[CFP] Translation of questionnaires in cross-national and cross-cultural research

Call for Papers: Translation of questionnaires in cross-national and cross-cultural research


As of now, few translation scholars have tried to reconcile translation studies and the field of questionnaire translation (Behr, 2009; Bolaños-Medina & González-Ruiz, 2012; Dorer, 2016; Kussmaul, 2007; Ozolins, 2009; Przepiórkowska, 2016). The Journal Translation & Interpreting stands out among the translation journals in having provided a unique platform for the first kinds of interdisciplinary exchanges (Ozolins, 2009; Baird & Skariah, 2016; Sha & Lai, 2016). This special issue aims at further building this bridge and the body of literature.

Translation of questionnaires in cross-national and cross-cultural research is increasingly important in the social sciences, psychology, quality of life research, education research and business studies. Cross-national/cultural studies are used to comparing countries, cultures or other groups across different dimensions (e.g., Smith, 2010; van de Vijver, 2013). These studies help identify commonalities or differences and enhance our understanding of phenomena such as attitudes and opinions (towards democracy, family, or migration), values, (health or consumer) behaviour or (reading or arithmetic) competencies in a cross-cultural perspective. As part of these studies, questionnaires are typically translated or adapted from a common source language (mostly English) into the languages of the participating countries or cultures. This type of translation follows best practice unfamiliar to other translation industries, such as parallel translation, team discussions and extensive quantitative and qualitative pretesting (Behr & Shishido, 2016; Harkness, Villar, & Edwards, 2010; Sha, 2016). The field of questionnaire translation has methodologically evolved as part of the above mentioned subject matter disciplines, but there is hardly any interdisciplinary exchange between these disciplines and translation studies, even though it has been highly recommended for a long time by cross-cultural survey methodologists (Harkness, 2003). As a result, necessary knowledge transfer is missing, including cross-fertilization and shared trust between disciplines. The proposed special issue seeks to fill this gap.

This special issue aims at fostering interdisciplinary exchange by presenting research, practices and challenges in the field of questionnaire translation from different perspectives. It is hoped to provoke further collaboration, discussions and developments to enhance the comparability of collected data and, consequently, conclusions drawn based on these data. Also, since questionnaires are translated for a research purpose we are interested in identifying and eliminating errors which can affect data quality. If errors (from linguistic to more or less hidden cultural ones) occur, they can bias the results and lead to wrong conclusions, which may have an impact on policy advice, health treatments, or cultural classifications.

Contributions (empirical studies, practice, theory, transfer) are requested on the following topics:

–        Interplay between questionnaire design and translation;

–        Translation and assessment methodology (team approaches, back translation, expert review, pretesting, translator profiles, etc.);

–        Effects of (poor) translation on data quality and analyses;

–        The text type ‘questionnaire’ and its particularities;

–        Transfer of processes and knowledge from other text types to questionnaires;

–        Translation vs. adaptation of questionnaires (cultural factors at work);

–        Translating questionnaires for migrants;

–        Computer-based tools and support for questionnaire translation;

–        Adapting translation in Computer-Assisted Interviewing (CAI), Web, and mobile surveys;

–        Quality assurance & quality control and risk management; and

–        Questionnaire translation in different fields (social sciences, health research, psychology, business, etc.)

We welcome full-length papers of up to 6,000 words (APA style). Please consider when writing your article that this special issue has a threefold readership–those coming from traditional translation, cross-cultural survey methodology, and subject matter expert fields. Please submit your paper by 14 August 2017 to the journal’s submission system: http://www.trans-int.org/index.php/transint/information/authors


The guest editors:

Dr. Dorothée Behr is a senior researcher at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Mannheim, Germany. She holds a diploma in Translation Studies (studies at Universities of Mainz and Heidelberg, Trinity College Dublin, Institut Supérieur d’Interprétation et de Traduction, Paris) and a doctorate in Applied Translation Studies (University of Mainz). Her research and services focus on questionnaire translation, translation assessment methodology and the reconciliation between cross-cultural survey methodology and translation studies. Furthermore, she is involved in a project where item equivalence is assessed by innovative online methods. Previous large-scale projects, in which she was responsible for steering questionnaire translation activities in international consortia, include the European Social Survey (ESS) and the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Furthermore, she was involved in developing items for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015. From 2015-2016, she served as an interim professor for Applied Translation Studies at the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences (Germany). Beyond that, she regularly gives workshops and lectures on questionnaire translation. Her recent publications appeared in Field Methods and the SAGE Handbook of Survey Methodology.


Mandy Sha is a senior survey methodologist at RTI International, United States, and received a Master of Arts in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. For the past decade, she has been leading large-scale research studies that focused on language, technology, and hard-to-reach populations to improve the coverage of the U.S. population. She is specialized in data collection instrument design, evaluation, and translation in multiple languages and in multiple modes, most notably in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Arabic. Her research about Arabic language translation was recently reported by the Pew Research Center (June 2016). Ms. Sha co-chairs the Cross-cultural and multilingual research affinity group that fosters scientific stature among members of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). She is Special Issue editor for AAPOR’s e-journal Survey Practice on cross-cultural and multilingual research, to be published in the summer of 2017. Her recent publications also appeared in Field Methods and Translation & Interpreting.



Baird, M. B., & Skariah, E. (2016). Translating the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 (HSCL-25) into Dinka, a South Sudanese Tribal Language. Translation & Interpreting, 8, 2, 96–109.

Behr, D. (2009). Translationswissenschaft und international vergleichende Umfrageforschung : Qualitätssicherung bei Fragebogenübersetzungen als Gegenstand einer Prozessanalyse. [Doctoral Dissertation: Translation Studies and Cross-national Survey Research: a Process Analysis of Quality Assurance of questionnaires]. Bonn: GESIS. http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-261259

Behr, D., & Shishido, K. (2016). The Translation of Measurement Instruments for Cross-cultural Surveys. In C. Wolf, D. Joye, T. W. Smith, & Y. Fu (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Survey Methodology (pp. 269–287). London: Sage.

Bolaños-Medina, A., & González-Ruiz, V. (2012). Deconstructing the Translation of Psychological Tests. Meta: journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators’ Journal, 57(3), 715–739.

Dorer, B. (2015). Carrying Out ‘Advance Translations’ to Detect Comprehensibility Problems in a Source Questionnaire of a Cross-national Survey. In K. Maksymski, S. Gutermuth, & S. Hansen-Schirra (Eds.), Translation and Comprehensibility (pp. 77–112). Berlin: Frank & Timme.

Harkness, J. (2003). Questionnaire Translation. In J. Harkness, F. J. R. van de Vijver & P. Ph. Mohler (Eds.), Cross-cultural Survey Methods (pp. 35–56). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Harkness, J. A., Villar, A., & Edwards, B. (2010). Translation, Adaptation, and Design. In J. A. Harkness, M. Braun, B. Edwards, T. P. Johnson, L. Lyberg, P. Ph. Mohler, B.-E. Pennell & T. W. Smith (Eds.), Survey Methods in Multinational, Multiregional, and Multicultural Contexts (pp. 117–140). Hoboken, NJ.

Kussmaul [Kußmaul], P. (2007). Risikomanagement beim Übersetzen sozialwissenschaftlicher Umfragen. [Risk Management for Translation in Social Science Surveys]. In G. Wodjak (Ed.), Quo vadis Translatologie? Ein halbes Jahrhundert universitärer Ausbildung von Dolmetschern und Übersetzern in Leipzig (pp. 235–253). Berlin: Frank & Timme.

Ozonlins, U. (2009). Back Translation as a Means of Giving Translators a Voice. Translation & Interpreting, 1(2), 1–13.

Przepiórkowska, D. (2016). Translation of Questionnaires in Cross-national Social Surveys: a Niche with its own Theoretical Framework and Methodology. Między Oryginałem a Przekładem, 31, 121–135.

Sha, M., & Lai, L. (2016). A Case Study of Improving and Evaluating Consumer Survey Translation. Translation & Interpreting, 8, 2, 86–100.

Smith, T. W. (2010). The Globalization of Survey Research. In J. A. Harkness, M. Braun, B. Edwards, T. P. Johnson, L. Lyberg, P. Ph. Mohler, B.-E. Pennel, & T. W. Smith (Eds.), Survey Methods in Multinational, Multiregional, and Multicultural Contexts (pp. 477–487). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

van de Vijver, F. J .R. (2013). Contributions of Internationalization to Psychology: Toward a Global and Inclusive Discipline. American Psychologist, November, 761770.