Action research: So much to account for

Josélia Neves

In this article Action Research (AR) is addressed to determine its limitations and affordances as a research approach in audiovisual translation studies. A specific case of Participatory Action Research (PAR) is presented in the context of a Museum Project in Portugal – the MCCB project –, serving as a focus for the discussion of the main characteristics of AR: planning, putting into action, reflecting upon and starting anew, in spiralling continuums that start with the AR project itself but that go beyond it to spin off into new research and development projects.

Table of contents

When, in 2009, Gambier addressed the “recent challenges in research on audiovisual translation” he ended his work by stating “it is time to train researchers beyond the traditional ‘textual’ paradigm” (Gambier 2009, 24) in what might be understood as a call for approaches that will account for more than products and the outcomes of translation practice. This closing statement might also be read as a demand for a better understanding of ‘the process,’ of ‘the agents’ and of ‘the systems’ involved in the numerous translation types that are now fitted under the “dynamic umbrella [of] audiovisual translation” (Orero 2004, vii). As posited by Cravo and Neves (2007), Action Research (AR) could be a valuable tool when researching into translation (in general), training translators or teachers of translation – and even more so when these are within audiovisual translation (AVT), given the complex multimodal, multimedial and multidisciplinary nature of the domain. Accounts of how AR served the purpose of getting a comprehensive understanding of an AVT type may be read in “‘There is Research and Research’: Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing” (Neves 2007a) and “Subtitling Brazilian Telenovelas for Portuguese Deaf Audiences: An Action Research Project” (Neves 2007b). In that particular context, subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) was researched in the process of being introduced on Portuguese commercial television stations, subtitlers were trained for the purpose, deaf viewers were ‘led’ to appreciate the service, and all those involved were ‘empowered’ to continue their (individual and collective) learning processes once the project was over.

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