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Questions and answers

Why should I consider language awareness in my research

There is increasing evidence to suggest that culture and language-responsive research enhances rigour, inclusivity and fairness. Thus, engaging with research participants through a language that is meaningful to them is key to good clinical research practice. In the context of a devolved bilingual Wales, the Welsh language is at the core of its national identity, legislative frameworks and health and social care strategic intent. Thus, researchers across Wales are tasked to provide an ‘active offer’ of Welsh language services so that Welsh speakers can be empowered to participate in research and have a voice in informing policy and practice. Upholding the language rights, safety and well-being of research participants not only embodies the principles of sound ethical practice but also enhances the rigour of cross-cultural research by improving the recruitment and retention of hard-to-reach groups and producing results that have improved validity for diverse language settings.

How do I enhance language awareness in my research?

There is potential to enhance language awareness at each stage of the research process, e.g. through ensuring appropriate sampling approaches; accurate measurement procedures; effective data collection measures; quality translations; and adequate analytical approaches. The flow chart in Figure 1 provides a summary of these approaches whilst further details are available in LLAIS Briefing Paper 2, ‘Language Awareness in Health and Social Care Research Governance.’ Click here to view the Flow Chart.

Why should I provide an active offer of Welsh language materials for research participants whilst they rarely ask for information in Welsh?

Researchers across Wales are tasked to provide an ‘active offer’ of Welsh language services so that Welsh speakers can be empowered to participate in research and have a voice in informing policy and practice.

Historically, it is true that research participants have not usually asked for written materials in Welsh. This may be because:

  • Asking for a bilingual service requires confidence and self-assurance
  • People may be worried about the message and image they convey by asking for materials in Welsh
  • Welsh speakers may prefer to use Welsh in conversationand English for reading official documents
  • Expectations for a Welsh language service may be low.

As the use of Welsh increases in the public sector and as young people associate Welsh with more formal, official situations, these patterns are changing and there are increasing demands for bilingual services.

How do I get my work translated?

Currently, you will need to seek the services of the translator at your organization or commission an independent translator. However, DSCHR Welsh Government are currently considering the establishment of a Health and Care Research Wales Translation Service for NHS research in Wales. Until this is embedded you will need to source an independent service. LLAIS recommends the use of translators who are full members of The Association of Welsh Translators and Interpreters, the national professional association for Wales. This should guarantee the level of quality assurance required.

Users often complain that official forms and documents are full of jargon or obscure terms. This led to the Plain English Campaign and Cymraeg Clir in Welsh. These recommend using short sentences; avoiding the use of the impersonal and subjunctive modes; and a number of similar guidelines concerning style and syntax. For further details of Cymraeg Clir contact: Link to https://www.bangor.ac.uk/canolfanbedwyr/gwasanaethau_cc.php.en

A new translation e-resource for Welsh translators is also available on-line:
https://llyfrgell.porth.ac.uk/media/ysgrifau-a-chanllawiau-cyfieithu-delyth-prys-a-robat-trefor-goln.

Your translator may also be interested in the LLAIS Welsh translation of the Jargon Buster http://www.invo.org.uk/resource-centre/jargon-buster/see Deall y Jargon

In my research project what documents need to be in bilingual (Welsh/English) format?

In 2013, the former NISCHR Academic Health Science Collaboration (AHSC) proposed that participant facing documents should be freely available in Welsh as well as English and not only on request. Also recommended was the establishment of a Wales wide translation service. The translation service would enable consistent translation of participant facing documents and facilitate a streamlined approach to compliance with the Welsh Language Measure (2011). This translation service is not yet functional but it is proposed that the permission service would offer translations to:

  • Sponsor of all non-commercial studies being hosted in NHS Wales, including single site studies and studies considered to be “pathway to portfolio” and
  • Sponsors of all commercial studies on a cost recovery basis.

All documents that are offered to participants by researchers should be available in bilingual format, e.g. advertisement materials, letter of invitation to participant, participant information sheets, and participant consent forms.
Some health measures have been translated adopting a rigorous standardised approach. See http://www.micym.org/llais/static/index.html for details of access.

There is no one in our research team who speaks Welsh. How can I collect my data in Welsh?

Given the diversity of Welsh speakers across Wales and the need to respect their language needs and preferences in research studies, it is vital that researchers take account of the challenges of working across language barriers when collecting quantitative and qualitative research data.

Quantitative Methods

Responding sensitively and appropriately to the language needs and preferences of study respondents is crucial, not only for the administration of appropriate health measures, but also for other modes of data collection adopted by quantitative researchers. In Wales, although over 20 health measures have been linguistically validated for the Welsh language, the majority are only available in English and these may be inappropriate for respondents whose preferred language is Welsh. LLAIS is committed to support the use of Welsh-medium health and social care research instruments in Wales and methods of translation and validation at a national and international level. Details of some linguistically validated Welsh versions of health questionnaires are available on micym.org.

LLAIS is collaborating with researchers across Wales to prioritise future requirements. If you have a measure requiring translation please contact LLAIS llais@bangor.ac.uk.

Qualitative Methods

Best practice approaches to enhancing Welsh language awareness in qualitative data collection include the following processes:

  • Establish validated Welsh translations of interview schedules and focus group topic guides
  • Ensure accuracy and appropriateness of translations through evaluating equivalence across language versions of documents and adopting appropriate language register and style
  • Conduct interviews and focus groups in the language required by the participants or according to their preference, where possible
  • Offer Welsh language awareness training and Welsh language skills training to research staff

Ensuring the accuracy and appropriateness of translated documents relies heavily on the expertise and speciality of the translator. The Association of Welsh Translators and Interpreters http://www.cyfieithwyrcymru.org.uk/chwilio_aelodaeth-17.aspx offers a list of professional translators based on county, specialist field and level of membership. The association encourages those who employ or commission translators to discuss issues such as terms and conditions; syntax and register; and bilingual design.

In order to ensure that a research team is able to conduct interviews and focus groups effectively in Welsh, the team needs to check that it has a sufficient complement of Welsh speaking researchers. Where this is not the case, investigators are encouraged to consider providing Welsh language skills training for staff or alternative means of recruiting bilingual researchers for designated studies. Contact LLAIS for language awareness training and resources for researchers (llais@bangor.ac.uk); and http://cymraeg.gov.wales/learning/Adults/Welsh-for-Adults/?lang=en for Welsh for adults. In the long term the Welsh Language Commissioner recommends that organisations adopt a bilingual skills strategy as part of its human resource planning that brings together the organisation’s staffing, training and recruitment procedures. This strategy should enable the organisation to maintain an overview of its linguistic skill needs and resources, and co-ordinate training and recruitment activities accordingly.

See here for further information.

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