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Abstract

Although the number of multilingual qualitative research studies appears to be growing, investigations concerned with methodological issues arising from the use of several languages within a single research are still very scarce. Most of these seem to deal exclusively with issues related to the use of interpreters and translators in qualitative research (e.g., Temple & Edwards, 2002; Temple, Edwards & Alexander, 2006; Edwards, 1998; Temple & Young 2004). Methodological investigations going beyond pure translation dilemmas in qualitative research are, however, almost non-existent. The reason for this seems to be simple: the situation where the researcher possesses mother-tongue fluency in all or most of the languages used in a particular study – and, thus, is in a position to probe interpretational and representational problematics related to the multilingual character of this study with an adequate depth – is very rare. The author of this paper has used her recent qualitative research work in the area of Information Systems as the basis for a meta-study in which she investigates selected methodological issues resulting from the use of five different languages within the frame of a single research work. This paper specifically focuses on challenges encountered and observations made concerning three different issues, namely, how to choose the interview languages in a situation where the prospective interviewees have very diverse ethnic backgrounds, which languages to use for the data analysis in a situation where the data has been collected in several different languages, and how to determine the most appropriate stage of the research for transitioning from the languages used to collect and analyze the data to the language of the final research product. Although this meta-study is based on an Information Systems research work and is, thus, specifically addressing qualitative Information Systems researchers conducting multilingual research and encountering language-related issues in their work, this study might also be of interest to any researcher using qualitative research methodologies and employing more than one language to collect data, conduct data analysis, and craft the final research product.

Keywords

Multilingual Research, Inquiry Language, Source Language, Target Language, Mediating Language

Publication Date

10-15-2012

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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