Translating a dissertation

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May it be a dissertation or another scientific work, these academic writings usually only have a small audience, even if they are made accessible to the public. The more specific the work’s topic, the smaller the reading audience! The international context in which science finds itself today makes it more important than ever to have a dissertation translated - especially into the science field’s dominating language, English. This not only increases the size of the audience, but also the impact the work makes. Ultimately, the results can be incorporated into other works and discussed more often. However, translating a dissertation is no walk in the park, but the absolute opposite. There are a few obstacles to work past in order for the work to make sense in another language and for the results to not become distorted. The basic requirements for adequately translating a scientific work include having sufficient expertise in the subject as well as masterful language proficiency.

An overview of the dissertation

A dissertation is the scientific work one must complete before receiving a doctoral degree. It is probably the most extensive and crucial component of the Ph.D. In many countries, the dissertation must be published. This is a means of proving the doctoral candidates ability to complete independent research and provide the scientific community with new insights. A good dissertation illustrates flawless methodology and precise knowledge of the literature regarding the area of research. It must also have the current operating principles of the corresponding subject area, the inclusion of one’s own work in the context, as well as logically derived conclusions. The writings differ greatly from each other depending on the location and subject area. Works for the humanities tend to be much longer than those in the natural sciences.

International differences

Dissertations differ greatly throughout the international community in aspects ranging from the name to the prestige of the title to be acquired. For example, a German “Dr.” is not the same as an American “Ph.D.” There are also qualitative, significant differences from country to country and even between different universities. Among these are mainly the varying levels of supervision, the allotted time, additional work in the faculty, and provided financial resources. Even how the results are published varies internationally. While the monograph still prevails as the form of publication in the German speaking countries, many countries consider what is called a cumulative dissertation to be enough. This entails publishing the doctoral candidate’s research findings in multiple, contextually relevant, publications in scientific journals.

Challenges of the translation

The translation of dissertations requires absolute professionalism and special care, so as to not distort the findings of the work. To accomplish this, it is necessary for the translator to have a high understanding of the full context of the work, pay close attention to the many, individual details, and make correct use of the technical terminology. The previously mentioned technical terminology as well as subject-specific expressions are the greatest challenges of translating a dissertation. The translator must understand them entirely and actively use them. As a professional translation agency, we specialize in mastering this challenge. We only work with native speaking translators who have been academically trained in various subject areas. The combination of high technical and linguistic expertise and experience with producing high quality text translations is the only way to ensure that the translation of a dissertation is factually correct. See for yourself what we can do and let one of our project managers assist you. We look forward to your call and to your email!


Erwin Vroom
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