In my final year research project, my supervisor sent me a random research paper of 20 pages and told me to translate it to my native language, using all of the commonly known translation techniques. That was in the field of colonialism and its aftermath of natives. My question is: Does such a thing (translating a research paper) exist internationally in other universities and count for final year research project?

I aske this question because it seems to me unusual that translating a random research paper and counting it as final year research project. The usual idea in my mind is that when a student reaches the final year, they should look for a topic in any field and start their research journey?

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    Is this for undergraduate work? Mar 12, 2023 at 22:40
  • 2
    Probably a basic question, but you aren't studying translation, correct? Mar 13, 2023 at 2:42
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    Is there any chance that the professor wants this paper translated for a "real reason," rather than just as an exercise for you? Along similar lines: are you sure that this translation is the entire project, rather than just a first step?
    – cag51
    Mar 13, 2023 at 3:51
  • Is "your native language" your field? If yes, it makes sense.
    – Nobody
    Mar 14, 2023 at 7:03

3 Answers 3


I think the key issue is that there is no universal standard rules for what a 'final year research project' is supposed to be. Your university has a list of requirements to award a degree, I assume in your case a bachelors degree. This list of requirements includes a final year research project and presumably some rules on what does or doesn't count for such a project at your university. As Buffy pointed out, the specific rules often depend on your department as well and are not the same even across your university.

So I would recommend to check within your university and department what the rules for a final year research project are and to ask around what other students at your university have done for their research projects. I don't think there are any general rules that can decide whether translating a paper would count at your department and unviersity or not.

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    Any such regulations are more likely to be department based than for the university as a whole. The field has a big impact on what is appropriate.
    – Buffy
    Mar 13, 2023 at 12:57
  • @Buffy Very true, I added in department dependence.
    – quarague
    Mar 13, 2023 at 14:15

Yes, it is uncommon, at least at the place I currently study, if you are only expected to translate the work without adding input to it. Usually, this comes in the form of annotated bibliography or literature review (which you might need to read more works) in order to incorporate with your research or projects. That being said, some instances of translating previous work are considered appropriate.

In defense of that, translating the work can be viewed as the demonstration of the understanding of the work and the necessary knowledge in both field knowledge and communication to translate the literature, which might make this appropriate. That being said, there are other ways to assess this comprehension.

Nevertheless, consulting the university guideline and department policy would help you understand what to expect as others have pointed out that there are no general rules for this.

  • (+1) Even for undergraduate mathematics in the U.S. (about as far as I think you can get from actual research in a given subject in a given country) I think such a translation should include many filled-in details, references to later work, additional exposition about connections to other topics, etc. Whether this is done in-line (maybe separated apart using smaller font or other means), as bottom-of-page footnotes, as end of-the-work footnotes, etc. is something an advisor should clarify. But a translation with nothing else seems to me something you'd do for a Foreign language project. Mar 14, 2023 at 7:07

I don't think this would be common, but if your supervisor thinks that it is appropriate then there should be no reason why it should not be allowed. They think you will learn something about the paper that is deeper than you would get from just reading it.

If you are taking a deep view of a topic you may gain some insight that would be hard to get otherwise.

You may even need to read, if not formally translate, some other papers to understand this one, say, the papers it cites.

Most people won't really count this as research, but reading and understanding the literature is a necessary first step. I would probably ask for more, such as an analysis of the paper (at least), but can't disapprove of your supervisor's position.

A doctoral dissertation usually starts with exactly such a step, though probably not with a written translation.

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    Reading a paper is a first step, but by just making a translation OP will not even be writing their own summary of the literature, never mind carrying out the main step of actually doing something of their own
    – Oliver882
    Mar 12, 2023 at 22:37
  • @Oliver882, agree, but all such requirements are local.
    – Buffy
    Mar 12, 2023 at 22:52

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