The History of Research into Conference Interpreting: A Scientometric Approach

Daniel Gile


Quantitative analysis of the literature of conference interpreting research (CIR) highlights interesting features of its historical evolution. Paradigm shifts in the seventies and late eighties have intensified its overall production and are associated with the disappearance of some major production centers and the emergence of others. The total population of authors has increased over the years, but only a few dozen have shown long-term productive research activity, and much CIR is conducted independently of any academic institution. Institutional and economic factors seem to account for limitations in the development of CIR so far. Empirical studies represent only a small proportion of the total CIR production, but their proportion in M.A. and graduation theses is far higher. Limitations of quantitative analysis without a qualitative component are highlighted, and suggestions are made for further explorations along the way.

Table of contents

Many qualitative analyses have been written about conference interpreting research (CIR), both in the review part of theses and dissertations, and in separate texts (e.g. Gile 1995, Target 7:1 [1995], Hermes 14 [1995], Gambier et al. 1997), but very few quantitative analyses have actually tried to measure the phenomena and/or check general impressions and trends. Two exceptions are Pöchhacker 1995a and 1995b. In Pöchhacker 1995a, the author measured the productivity of individual authors, both by the number of texts published and by “bibliography points” giving different weights to different types of publications. In Pöchhacker 1995b, he also analyzed the production by languages, types of interpreting, topics, categories of texts and journals, with a diachronic part showing changes between production until 1988 and in the 1988–to–1994 period.

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