dr. M.J. van den Haak


  • De Boelelaan 1105, Main building

    1081 HV Amsterdam


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Personal profile

Personal information

Assistant Professor with expertise in UX/usability, (website) localization, translation (English to Dutch and vice versa), discourse analysis and (English) text writing.


As a researcher, I am particularly interested in the evaluation of (digital) communication. As part of my PhD research, I conducted a number of large-scale user studies to investigate the merits and drawbacks of employing various think-aloud variants for usability testing.  For the past few years I have been working, in collaboration with Dr Olga Damman (VUMC), on an NWO project entitled You are at risk: how health risk information can be made more meaningful for consumers. Our study involved a number of qualitative user studies (think aloud, eye-tracking) and quantitative experiments to discover how lay people understand and interpret health risk information in online health risk tests.  See also:http://www.nwo.nl/onderzoek-en-resultaten/programmas/begrijpelijke+taal 


As a lecturer (BKO-qualified), I strongly believe in combining theory and practice in my courses. I frequently collaborate with language professionals, translation agencies and usability companies to ensure that my teaching remains theoretically grounded and practically relevant.  

 Courses I teach/taught in the past:

  • BA Translation Dutch-English
  • BA Website localization
  • BA Intercultural communication
  • BA academic English writing
  • BA discourse analysis 
  • MA Translation English-Dutch 
  • MA Translation tutorial
  • MA Usability testing of corporate websites


  • BA and MA theses on translation, discourse analysis and usability (user research). Topics include: translating cultural elements (realia, humor) in various genres (literature, subtitling); analyzing the effects of subtitle errors on viewers' attitude; investigating the effect of different variables (user demographics, test procedure) on the effectiveness of the think-aloud method.   
  • BA and MA internships in the fields of translation, writing and usability testing. 


  • NWO Aspasia (2016): Funding for a professional UX training with the Norman Nielsen Group
  • NWO Begrijpelijke Taal (Comprehensible language and effective communication) (2013-2017): Funding for the project You are at Risk - a collaboration with Dr Olga Damman (VUMC).


  • Degree (Drs) in English linguistics (2000: VU, Amsterdam).
  • Degree (PhD) in Applied Communication Science (2008: UT Twente).

Ancillary activities

No ancillary activities

Ancillary activities are updated daily


  • PE English
  • Translation Dutch to English
  • Translation English to Dutch
  • Localization
  • Discourse
  • Interaction
  • User research
  • Usability
  • Think aloud method
  • UX
  • Subtitling

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Library Catalogs Medicine & Life Sciences
Task Performance and Analysis Medicine & Life Sciences
Websites Engineering & Materials Science
Video recording Engineering & Materials Science
health information Social Sciences
behavior pattern Social Sciences
women's studies Social Sciences
Testing Engineering & Materials Science

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2003 2018

  • 13 Article
  • 4 Conference contribution
  • 1 PhD Thesis - Research VU, graduation VU
  • 1 PhD Thesis - Research external, graduation external

How lay people understand and make sense of personalized disease risk information

Damman, O. C., Bogaerts, N. M. M., van den Haak, M. J. & Timmermans, D. R. M., Oct 2017, In : Health Expectations. p. 973-983 10 p., 20 (5).

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Health Services Needs and Demand
Eye Movements

Evaluating municipal websites: A methodological comparison of three think-aloud variants

van den Haak, M. J., de Jong, M. D. T. & Schellens, P. J., 2009, In : Government Information Quarterly. 26, 1, p. 193-202 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

A penny for your thoughts: Investigating the validity and reliability of think-aloud protocols for usability testing.

van den Haak, M., 19 Jun 2008

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD Thesis - Research external, graduation externalAcademic

Activities 2009 2018

  • 6 Lecture / Presentation
  • 1 Peer review
  • 1 PhD thesis examination

De dokter vertelt mij wel wat er loos is. Een kwalitatief onderzoek naar patronen in het informatiegedrag van zorggebruikers

W.P.M.S. Spooren (Examiner), José Sanders (Examiner), M.J. van den Haak (Examiner), F.J. Meijman (Examiner)
20 Dec 2016

Activity: PhD thesis ExaminationPhD thesis examination

Het begrijpelijk communiceren van een gezondheidsrisico

O.C. Damman (Speaker), M.J. van den Haak (Speaker), Nina M M Bogaerts (Speaker), Danielle R M Timmermans (Speaker)

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

Journal of Writing Research (Journal)

M.J. van den Haak (Reviewer)
2013 → …

Activity: Peer review and Editorial workPeer reviewAcademic