Here's some backgound...

I wrote a master thesis several years ago in my native language (Not in English). And recently I am planning to further my studies and so I think an English version of the paper will help my applications for English-speaking schools.

And here goes some tricky parts...

How should I deal with some claims in the paper , which were the most reason why I did the research, like "no one has yet applied tech A into field B" which was true by then (appreantly not true now)

Should I untouch these claims or should I adjust them to the nowadays facts.

5 Answers 5


If you produce an "annotated translation" rather than a "strict" one then the problem goes away. You can asterisk the phrase "no one has yet applied tech A into field B" with a footnote that updates the claim with a more modern one, providing a citation.

You could actually go further by producing an "updated translation" that gives even more information if you have it now but didn't then. If you've done research on the topic since then it might be useful to do this.

A third option is to product a new paper that isn't a translation at all, but a new work based on the old one, citing it appropriately and with newer results. That is probably more than you want at the moment, I'd guess.

  • 5
    Good advice! Also possible to add a chapter with new results. Just a slight risk to get bogged down and spend too much time. Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 12:59
  • A zeroth option would be a note in the preface: "some of the claims in the paper were true at the time, but have since become false".
    – Teepeemm
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 18:58
  • 2
    @Teepeemm When only the claims about being the first one to do it are untrue I would make clear that not the results are proven false. And one could adapt the formulations a bit like "The author was to his knowledge in 20xx the first one to show ... since then there were a few other papers published about the topic" (optional: Cite a few to add value to the new version)
    – allo
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 21:16
  • +1. I often see footnotes that literally begin "translator's note:" to make it clear which footnotes were in the original, and which were added in translation. "How to use translator's notes"
    – David Cary
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 23:50

Before you actually start translating your master's thesis, you really should ask yourself whether the effort that you are going to expend on this is proportionate to your intended goal. If you intend to embark on such a time-consuming process, it should be based on more solid evidence than simply "I think an English version of the paper will help my applications for English-speaking schools". In particular, if this really is your main motivation, then it may be a good idea to post a separate question here asking to what extent such a translation can be expected to help your application.

Concerning your actual question, there is no reason why translating your thesis would need to involve updating it. A translation is just that: a rendering of an existing document which was written in one language in another language. You wouldn't go back and revise your thesis simply because it no longer reflects the state of the art, therefore there is no need to do so in a translation.

That said, while there is no need to do this, you can certainly choose to add some updates to your thesis. However, such material would need to be clearly marked, i.e. you would need to clearly distinguish between the original text and any later additions. One reasonable solution would be to add footnotes in some appropriate places. Such footnotes would then need to be clearly distinguished from footnotes which are part of the original thesis.

  • 3
    hey Adam thanks a lot for your advices. the reason why I am doing this is mainly because that I have not done research for serveral years and I do not have much to demo my academic potential. The thesis topic seemed somehow creative at 2018 :-) so bascially I am doing evething I can to take a shot
    – eggachecat
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 16:41

I am not sure why you think translating your thesis will help you with admissions, but I will make the assumption that you want to be able to submit documents in English that demonstrate your previous research work.

In terms of translating your master thesis, simply indicate when the original was written and when the translation was made. The fact that some assertions in your master thesis are no longer true does not make it "wrong".

Whatever you do, do not modify the content of your thesis when you translate it. If you do, than that would no longer be a translation and you risk falling into self-plagiarism.

The fact that you are aware of more recent research related to what you did a few years ago is a good thing that you will be able to discuss during interviews. But that doesn't allow you to make a revision of your Master thesis.

  • 18
    No, it wouldn't be self plagiarism if the original is properly cited.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 11:04
  • 2
    Also, can we take this opportunity to acknowledge what an incredibly non-sensical concept "self-plagiarism" is? No, of course translating your own thesis is not any form of plagiarism. It may become some other kind of academic misconduct if you try to double-dip by pretending that the translation is some new research work, but it's still not plagiarism since you are still the author of all involved works.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 8:00

My suggestion would be to instead write a condensed paper in English, describing your research question, approach, and main results, properly referring to the relevant sections or page numbers in the thesis.

This paper would then also include a "Discussion" section that details those advances in the field since your thesis was done that you mentioned, and maybe some other insights you've since developed, or ideas for future work. If you could find some link to the research area of the group you're applying to, that might also go in that section.

You could then even publish that paper on ArxiV, to make your results more accessible for everybody.


When making claims in a paper, it is important to be accurate and specific. In your case, if you are claiming that "no one has yet applied tech A into field B," you should make sure that this is actually the case. Citing sources that support your claim can help to add credibility to your argument. However, if it turns out that your claim is inaccurate, you may need to revise your paper. In some cases, it may be possible to explain away the inaccuracy by providing context or additional information. For instance, you could note that your claim was true at the time of your research but is no longer accurate. Alternatively, you could qualify your claim by adding a time frame or geographic location (e.g., "to the best of my knowledge, no one has yet applied tech A into field B in the United States"). If none of these options are possible or desirable, you may need to delete the claim from your paper altogether.


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