Williams and Andrew Chesterman. The Map. A Beginner's Guide
to Doing Research in Translation Studies. Manchester: St
Jerome Publishing, 2002.
short book should be obligatory reading for any student
embarking on research in Translation Studies. It can also
be warmly recommended for any supervisors of such students.
It only tales three or so hours to get through, but it may
save quite a few years of wasted research.
The Map achieves precisely what it sets out to do. It presents
a clear summary of what beginner researchers need to know,
usefully addressing many different levels of research products,
from the term paper to the full-blown doctoral thesis. Its
structure is based on a process model, summarized as follows:
choosing an area
· making a preliminary plan
· searching through the literature
· reading and thinking
· defining the research question
· revising the plan
· collecting data
· analyzing the data
· processing the results
· writing a draft
· evaluating, eliciting feedback
· thinking of implications
· finalizing the text
· presenting your research project.
of this book's many strengths is its careful compatibilism
on many of the issues that might otherwise have translation
scholars at each other's throats. For example, a constant
defence of empirical testing sits side-by-side with the
admission that there is no such thing as value-free description
(60). This might have led to something like a claim that
all science is political, that subjectivity is necessary,
and so on. A more diverse map might then have listed the
researchers who defend positivist objectivity, and others
who would be closer to action research. Yet no such coherent
positions are named here. The result is rather like a game
of happy families: bland, unexciting, yet all-present-and-correct,
and ultimately comforting.
I have only a few minor gripes.
First, "mind maps" are mentioned three or four
times, but no example is given.
Second, sampling by "random selection" is condoned
three times, without any mention of segment or area sampling,
and without any consideration of how precariously ideological
the notion of randomness is in the humanities.
Third, the map includes no place for the people drawing
the map, suggesting the authority and vision of omniscient
narration. On this level, the authors have not drawn out
the epistemological consequences of their discounting of
value-free description. In fact, they have assumed a position
of supreme power.
One could argue, of course, that those more political issues
require another book, for researchers who are no longer
beginners. Fair enough. So let us look forward to the day
when we have a map for students able to tear apart the entire
discipline, to question the naïve assumptions of all
previous research, and to redefine the terrain not only
with respect to where we have come from, but with a view
to where they want to go.
Awaiting that second book, we will live well enough with
the map as it stands. If it has quietly converted a few
isolated settlements into the image of a whole land, no
matter. The result is necessarily a guide to what has been
done, to the past, to what should be, for the best of our
students, a country that is not theirs.