Research and Professional Translators and Interpreters: An odd couple?

If research is so great ... why doesn't everyone know about it?That is a question I asked at the recent BAAL conference. Without fail, all the researchers here in LINCS, from the newest PhD student to the most experienced professor feel that research is not only interesting but useful too. We have seen projects on lifting standards in police interpreting, improving public service interpreting training, ethics and user expectations. These projects have all aimed not just to look at what is going on in “real-world” translation or interpreting but to point the way towards change.

Yet the sad fact is that, even if researchers were to discover a way to revolutionise the industry overnight and triple the pay of translators and interpreters, their work is likely to fall on deaf ears. With a few exceptions, few translation and interpreting professionals will wake up with a great urge to read research journals or comb over a book of conference abstracts. Like it or not, most research is carried out by researchers, read by researchers and applied by researchers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Many of the projects going on in LINCS today and even some that are now completed have taken place in partnership with non-academics. These might be police officers, interpreting users or even interpreters themselves. From the outset then, these projects have involved professionals in work that interests them, includes them and hopefully can have a positive effect on them.

But much more needs to be done. Only a few weeks ago, this blog hosted a lively discussion on why deaf people often don’t get involved with research on deafness or sign language. Now it is time to throw the net out in another direction. If you are a professional translator or interpreter, what are the major barriers that put you off getting involved in research or even reading it? What topics do you wish research covered? What would be the best way for researchers to appeal to you?

Over to you.