If you don't know any languages other than English (e.g. German, Italian, French, etc), is it okay to cite the abstract (which is in English) of a foreign article without reading the full text (which is in the native language)? I appreciate if you provide a reference too (e.g. APA Manual, etc).

  • 1
    Try using google translate to read the abstract. Then you'll at least know roughly what its contents are. Dec 24, 2013 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


Ultimately, you and your co-authors are responsible for the contents of your manuscript. You can cite abstracts of works you haven't read in full, in any language, including your native tongue. However, misuse of such abstracts can always be called out by the reviewers of your paper. You will be responsible for defending your choices in the review process, if need be.

Ultimately, however, citing a foreign-language abstract ultimately is no different than citing one in English. The exact details depend on the citation format for the journal you intend to submit to, so check their guidelines. In general, you do not translate titles of articles or journals into their English language equivalent (unless the journals have done so themselves!).

  • 1
    In general, you do not translate titles of articles or journals into their English language equivalent — I think it's acceptable to follow the non-English title with an English translation in brackets. Two real examples: "Solutio problematis ad geometriam situs pertinentis [Solution of a problem pertinent to the geometry of situation]" or "O jistém problému minimálním [On a certain minimal problem]"
    – JeffE
    Dec 24, 2013 at 16:48
  • 1
    @JeffE: I probably should have said "do not need to translate." If one is comfortable doing so, and the bibliography style permits this, then that's certainly an option. But I can only recall a handful of times where I've seen that done.
    – aeismail
    Dec 24, 2013 at 18:53
  • Some citation formats forbid article names in non-Latin alphabets, which I've always disliked. I can definitely appreciate a requirement to give a translated/transliterated title, but it seems weird to forbid the most correct/accurate form of the information.
    – Max
    Jan 21, 2014 at 22:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .