Common Analytical Research Problems

Language translators may be asked to become involved in a number of phases of analytical research project.  While most frequently, translation works will only be asked to complete the translation of questionnaires, they could also take on more substantial roles.  In this blog post, we review the types of research problems that you could be trying to solve.

The objective of an analytical report is to reveal the method that you used to reach your conclusions. The method you use is determined by your topic area, your intentions, and your audience’s requirements. Listed below are some common analytical problems:

“Can Method A Be Applied to Solve Problem B?”
Research can be used to solve real world problems. Imagine that you are Seattle translation services and that your client is worried about the results of emotional stress on employees in their distribution facility in Portugal. Your client may ask you to investigate the claim that transcendental meditation has therapeutic benefits-with an eye toward a TM program for employees. You would design your analysis to answer this question: “Does TM have therapeutic benefits?”  The analysis would follow a questions-answers-conclusions structure. Because the report might lead to action, you would probably include recommendations based on your conclusions.

“Is X or Y Better for a Specific Purpose?
Analysis is essential in comparisons of machines, processes, business locations, computer systems, or the like. Assume, for example, you manage a ski lodge and you need to answer this question: Which of the two most popular types of ski binding is best for our rental skis? In a comparative analysis of the Salamon 555 and the Americana bindings, you might assess the strengths and weaknesses of each in a point-by-point comparison: toe release, heel release, ease of adjustment, friction, weight, and cost.

Or you might use an item-by item comparison, discussing all the features of the first binding, and then all the features of the next. The comparative analysis follows a questions-answers-conclusions structure and is designed to help the reader make a choice.

“Why Does X Happen?”
The problem-solving analysis is designed to answer questions like this: Why do New York City translation services businesses have a high failure rate? (See the sample report later in this chapter.) This kind of analysis follows a variation of the questions-answers-conclusions structure: namely, problem-causes-solution.

Such an analysis has the following steps:
l. identifying the problem
2. examining possible and probable causes and isolating definite ones
3. proposing solutions

An analysis of why some executives refuse to have computers at their desks would follow the same structure. Another kind of problem-solving analysis is done to predict an effect:
“What are the consequences of putting production workers on a four-day work week?” Here, the structure is proposed action-probable effects-conclusions and recommendations.

“Is X Practical in a Given Situation?”
The feasibility analysis assesses the practicality of an idea or plan: Will the consumers of Hicksville support a microcomputer store? In a variation of the question-answers-conclusions structure, a feasibility analysis uses reasons for-reasons against, with both sides supported by evidence. Businesses often use this kind of analysis.

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