However, there are other reasons why translations of interpreted materials are valuable. This paper explores these issues by reporting an interview focused on investigating the experiences of a non-Icelandic family as their child made the transition to an Icelandic preschool. In this case, the interpreter influenced data generation in a semi-structured interview; a situation that was only fully revealed in follow-up translation. The findings suggest that while the follow-up translation demonstrates discrepancies and the interpreter’s tendency to modify both questions and responses during the interview, comparative analysis of the oral interpretation and translation of the interview text opens up new dimensions in the data that would otherwise have gone unnoticed by the researcher.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)638-652
    Number of pages15
    JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2021


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