Sunday 01st of October 2023


Qualitative interviews for investigating translation practices in museums

Chiara Bartolini e Sandra Nauert, University of Bolognapdf_icon_30x30

c.bartolini(at), sandra.nauert(at)

Abstract: Qualitative interviews as a research method are becoming increasingly important in Translation Studies to gain more insights into a wide range of translation-related issues, such as professional practices or the interaction among the stakeholders involved in translation workflows. This paper seeks to promote the adoption of qualitative interviews to investigate translation practices in the museum context by drawing on semi-structured interviews with museum staff from European museums of different types – university museums on the one hand and art museums on the other hand. The aim of the paper is twofold. First, it aims at focusing on the methodological implications of qualitative interviews within TS, and on the adaptations of the method to the needs of a specific research design. The paper shows how different steps of the interview process needed variations on the traditional methodological characteristics of qualitative interviews as used in social sciences. This is in line with Saldanha and O’Brien (2013), who pointed out the need for adaptations when borrowing methodologies from other disciplines. Second, it intends to show how semi-structured interviews may provide novel and often unexpected insights into professional practices, more specifically into the museum’s expectations of translation quality, the interaction among stakeholders, and the translation workflows in general. It is thus highlighted how interviews offer new and unanticipated insights, which would hardly emerge by employing other methods, such as questionnaires or text analysis. In fact, the strength of qualitative interviews as a method lies in enabling the exchange between researchers and participants. Interviews thus contribute to foster a dialogue between translation-related research and practice, with the possibility of the one feeding into the other.


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