I'm drafting a job offering for a paid PhD position at a German university. It's a temporary position, so it's offered under the terms of the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz, a German law that limits the number of years that people can be employed with temporary contracts by German universities and similar institutions.

As I wish to invite applications also from people whose first language is not German, I need an appropriate translation of Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz. Is there an official English translation of the title? If not, is "Law on Temporary Employment of Scholars and Researchers" an appropriate translation?

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    As I wish to invite applications also from people whose first language is not English Do you mean German? – Azor Ahai Apr 27 '18 at 17:51

I wouldn’t translate the law’s name as I do not see how it helps potential applicants. Just put yourself in their position and think about what benefit it grants you:

  • Any reasonable resource elaborating the content of the law in detail will mention the German name, even if written in English.

  • The translation itself will only give the applicant a very rough idea what it is about. The more important aspect what relevant consequences the law has.

  • To be actually affected by the law, the applicant has to have a history of employment in German academia and thus not be scared by long German words anymore.

If I would have to write about this in a job ad, I would write something like:

Applicants who were previously employed in a similar position in Germany may not be eligible due to the restrictions imposed by German law (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz).

Note that I have rarely ever seen this law mentioned on job ads to which it applies and never on a PhD position – which makes sense because the law would only matter if the candidate already has been employed on a PhD position in Germany for more than three years.

Finally, if you can, I would let your HR department worry about this. They should have some legal boilerplate available.

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  • Or recycle the text from the last offer from the chair in question. . . . – aeismail Apr 27 '18 at 15:17
  • When I did my research for the job offering (it's the first time that I'm in a position to offer a job to others), I also noticed that the WissZeitVG is indeed rarely mentioned ever. I think I'll go for a wording similar to what you suggest, and I'll also leave the rest for those whose job it is to know about the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz. – Schmuddi Apr 27 '18 at 15:17
  • I would ad that if it's online, using the word as anchor text to a link to a description would be nice. – Acccumulation Apr 27 '18 at 20:12

I would keep the name of the law in German. If potential candidates are unfamiliar with that law and want to find out more then they will have a hard time finding the law if you only give them your English translation. Those who are familiar with the law may become uncertain if you mean that law. Ther German name is unambiguous (but ugly). Alternatively, you could use the German term and your translation in parentheses.

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  • Thanks for your comment. I agree with all your points, but as they are in a way a subset of Wrzlprmft's, I think I'll accept his answer. – Schmuddi Apr 27 '18 at 15:13

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