English title: Assessing the impact of different German-language translations of ESS Round 3 items on the resulting data

Author(s): Dorothée Behr -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2017


Questionnaire translation is known to be a weak link in cross-national survey research. To enhance comparability in a comparative survey, multi-step translation and assessment methods such as the TRAPD model (Harkness, 2003) are often employed. However, comparability should not only exist between the source questionnaire (which is often English in major international studies) and a particular translation, but ideally also between the different translated versions of a source questionnaire. The latter requirement becomes particularly visible if one looks at the translations into so-called shared languages, such as the translations of a survey questionnaire into German for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. While in the past, countries have often worked individually even though they “shared” the same language, nowadays increased levels of cooperation can be noted (e.g., European Social Survey, 2014).  This presentation looks at experiments using different German-language translations of the ESS Round 3 questionnaire (rotating module on personal and social well-being). Items were selected for which the Austrian, German, and Swiss translation differed markedly – at least at face value. Items were then implemented in randomized web experiments in the GESIS Online Panel Pilot (probability-based panel of Internet users in Germany). Analyses include statistical analyses but also the analysis of open-ended probing questions. Results are presented alongside with pointers with what to look out for in translation.

Conference name: CSDI

Location: Mannheim

Start date: Mar 16, 2017

Type: Paper