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Panel 7. Interpreting-Quality Studies: Moving Boundaries in Research

Quality is generally acknowledged as the cornerstone of interpreting practice, but it is also an elusive concept.

This has given rise to various research approaches that examine this phenomenon from a multidimensional perspective. Since Bühler’s (1986) pioneering work on recipients' expectations towards interpreting quality, research methods have been refined to target its various components. In spite of the difficulties associated with the multifaceted nature of quality, this area of inquiry has evolved into one of the most cohesive subfields of interpreting studies, and it has even been praised as a model of scientific construction (Gile 2000:305).

The turn of the century has witnessed a considerable increase in the number of publications on interpreting quality, and the continued activity of both individual scholars and research groups testify to the liveliness of this area of inquiry. In recent years, the scope of interpreting-quality studies has widened from conference settings to public services and to other contexts, covering a greater number of languages, both oral and signed.

Some of the most promising avenues of research on interpreting quality are a direct consequence of the current trend towards interdisciplinarity. To account for the complex and dynamic nature of quality, scholars are tapping research methods and results from other disciplines such as linguistics, psychology and acoustics.

The aim of this panel is to provide an update on some of the latest developments both in oral and signed language interpreting-quality studies in different settings (e.g., community, court, conference), with a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches. The topics to be addressed include the context-specific weighting of different components of quality, the influence of social perception on the evaluation of interpreting performance, and the relation between live evaluation and deferred analysis. These approaches will hopefully contribute to paving the way for a componential and contextual definition of quality that accounts for the views of all stakeholders of the interpreting process, with immediate implications for practice and training.