Conference contribution
Ten Years of French Harmonization in the ESS
LE CORGNE Simon - Centre de données socio-politiques de Sciences Po (Author)
ITALIANO Patrick - University of Liege (Author)
POLLIEN Alexandre - Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS) (Author)
Conferance name
ESRA - European Survey Research Association
Conference date(s)
2019-07-15 / 2019-07-19
Conference place
Université de Zagreb, CROATIA
Questionnaire translation, translation tools, translation quality, comparability
The European Social Survey (ESS) is an academically driven cross-national survey conducted every second year across Europe, in which Belgium, France and Switzerland all participate since the first round in 2002. Since ESS measures attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of populations in over thirty countries, comparative analysis between the different national contexts and over time is crucial and methodologically demanding. In order to ensure the validity of the comparison, a key methodological condition relates to translations. ESS uses pragmatically equivalent questionnaires, that is translations aimed at maintaining the intended measurement properties rather than literal translations. The source questionnaire is designed in English and translated following the TRAPD methodology (Translation, Review, Adjudication, Pretesting and Documentation). After each country has reviewed two own, independent translations, a harmonization meeting takes place between countries sharing the same language. For the French version of the questionnaire, Belgium, France and Switzerland are involved. The aim of this meeting is to agree on a common French questionnaire as similar as possible and understandable in the same way across the three countries. Through a deep and detailed review of the work during these harmonisation sessions, this presentation proposes to take a critical look at the issues in need of decision-making during the process toward a shared French version. Over the years, we have been confronted with multiple and varied situations, which have implied concerted decision-making regarding the harmonization of translation. Through a typology of the discrepancies encountered, and the associated decision-making procedures, choices toward an expected convergence or differences to be preserved, we intend to propose a descriptive analysis of our practice aimed at identifying sources of difficulties in the translation process, in order to help the upstream work of disambiguating the source questionnaire and to guide the translation instructions.