During the last 30 years, the growth of the interpreting industry in China has been outstanding. Increasing economic and political collaboration has driven the demand for interpreters to bridge the linguistic and cultural divides that exist between China and the West. With the creation of master’s and bachelor’s degrees in interpreting and translation all over China, hundreds of graduates from various universities have since undertaken distinctly different career paths. Using an exhaustive corpus of Masters’ theses and a combination of logistic regression and Targeted Maximum Likelihood Estimation to establish causalities, this paper focuses on some of the structural determinants of graduate students’ career choices. The paper examines to what extent university affiliations, thesis advisors, research methodology and thesis content influence the choice to pursue an academic career. The research reveals that graduating from a top university makes students less likely to become academics, and studying under a top advisor does not necessarily increase an individual’s chances of securing an academic post. By contrast, writers of empirical theses or ones that are about training are more likely to enter the academic sphere.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
For the sake of authenticity, no editing was made to the English titles created by the original authors.
It came as something of a surprise to find that a large number of theses had no specific research question: many gave historical overviews of the field, or a meta-analysis of existing literature. In such cases, the title was taken to represent the most succinct description of the central theme of the thesis.
AIIC (2013). Directory of interpreting schools and programmes. http://aiic.net/. Accessed 19 Apr 2013.
Bao, J. (2009). Redefining the specific role of liaison interpreters. Unpublished master’s thesis, Shanghai International Studies University.
Becher, T. (1989). Academic tribes and territories: Intellectual enquiry and the cultures of disciplines. Milton Keynes: Society for Research into Higher Education.
Bourdieu, P. (1989). La Noblesse d’État: Grandes écoles et esprit de corps (In French). Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit.
Brown, D. G. (1967). The mobile professors. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.
Caplow, T., & McGee, R. J. (1965). The academic marketplace. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Chai, M. (2012). Master of Translation and Interpreting Education: GIIT’s attempt for its MTI reform (In Chinese). Journal of University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, 34(2), 91–95.
Chen, K. (2008). An initial investigation of interpreter’s work values and job satisfaction in Taiwan. Unpublished master’s thesis, National Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipei.
Cole, J. R., & Cole, S. (1973). Social stratification in science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cone, J. D., & Foster, S. L. (1993). Dissertations and theses from start to finish: Psychology and related fields. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Feng, X. (2012). A study on teaching of interpreting in intercultural communication (Unpublished master’s thesis). Dalian: Dalian Maritime University.
Gagnon, R. J. (1982). Empirical research: The burdens and the benefits. Interfaces, 12(4), 98–102.
Gao, Y. (2008). The schema theoretic approach to interpretation and interpretation teaching. Unpublished master’s thesis, Shanghai International Studies University.
Gile, D. (1994). Opening up in interpretation studies. In M. Snell-Hornby, F. Pöchhacker, & K. Kaindl (Eds.), Translation studies: An interdiscipline (pp. 149–158). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Gile, D. (1998). Observational studies and experimental studies in the investigation of conference interpreting. Target, 10(1), 69–93.
Gile, D. (2000). The history of research into conference interpreting: A scientometric approach. Target, 12(2), 297–321.
Gruber, S., van der Laan, M. J., & Mark, J. (2012). tmle: An R package for targeted maximum likelihood estimation. Journal of Statistical Software, 51(13), 1–35.
Hofer, K. M., Smejkal, A. E., Bilgin, F. Z., & Wuehrer, G. A. (2010). Conference proceedings as a matter of bibliometric studies: The Academy of International Business 2006–2008. Scientometrics, 84(3), 845–862. doi:10.1007/s11192-010-0216-6.
Jin, Y. (2011). A study on handling culturally loaded words in Chinese-English consecutive interpretation (In Chinese), Unpublished master’s thesis. Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Kushkowski, J. D., Parsons, K. A., & Wiese, W. H. (2003). Master’s and doctoral thesis citations: Analysis and trends of a longitudinal study. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 3(3), 459–479.
Lambert, S. (1994). Foreword. In S. Lambert & B. Moser-Mercer (Eds.), Bridging the gap: Empirical research in simultaneous interpretation (pp. 5–14). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Li, B. (2007). Construction of idealized cognitive models in simultaneous interpreting. Unpublished master’s thesis, Hunan Normal University.
Liu, H. (2008). Positioning and professionalism of interpreter training (In Chinese). In E. Wang & D. Wang (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th National Conference and International Forum on Interpreting (1st ed., pp. 144–153). Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
Liu, W. (2012). An analysis of intern practice in twenty-Sixth Shenzhen Universiade (In Chinese). Unpublished master’s thesis, University of International Business and Economics.
Long, J. S., & Fox, M. F. (1995). Scientific careers: Universalism and particularism. Annual Review of Sociology, 21(1), 45–71. doi:10.1146/annurev.so.21.080195.000401.
Long, J. S., & Mcginnis, R. (1985). The effects of the mentor on the academic career. Scientometrics, 7(3–6), 255–280. doi:10.1007/BF02017149.
Ma, H. (2009). A study on “noises” in English-Chinese consecutive interpreting and noise-abating training from the perspective of communication theory (Unpublished master’s thesis). Guangzhou: Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.
Merton, R. K. (1973). The sociology of Science: Theoretical and empirical investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ministry of Education. (2013). Notice on new MTI accreditation (In Chinese) http://www.moe.gov.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/moe_820/201311/xxgk_159668.html. Accessed 10 Aug 2015.
Moser-Mercer, B. (2005). The teaching of simultaneous interpreting: The first 60 years. Forum, 3(1), 205–225.
Moser-Mercer, B. (2011). Identifying and interpreting scientific phenomena. In B. Nicodemus & L. Swabey (Eds.), Advances in interpreting research: Inquiry in action (pp. 47–58). Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Niska, H. (2005). Training interpreters: Programmes, curricula, practices. In M. Tennent (Ed.), Training for the new millennium: Pedagogies for translation and interpreting (pp. 35–64). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Pearl, S. (1995). Lacuna, myth and shibboleth in the teaching of simultaneous interpreting. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 2, 161–190.
Pinheiro, D., Melkers, J., & Youtie, J. (2014). Learning to play the game: Student publishing as an indicator of future scholarly success. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 81, 56–66.
Pöchhacker, F., & Shlesinger, M. (2002). Introduction. In F. Pöchhacker & M. Shlesinger (Eds.), The interpreting studies reader (pp. 1–12). London: Routledge.
Rose, S., & Van Der Laan, M. J. (2011). Why TMLE? In S. Rose & M. J. Van Der Laan (Eds.), Targeted learning: Causal inference for observational and experimental data (pp. 101–118). New York: Springer.
Schnitzer, M. E., Moodie, E. E. M., & Platt, R. W. (2012). Targeted maximum likelihood estimation for marginal time-dependent treatment effects under density misspecification. Biostatistics, 14(1), 1–14.
Shen, A. (2010). The philosophical and aesthetic meanings of interpretation-a perspective of the relationship between language and sense. Unpublished master’s thesis, Guangxi University.
Shneider, A. M. (2009). Four stages of a scientific discipline: Four types of scientist. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 34(5), 217–223. doi:10.1016/j.tibs.2009.02.002.
Tang, F. (2010). Empirical research in Chinese interpreting studies (In Chinese). Foreign Language World, 137(2), 39–46.
Tang, L. (2011). Conference interpreting quality assessment: A comparative study of monologic mode and dialogic mode. Unpublished master’s thesis, Hunan University.
Tseng, J. (2005). Industrial analysis of the interpreting industry in Taiwan: Taking Chinese-English conference interpreting industry as an example (In Chinese). Unpubished master’s thesis, Fu Jen Catholic University.
Van Der Laan, M. J., & Rubin, D. (2006). Targeted maximum likelihood learning. International journal of biostatistics, 2(1).
Van der Weijden, I., Belder, R., Van Arensbergen, P., & Van den Besselaar, P. (2015). How do young tenured professors benefit from a mentor? Effects on management, motivation and performance. Higher Education, 69(2), 275–287.
Wang, R. (2006). Simultaneous interpretation and ITS professionalization in China. Proceedings of the 5th National Conference and International Forum on Interpreting (pp. 143–154). Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
Xu, Z. (2015). The past, present and future of Chinese MA theses in interpreting studies: A scientometric survey. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology., 23(2), 284–304. doi:10.1080/0907676X.2015.1011175.
Yi, S., & Choi, J. (2012). The organization of scientific knowledge: The structural characteristics of keyword networks. Scientometrics, 90(3), 1015–1026. doi:10.1007/s11192-011-0560-1.
Yoon, B., Lee, S., & Lee, G. (2010). Development and application of a keyword-based knowledge map for effective RandD planning. Scientometrics, 85(3), 803–820. doi:10.1007/s11192-010-0294-5.
Zhang, Y. (2009). An analysis of information storage and retrieval process in consecutive interpretation from the perspective of long term working memory. Unpublished master’s thesis, Shanghai International Studies University.
Zhang, W. (2011). A contrastive analysis of interpreting studies in China and other countries (In Chinese). Foreign Languages in China, 5, 94–106.
Zhang, Q. (2012). The exploration and analysis of the interpreting strategies from the perspective of meta-discourse theory (In Chinese). Unpublished master’s thesis, Xiamen University.
Zhao, N. (2009). An investigation into research methods employed in interpreting studies in China for the past decade. Unpublished master’s thesis, Guangdong Foreign Studies University.
Zhao, Z. (2012). Coping with English accent in English–Chinese interpreting. Unpublished master’s thesis, Xiamen University.
The authors wish to thank Ewan Parkinson for patiently reviewing multiple versions of this paper and for generously providing detailed suggestions on improving its quality.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Xu, Z., Archambault, É. Chinese interpreting studies: structural determinants of MA students’ career choices. Scientometrics 105, 1041–1058 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-015-1717-0
- Chinese interpreting studies
- Targeted maximum likelihood estimation
- MA theses
- Career choices
- Causal inference