Inside IPCITI 2011

One of the perks of doing research is that occasionally you have the chance to visit exotic places to attend conferences. Other times, the conference comes to you. That’s what happened last weekend, when a selection of PhD students and staff from Heriot-Watt attended the International Postgraduate Conference in Translation and Interpreting (IPCITI) at Edinburgh University. This event, co-run by Edinburgh University, Heriot-Watt University, Dublin City University and Manchester University brings together PhD students, recent PhD graduates and even some experienced researchers, from all over the world.

So, what’s the point of having conferences like this?

Research is really a team sport. While every PhD has to be the product of the researcher’s own work, we really can’t do a lot without the help of others. As well as learning from the work that others have done by quoting them, researchers benefit from personal interaction. This allows us to swap ideas, receive feedback on our work and better understand what other people are doing.

This is where IPCITI comes in. By bringing together some of the newest researchers in the field, it promotes a supportive, open environment where people can receive honest feedback on what they are doing. This was certainly the case this year.

From Chaucer to Slobodzianek and from interpreter training to historical linguistics, the presentations on offer at IPCITI offered a remarkably varied cross- section of research. There was something for pretty much everyone. This didn’t mean that the arrangement of talks was haphazard or random. Actually, the organisers did a great job of arranging the talks into coherent “panels” or groups to help you make your decision as to where you would go next.

For my part, I had the honour of not only presenting a paper (on improving surveys on what our clients want from us) but also of chairing a panel, keeping the presenters to time and making sure the talks more or less ran to time as well. Add in generous amounts of time for networking and some inspiring plenary talks and you have a very tempting recipe.

Amidst all the presentations and networking, there was also an element of fun to the conference. IPCITI is generally a fairly relaxed affair and the conference meal reinforced this. So it wasn’t all work, work, work. Most translation and interpreting academics are very approachable and happy to chat over coffee.

In short, for anyone with even the slightest interest in what is happening in the field of translation and interpreting, IPCITI is the place to be. After all, a large number of the presentations dealt with matters that students or professionals would be interested in. Richard Bale explored the use of computerised materials to improve student interpreting performance, An-Chi Chen looked at how interpreters improve their performance once they leave university and Magdalena Dombek examined why people help with crowd sourced translations.

There are few places where you can find this kind of cutting-edge research within such a welcoming environment. Next year, the baton passes to Dublin City University. If you are at all interested in translation and interpreting, it is not to be missed.