No comparative surveys without comparable data

Twenty-four years ago, cApStAn started developing, testing, fine-tuning and implementing methods to ensure comparability between different language versions of tests and questionnaires. That was our core activity and it still is. Tests and questionnaires are measurement instruments. They measure knowledge, skills, attitudes, trends, or opinions. They link data points to variables, allow to make inferences and to inform policies. This is a key driver of our motivation as linguists: our work has a direct link to society. cApStAn linguists and project managers are aware that translated assessment items and survey questions must be understood the way they are intended to be, so that the results will be meaningful, valid and reliable. They must be as comparable across languages and cultures as possible. That’s a tall order, and that is our commitment.

In a world in which the geopolitical order is brittle and in which humans resume their ways regardless of the warning signs of climate change, we need to continue our work and to see it as meaningful. As linguists, it is not always obvious that our contribution matters. In our niche, however, we can see how impactful it is. This awareness explains a large part of the commendable dedication of the cApStAn team to the projects they work on – and this extends to the freelance experts and linguists who partner with us. This is how the “excellence among friends” attitude persists.

Being focused and showing mutual respect translates into performance

The year 2023 has been rough for the world. We are concerned, but our job needs to be done. So, we remain focused. It is part of our job to put ourselves into the shoes of others: of our clients, of our linguists, of the target audience of the questionnaires, of the test-takers who will be assessed in their language, of the content authors. Being focused and being mindful of sensitivities is not incompatible, and it pays off: cApStAn gained more new clients in 2023 than ever before, while maintaining the same level of client proximity and consistent quality in ongoing projects with existing partners and clients. As a result, we are flying with the eagles, soaring above pre-pandemic levels and breezing past our objective for this year.

True to our philosophy, we are investing the lion’s share of the proceeds in strengthening our teams: new (but experienced) project managers, a seasoned translation technologist and a new business developer have joined us. As of January 15, a Chief Technology Officer will join the management: she will coordinate the technical team and drive our R&D effort. Watch this space: a formal announcement will follow soon. We have started pivoting – in 2023, we have adopted new tools and workflows, we have done more content profiling, we have fostered interoperability between different tools and platforms. In 2024, cApStAn is taking the R&D effort to a whole new level. We are more actively involved in think tanks, committees, industry associations and research conferences than ever before

In the last month of the year, most of us gathered in the Brussels office – twenty-one cApStAnites were there in person – and that was a highlight for many of us: we could review successes as well as issues and concerns in the large-scale projects we work on, we could organise and streamline the work and communication channels for the coming year, and nurture that sense of belonging that sets us apart. Coordination between the different functions will be crucial: for 2024, our objectives are even more ambitious than the ones we collectively attained in 2023.

Jan Denys, CEO, and Steve Dept, Founding Partner