Monthly Archives: abril, 2011

The times, they are a-changin’ (1/3)

abril 30th, 2011 Posted by aside to camera, blog, internet, journals, research No Comment yet

The printing press was one of the major inventions that took humankind out of the darkness of the Middle Ages and into a more egalitarian, learned modern era. Many people think that the Internet is but leading to a comparable or even greater revolution (e.g. Bawden & Robinson 2000, Dewar 2010). And so it seems, by the looks of the sweeping democratic revolutions taking place in many countries, which might well be heralding the beginning of deep changes at home too.

Many colleagues are at odds. Some think that the new scholarship 2.0 is just a fad (Wheeler 2008), while others think new media can and must change universities in the 21st century (Thompson 2009). What is sure is that, just as the printing press enlarged the number of readers and shrank physical and 

cultural distances, the Internet is widening and strengthening the ties amongst distant members of scientific communities in ways that were just unthinkable back in 1989, when I sent my first e-mail to a friend sitting in front of another computer across the hall. Let us start with scholarly e-journals.

Scholarly e-journals

Scholarly e-journals seem to be the digital counterparts of their print forebears: their focus on research, their author style guides, their double blind peer reviews—uh, yes, and their ISSNs—make us feel that they are pretty much the same. Not quite, though, you may object, for we need to read in front of a screen. Also, electronic sources are not easy to cite, and Internet addresses are often bulky and always ugly. And then we also get this gut feeling of the ephemeral: Sic transit gloria mundi.

On the other hand, they have some important pros. Remember the mixed feelings of finally seeing your article published when you already knew better or thought differently? Well, e-journals are much faster at delivering content. This is so because, in contrast to using snail-mail, turning in a paper to an e-journal is often just a breeze (e.g. IEEE). That is especially important for reviews, which are often published in print when most addressees have already made up their minds about the reviewed text. The peer review system has also become automated (e.g. Mutatis Mutandis) and there are plenty of tools for typesetting and online publishing in general.

Another reason for this faster pace is that e-journals do not need to fit content into a fixed number of pages every x months. For instance, the forum on shared ground, which spanned from Target 12:1 (2000) to Target 14:1 (2002), would probably have taken just an (evolving) issue in an online format. In fact, many e-journals have ceased to impose (strict) limits on the length of the articles. More importantly, scholarly contributions are not constrained to words or still images any longer, and they may include video (e.g. JOVE) and other materials, such as audio or eye tracking files (e.g. JETVCE)

New features

Some e-journals offer new interactive possibilities, such as appending public comments to articles, (e.g. PloS ONE), or entering such comments in a discussion list. E-publishing can in fact be too fast. Thus, interaction may also take place before submitting manuscripts for publication. There are many repositories for preprints or working papers, such as arXiv and PhilSci-Archive, which authors use to gather feedback from their peers before they submit their (improved) work somewhere else. Some e-journals even have this interaction built in their peer review system (e.g. JIME, Ocean Science, Economics; see Nwagwu 2006).

Last, but not least, e-journals offer many advantages at handling copy. Searching through the issues, copying quotes, compiling bibliographies, sorting and storing articles is simply much easier. C’mon, you even have customizable publisher alerts! (search through your library). In brief, e-journals are now a must (Williams, Nicholas & Rowlands 2010). That is why print journals, such as Meta and Translation & Interpreting Studies, are offering now online tables of contents and abstracts of all issues. Often, new print journals, such as Translation Spaces, are hybrids supported by their own websites and blogs. More on this topic here.

Translation Studies already has quite a list of peer-reviewed e-journals, but only a couple of them have reached stardom. The cause does not seem to be their e-format, nor an alleged crisis in the peer review system (Ware 2011). It is not because of the tension between open access and toll access either. The reasons might rather be related to the scarce specialization of the journals (but see, e.g. IJIE, Tradumàtica). That is, exactly the same problem of their print neighbors and predecessors, a problem that electronic formats may easily solve because distance between like-minded peers and publishing costs are not an issue any longer, 'cause the times, they are a-changin'.

References

  • Bawden, David & Lyn Robinson. 2000. A distant mirror? the Internet and the printing press. @ Aslib Proceedings 52/2: 51–57.
  • Dewar, James A. 1998. The Information Age and the printing press. Looking backward to see ahead. RAND corporation Report # P-8014. @ http://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P8014.html
  • Nwagwu, Williams. 2006. Peer-review and the electronic journal: Opportunities for the participation of developing countries’ scientists in mainstream science. @ Africa Media Review 14/1&2: 73–93.
  • Thompson, Gary. 2009. How the Internet (our 21st century printing press) can and must transform universities. @ http://cloudinc.org/ecosystems/article/how-the-internet-our-21st-century-printing-press-can-and-must-transform-universities
  • Wheeler, Brad. 2008. E-Research Is a Fad: Scholarship 2.0, Cyberinfrastructure, and IT Governance. @ R N Katz, ed. The tower and the cloud: Higher education in the age of Cloud Computing. Boulder (CO): EDUCAUSE, pp 108–117.
  • Williams, Peter; David Nicholas & Ian Rowlands. 2010. E-Journal usage and impact in scholarly research: A review of the Literature . @ New Review of Academic Librarianship 16/2: 192–207.

Danger, no trespassing

abril 29th, 2011 Posted by blog No Comment yet

On a gate at the feet of the Alhambra, 2002.
Picture taken by and courtesy of Bart De Rooze.

Writing an exposé

abril 26th, 2011 Posted by aims, blog, exposé, hypotheses, methods, PhD project, state of the art, The sorcerer's apprentice No Comment yet

Once you have found your doctoral advisor, you can start writing the exposé, i.e., a summary of your first thoughts on the PhD project. Depending on the country or even the university you are in, you may need to present it and have it approved by a committee, or else you may want to send it to some important scholar to convince her to become your supervisor. In any case, it will

be very useful to you, to clarify your ideas. You should always bear in mind that what you are going to put down in your exposé are just preliminary notions. Also, before you get into this jungle, there is something you should be aware of:
There is no explicit model for an exposé
[sudden drum banging in the dark]
Of course, that does not mean there is no structure at all. There is simply considerable variation, depending on the norms, traditions, etc., of the place you are in. In Europe, you may ask your advisor or university department for detailed information, but do not expect there will be something like the great Writing Lab at Purdue. At least, not in every university (but see Toronto’s and Victoria’s, though). Do not give up hope if you are given no information or just a couple of vague hints on this topic. Take it as your first quest for the holy grail.
Although there are no black-on-white rules on the contents and structure of an exposé, at least there seems to be some kind of consensus regarding the need to include at least the following sections:
project topic
state of the art
aim(s)
hypotheses/problems
method(s)
bibliography
Other points, such as a sketch of the dissertation structure, work plan, and so on, is usually optional, or a specific requirement of your institution. Let us have a closer look on these points.

Project topic
You need a concise working title for your project. If somewhat obscure, you may explain the meaning of the title in your introduction. To avoid extra work, it is always a good idea to draft the introduction at the end, so you already know which information you need to summarize.

State of the art
Here you should concentrate on the following questions:
Which related topics have been investigated until now?
Which points or aspects have not been researched (enough) and are therefore desiderata?

Aim(s) - The question is… Why?
In this section you will spell out your project aims, the reasons to embark on such a project, what you expect from it. Generally, scientific aims tend to focus on verifying or falsifying hypotheses or they attempt to find some answers to clearly stated problems. You could consider other possible aims regarding your project (e.g., practical or didactic ones).

Hypotheses/Problems – The question is… What?
Since you are aiming to find answers to your stated hypothesis or problems, you need to make them clear from the beginning by explaining what you have found out on the topic and what led you to your conclusions.

Method(s) – The question is… How?
Your aims and objects of study define the methods applied. There are mainly two scientific methods of which one would be applied to your project:

empirical-inductive
You conclude general theoretical rules on the basis of empirical observations. For example, translation experiment results show that there are differences in problem-solving between professional and non-professional translators; now you would have to establish some rules, theories or hypotheses on these observations.

theoretical-deductive
You would propose a theory or hypothesis first and then investigate it empirically, e.g., you would state that there are differences in problem-solving between professional and non-professional translators and then verify or falsify this statement based on the results of an empirical experiment.
If you want to do empirical research, you should specify your materials. In cognitive translatology, this would concern, for example, subjects, source text(s), experimental environment, data collection tools and methods (e.g. key logging, questionnaires, eye-tracking, to name a few).

Bibliography
At the end of your exposé, you should give complete information on every source you cited in your proposal. More often than not there are strict norms and requisites for the bibliography. You may complain about it, but that is the way it is: hating bibliography norms seems to be part of being a scholar, so you are getting closer!

Further reading
Chesterman, A. (2001). Empirical research methods in Translation Studies. Erikoiskielet ja käännösteoria (VAKKI-symposiumi XX), 27, 9-22.
Jääskeläinen, R. & Tirkkonen-Condit, S. (1991). Automatised processes in professional vs. non-professional translation: A think-aloud protocol study. In S. Tirkkonen-Condit (Ed.): Empirical Research in Translation and Intercultural Studies. Tübingen: Narr, 89-109.
Neunzig, W. (2002). Estudios empíricos en traducción: apuntes metodológicos. In F. Alves (Ed.): O proceso de traducão. Cadernos de Traducão, 10, 75-96.
Nünning, A. & Sommer, R. (Eds.) (2007). Handbuch Promotion – Forschung – Förderung – Finanzen. Stuttgart: Metzler.
Nussbaum, M. A. (2010). How To Write a (Thesis/Dissertation) Proposal. URL: http://filebox.vt.edu/users/nussbaum/subpages/ProposalHowTo.pdf
Pries, L. (2007). Wie schreibe ich ein Exposé? URL: http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/sozomm/dateien/studium_hinweise_expose.pdf
Research Proposal Guide. URL: http://researchproposalguide.com/

Research & the market

abril 16th, 2011 Posted by aside to camera, blog, market, research No Comment yet

Now and then it feels like some of the topics we have been researching came as a freebie in the same package of the methods we imported. Take problem solving—a nice example, since so much effort has been devoted to it. Problem solving and decision-taking seem to have come wrapped with think-aloud techniques and protocols and all in a ready-made set which did not necessarily respond to established interests, testable hypotheses, construct

validation needs or theoretical development plans within cognitive translatology.

True, research methods condition what can be studied. Conversation analysis, for instance, may have focused on turn taking and sequence organization (adjacency pairs and the like) simply because videotaping quality in the 1960s and the 70s was pretty much the same we have in our cell phones today. Thus, researchers at the time seemed to prefer tape-recorded (mainly phone) dyadic conversations, for they provided much better audio quality, even though image was lost. The choice certainly colored the way CA developed. In our case, think-aloud techniques were very well suited to capture comments on conscious mental experience and that meant that interiorized, procedural knowledge was to be sacrificed. So that was it.

Problem solving is very interesting, that is out of question. What I doubt is whether directly isolating problematic text segments and classifying them or else qualitatively delving in their circumstances will yield any significant results, mainly because the psychological frameworks for problem-solving and creativity being applied seem in need of a thorough shake and update. Corpora techniques may today help us look into text segments which are unproblematic for experts but not so for non-experts, and new data gathering techniques might help us get closer to what is going on in the translators’ minds. New tempora, new mores.

Screen recording, keylogging and eye-tracking techniques for collecting translation process data have appeared in the relatively short time span of a decade, and their potential needs to be explored. Hence, methodology is all the buzz. Even on a conservative account, about half of the sixty-odd entries in Hansen’s select select TPR bibliography focus on research methods. Once books, meta-research analyses, guides and bibliography are also removed, the remaining 18 entries may be considered a still shot of what was going on in cognitive translatology in the last decade (the 00s?).

The picture is as varied as one could expect: revision, emotions, time pressure, writing, parallels between translation and interpreting, pedagogy, evaluation, some construct validational testing, you name it. Now, one of the things that stand out from this and other lists is that only very few articles in them seem likely to attract the attention of somebody else than a cognitive translatologist. One of the welcome exceptions is O’Brien (2006), which shows why cognitive translatology is relevant for CAT.

Comparisons between professionals or experts and trainees—four entries in Hansen’s biblio, big time topic—are useful to find out what makes experts different from laypeople. The ultimate goal may be how to get some people in the second group somehow become part of the first one. Here, the operative word is somehow. But translator employers seem to be interested only in the skills newcomers do have, not in the way they acquired them, so these pieces of work do not really count as profession-oriented TPR for them.

There does not seem to be a specific reason for cognitive translatology to stay away from professional concerns. Some topics such as mental fatigue due to task length have been devoted some efforts in simultaneous interpreting (Moser-Mercer, Künzli & Korac 1998; AIIC 2002, summarized in Mackintosh s.d.) and definitely deserve more attention. To my knowledge, Petra Klimant’s ongoing research may be an all-time first attempt to extend this thread to translators (corrections welcomed). So this seems to be a promising path, one of the several tracks we need to tread to get out of the ivory tower. There are other topics, such as the influence of computing on mental processing, cognitive implications of CAT tool design, sight-translating + transcribing vs. translating (compare to Gorm Hansen & Dragsted 2007) and so on. So let’s get the ball rolling. Let us show them why they should be interested in what we do.

References
Gorm Hansen, Inge & Barbara Dragsted. 2007. Speaking your translation: Exploiting synergies between translation and interpreting. F Pöchhacker, AL Jakobsen & IM Mees, eds. Interpreting studies and beyond: A tribute to Miriam Shlesinger. Copenhagen: Samfunslitteratur, pp. 251-274.
Moser-Mercer, Barbara, Alexander Künzli & Marina Korac. 1998. Prolonged turns in interpreting: Effects on quality, physiological and psychological stress (Pilot study). Interpreting 3/1: 47-64.
O’Brien, Sharon. 2006. Eye-tracking and translation memory matches. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 14/3: 185-205.

“Defensa apasionada del idioma español” de Alex Grijelmo

abril 15th, 2011 Posted by blog, book, language, spanish, Sudden reviews No Comment yet

Alex Grijelmo se muestra en este libro, ante todo, como un excelente divulgador que consigue, mediante un texto claro y ameno, iniciar al lector en el estudio de la lengua española. Para ello, el autor mezcla un poco de todo, desde la historia de nuestro idioma hasta valoraciones de las reformas gramaticales propuestas, enhebrándolo mediante una fértil metáfora que asimila el idioma a un ser vivo, provisto de genética, genes y cromosomas. También abundan las opiniones personales y, en ocasiones, los razonamientos propuestos por el autor son cuestionables y se acercan peligrosamente a la demagogia. No obstante, es de admirar la valentía con la que se abordan temas espinosos (como por ejemplo la diversidad de españoles que conviven actualmente en el mundo).

Aunque las opiniones expresadas sean con frecuencia discutibles, resulta refrescante que no se caiga en la ultracorrección política que tan frecuente es últimamente y,

si bien las respuestas ofrecidas por el autor no siempre son convincentes, las preguntas que se plantean son sumamente interesantes y pueden servir de punto de partida para reflexiones propias. En cualquier caso, ya sea como iniciación a la lingüística para lectores legos o como lectura de verano para redescubrir el amor por las palabras, es un libro absolutamente recomendable.Alex Grijelmo se muestra en este libro, ante todo, como un excelente divulgador que consigue, mediante un texto claro y ameno, iniciar al lector en el estudio de la lengua española. Para ello, el autor mezcla un poco de todo, desde la historia de nuestro idioma hasta valoraciones de las reformas gramaticales propuestas, enhebrándolo mediante una fértil metáfora que asimila el idioma a un ser vivo, provisto de genética, genes y cromosomas. También abundan las opiniones personales y, en ocasiones, los razonamientos propuestos por el autor son cuestionables y se acercan peligrosamente a la demagogia. No obstante, es de admirar la valentía con la que se abordan temas espinosos (como por ejemplo la diversidad de españoles que conviven actualmente en el mundo). Aunque las opiniones expresadas sean con frecuencia discutibles, resulta refrescante que no se caiga en la ultracorrección política que tan frecuente es últimamente y, si bien las respuestas ofrecidas por el autor no siempre son convincentes, las preguntas que se plantean son sumamente interesantes y pueden servir de punto de partida para reflexiones propias. En cualquier caso, ya sea como iniciación a la lingüística para lectores legos o como lectura de verano para redescubrir el amor por las palabras, es un libro absolutamente recomendabl

Starting a PhD project on Cognitive Translatology

abril 14th, 2011 Posted by blog, doctoral advisor, exposé, PhD project, The sorcerer's apprentice No Comment yet

As in any project, there is one urgent question to be answered on starting a PhD project as well: Where do I start? This is what I found when planning to do a doctorate, particularly regarding Cognitive Translatology.

Looking for a doctoral advisor

When you set to start a PhD project on

Cognitive Translatology, you should be aware of the fact that, however young the discipline of Translation Studies (as a supercategory of Cognitive Translatology) may seem, there are already quite a few people investigating in this field all over the world. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, because once you have found your advisor and a project to work on, you become a member of this translation researchers’ community. So when it comes to looking for an advisor in this field, you will probably have to expand your search crossing national borders.

So your starting point is, you should start doing some research on who is actually investigating in Cognitive Translatology (e.g., individual researchers or research groups). When you have listed a few names, you can start by contacting them, explaining what you are aiming to do, and asking them for help.

During or after the doctoral advisor search
Once you have started looking for a doctoral advisor (or even if you already found one), you should start limiting and defining the topic you would like to delve into in your PhD project. I know, Cognitive Translatology is still a quite complex field. This is the time for you to do three things mainly:

1. Answer yourself some basic questions regarding your own focus of interest (e.g., if you prefer theory or practice; which specific field(s) you are interested in (e.g., translators’ expertise, problem solving, decision-making, translation quality assessment, error categorization, to name a few)).
2. Read, and nothing but read to familiarize yourself with the topic(s) in question and the state of the art. You get relevant literature searching, for example, your University’s library catalogue and the Internet (additionally, you could also ask your advisor in case you have already found one, but never forget that it is your work and the literature you will be given has to be considered just the basis for further reading). While reading, keep an eye out for possible connections with your own future work, such as any lack of or in theoretical models, desiderata, etc.

3. Outline your first thoughts (on the basis of 1 and 2) concerning at least your work topic, aim(s), hypotheses, method(s) and problems. In Cognitive Translatology you will probably find a lot more empirical work than in other areas of Translation Studies, but this does neither mean there is nothing left to investigate empirically nor that there is nothing interesting to say about translation theory. In any case, you will need both, practice and theory, for your work. At this stage, it would be of some help but it not essential to count on an advisor, to get some advice where necessary.
Writing an exposé
Usually, in most countries the next step to take is writing an exposé, which contains your ideas on the PhD project. The exposé helps you structure and formulate these ideas more clearly. In the beginning, it works as some kind of project guidelines both for you and for your advisor, but it will be modified throughout the process times and again. And that is normal.
After these three steps, there begins the real journey. Good luck!
Further reading
Chesterman, A. (2001). Empirical research methods in Translation Studies. Erikoiskielet ja käännösteoria (VAKKI-symposiumi XX), 27, 9-22.
Davis, D. (2001): PhD Thesis Research: Where Do I Start? URL: http://www.columbia.edu/~drd28/Thesis%20Research.pdf
Eco, U. (2001). Experiences in Translation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Nünning, A. & Sommer, R. (Eds.) (2007). Handbuch Promotion – Forschung – Förderung – Finanzen. Stuttgart: Metzler.
Nussbaum, M. A. (2010). How To Write a (Thesis/Dissertation) Proposal. URL: http://filebox.vt.edu/users/nussbaum/subpages/ProposalHowTo.pdf PhD Starter – How to start a PhD. URL: http://phdstarter.com/
Pries, L. (2007). Wie schreibe ich ein Exposé? URL: http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/sozomm/dateien/studium_hinweise_expose.pdfResearch Proposal Guide. URL: http://researchproposalguide.com/

Situatedness without mind?

abril 4th, 2011 Posted by blog, concepts, dynamic systems, mind, on second thoughts, situatedness No Comment yet

The most radically dynamic approaches to cognition depict it as a series of embodied, situated processes closely intertwined with action and environment. Some advocates of these approaches claim, for example, that robots designed without representationalist programming techniques —which do not manipulate internal representations like symbols— can behave intelligently (Brooks 1991). Others explain early human cognitive development in terms of dynamic systems

theory (Thelen & Smith 1996). These scopes do not seem very interested in things such as minds, thoughts or mental representations. That is why they have been criticized as a return to behaviorism. After all, we have internal representations, don’t we? I can imagine the sea, and I can see the waves dancing before my mental eye. So, what is the point of denying it?

Perhaps it is our own way of speaking what confounds us. Most of our words about cognitive processes are count nouns. We understand minds, meanings and thoughts as things or, at least, as states, but not as processes or actions. There are reasons for it. An analysis of the metaphors we use to speak about some kinds of things, such as minds and their contents, hints that we intuitively find it easier to think about cognition artifacts as everyday objects in a tridimensional space rather than in terms of complex, dynamical and intertwined processes. At least, for everyday purposes. But what about our scientific concepts?

This state of affairs does not seem very different in academic speech: Perhaps it is easy for us to see that minds are not containers with thoughts and memories inside them, or that words are not packages of meaning. But seeing beyond metaphors becomes more difficult when we talk about frames, mental images, idealized cognitive models or even just concepts. We tend to reify these notions, to think about them as ready-made schemes that can be retrieved from memory and applied to each situation. Once again, thinking of states or objects is simply much easier than attempting to envision dynamic processes or actions.

In translatology, functionalist theories have made us grow used to think in terms of actions. In cognitive translatology, in contrast with traditional linguistics, we conceive of language from the very beginning as part of a situated communicative activity. However, we are not immune to the tendency to reify concepts. Perhaps the most notorious example of this tendency is the very concept of meaning. It is very difficult not to think about meaning as something somehow there, ambushed in the text, waiting to be deciphered. And yet, we know that meaning is not to be found within texts. It is not archived in our minds either. Meaning is always created anew in dynamic processes of interaction between text, embodied mind and situation.

However, this does not mean that we cannot agree to some extent about the meaning of a text, nor that translators do not create mental representations at all. As a matter of fact, when we study what goes on in the translator's hands, in her computer and her interactions (Risku 2010), we are also trying to find out what is going on in her mind, even though we do not think about that mind as an isolated (black) box, but as a series of processes that are, so to speak, open to the world.

A possible way to escape the dichotomy of behaviorism vs mentalism might be to try and think about mental processes—such as remembering, imagining, thinking or dreaming—not only as part of situated action, but as actions themselves. Instead of asking What is going on in the translator’s mind? we could ask What is the translator mentally doing? The problem with this strategy is that not all mental processes can be depicted as intentional, goal-directed actions, that most of them are unconscious and/or uncontrolled. After all, we are not inclined to speak about digestive processes as actions either. And yet, mental processes can only be explained in relation with action and social interaction. Our most elaborated constructions, like language or the self, can only emerge within a highly sophisticated sociocultural world which affords us the necessary stability to act in it.

Thinking in terms of dynamic processes does not mean that we have to give up the very notion of mental representation; it just means that we must rethink it. We can’t step into the same river twice, but we conceive of it as the same river we forded yesterday. In fact, we cannot construct the same concept twice (Barsalou 1993). Nevertheless, we construct ourselves as being the same as yesterday, and this construction allows us to interact in a meaningful way with our environment.

References
Barsalou, Lawrence D. 1993. Challenging assumptions about concepts. Cognitive Development 8/2: 169-180.
Brooks, Rodney A. 1991. Intelligence Without Representation. Artificial Intelligence 47: 139-159.
Risku, Hanna. 2010. A cognitive scientific view on technical communication and translate. Do embodiment and situatedness really make a difference? Target 22/1, 94-111.
Thelen, Esther & Linda B. Smith. 1994. A dynamic systems approach to the development of cognition and action. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Welcome to PETRA’s back office

abril 1st, 2011 Posted by blog, Sin categorizar No Comment yet

PETRA’s Back Office Blog is devoted to the many facets of the empirical research of translation and interpreting processes, products, and environment mainly, but not only, from second-generation cognitive science perspectives. That is what we call cognitive translatology. We know that you may object to this label, but we agree that you may call it as you please, as long as you focus on using the scientific method to build knowledge on (the mental aspects of) translation and interpreting. In fact, we do

not exclude other scientifically-minded frameworks, as long as they can interact with cognitive approaches, even to criticize or disprove them.

So we aim to offer a forum for the exchange of recent ideas that connect with, and advance discussion in fields such as cognitive science, experimental psychology, bilingualism, language development and acquisition, linguistics, communication studies, anthropology, computational linguistics, expertise, you name it, in their relationship withtranslation and interpreting. We just want to be the glue. We want to encourage active discussion. We hope it will help us and it will help readers.

Now, science has its publishing rituals and venues, but we don’t think that blogs belong to this sanctioned apparatus. Articles, books, chapters and lectures are the uppersides of the leaves of the growing bush of translatology. PETRA’s Back Office Blog is devoted to the undersides, to all that intellectual work and chance that precedes, sorrounds and follows printed wisdom, from which it is often dropped. Interspersed below you will find some hyperlinks to illustrate what we mean.

PETRA’s Back Office Blog wants to focus on research around the day in eighty worlds (no mistake!): We want to know what you think when on the bus, because we know you think translation and interpreting there too. We will even appreciate your telling us your dreams of whirling or intertwined snakes. If you were eating an ice cream and something strange happened, let us know. We will eagerly read your sudden insight on irregular volumes and shout with you Eureka! We want to learn about your observation of the acceleration of a falling apple, because scientific observation is nothing but deliberate, controlled and corrected everyday observation.

These examples refer to epiphanies and intuitions, but sure there are other aspects we would also like to cover. In our daily lives we come across research problems for which we cannot easily or quickly find HowTos or good solutions by simple searching in Google, asking a colleague in the next office, or browsing in the library. So we will welcome positions on social and ethical concerns, conceptual clarifications and definitions, methodological recommendations, tool news and reviews, clever tricks, warnings related to the interpretation of results, reporting standards, reflections, and related contributions. We do not want to limit blog posts to documenting research challenges, but also its joys. News on academic life, bestowed prizes, awarded grants and fellowships are welcome, and so is some humor, for we have found nowhere that scientific research must be stiff and boring.

Did we forget something? Just tell us about it. Are you working in this foggy area and would like to contribute to PETRA’s Back Office Blog? It probably is a good idea. Blogging is invaluable for visibility purposes (How many people did or will actually read your PhD dissertation in full?). It does keep you more alert to what's happening  in the field. As you know, you often understand a concept deeply or in full when you have to teach it or write it down clearly. We aim to collect a “library” of evergreen posts addressing a vast range of content—posts that will be as useable 5 years from now as they are today. Blogging is also a terrific, reassuring communication vehicle: Having strangers comment (without any prompting on your part) on your work will remind you that you really do know what you’re doing and will also help you to do it even better.

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