A Case of Chinese Whispers: Some researcher-supervisor dynamics when working between Chinese and English

Xiaowei Zhou, Richard Fay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Paper 1 of colloquium Doing Research Multilingually: Diverse Approaches and Representational Choices Against the backdrop of the increasingly internationalised nature of higher education (in UK universities in particular), in this paper we reflect on the complexities we have encountered and negotiated in Xiaowei’s doctoral research (in such a UK HE context) as supervised by Richard. This study involved significant English and Mandarin Chinese elements, the management of which ran throughout the whole research process, from the literature explored, the contexts considered, the participants involved, the data generated, processed and analysed, to the (re)presentation of the study in the thesis. However, the study was supervised and examined monolingually in English. The complexities of such a bilingual process (as located in a monolingual supervisory/examination context) are not well discussed in the research methods literature. When they are referred to, in our experience, the tenor of the discussion is often that of a problem to be overcome rather than that of a richness to be reflexively managed. In this paper, we explore in detail the linguistic dynamics involved in the study. We present the bilingual complexities that we have addressed using examples, including questions, reflections, strategies adopted and methods employed/created. Through our reflections on the experience of managing the enriched linguistic resources available for Xiaowei’s study, we hope to provide some insights into the practice of ‘doing research multilingually’ and considering some of the challenges this raises for all concerned.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Impact of Applied Linguistics
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 44th Annual Meeting of the British Association of Applied Linguistics
EditorsJo Angouri, Michael Daller, Jeanine Treffers-Daller
Place of PublicationLondon - http://www.baal.org.uk/proceedings_11.pdf
PublisherScitsuignil Press
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2011
EventBAAL 2011 annual conference - University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
Duration: 1 Sept 20113 Sept 2011


ConferenceBAAL 2011 annual conference
CityUniversity of the West of England, Bristol, UK


  • developing researcher competence
  • researching multilingually
  • reflexivity
  • supervision
  • doctoral research
  • the languaging of research


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