I am almost at the end of writing my Ph.D. thesis. I study in Germany, the language of the work is English and my mother tongue is Turkish. The doctoral study was a result of an international project, in which Turkish cooperation partners have also participated. I want to write the abstract section in 3 languages (English/German/Turkish), as I can reach a wider community thereby.

There is also an emotional part. My Ph.D. thesis is the most important work of my life till now, I want it to have a part in my own language. Is it allowed at all?

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    Why are you asking here instead of your university?
    – user9646
    Jun 24, 2016 at 7:23
  • @NajibIdrissi I want to know if it is generally allowed, and if someone has experience with such a situation. It could also be a guideline for the people who experience a similar situation in the future.
    – user57125
    Jun 24, 2016 at 7:37
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    There is not such thing as "generally allowed", regulations in different countries, even different universities, will generally be radically different. The one guideline is "ask your university".
    – user9646
    Jun 24, 2016 at 7:38
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    @NajibIdrissi You know I have experienced more than enough when I ask something to someone from student affairs and if they don't find anything in the regulations about it, they automatically say "no". But after I speak with decane of the faculty, it was OK. So said, I want to spare my and his time, too.
    – user57125
    Jun 24, 2016 at 7:43
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    @Endery "So said, I want to spare my and his time, too. " Two persons' time, one of whom this matters to (you), and one who actually has authority to answer (the dean). What about the time of everyone here? Jun 24, 2016 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


Whether it's 'allowed' or not, formally speaking, is exclusively the decision of your institution. However, this is your thesis, and within reasonable parameters you can and should do with it what you feel is right. Adding an abstract in your own language is certainly well within the field of reasonable.

In particular, it's important to note that many universities in Germany actually force you to write an abstract in German even if the thesis is in English (example), so adding an abstract in German is simply part of a standard practice in the country. Adding an abstract in a third language, which only adds value to the thesis without subtracting anything, is not that far from that.

That said, to be safe, you should still check with your institution - the library, or the director of postgraduate studies, or whoever is in charge of thesis submissions - that this is OK. If they say no, then you can still try to negotiate your way around it (leveraging your supervisor and other staff if necessary), but it's unlikely that they'll refuse.

  • Yes, I must write an abstract in German because of the regulations, I cannot avoid that. That I am adding value without subtracting anything, is a good direction. I can use it as an argument if I get objections. Thanks.
    – user57125
    Jun 24, 2016 at 7:13
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    Disagreeing with "Adding an abstract in a third language, which only adds value to the thesis without subtracting anything, is not that far from that." Einstein said: ""Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away"
    – emory
    Jun 24, 2016 at 9:49
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    @emory: That quote can be just as well used to support dropping an acknowledgments section. I think it is way too generic to be useful for a concrete question. Jun 24, 2016 at 13:55
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    @emory: It wasn't Einstein who said that, it was Antoine de Saint Exupéry. Jun 24, 2016 at 14:36
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    @emory Furthermore, besides Nate Eldredge's point, Saint Exupery said that while writing on the design of airplanes. You're free to apply the quote to whatever you want, but it was said about engineering, not writing.
    – recognizer
    Jun 24, 2016 at 16:48

It all depends on your institution. I did my PhD in Barcelona and while the PhD program was in English, the University insisted on an abstract in Catalan. The result was two abstracts, one in each language.

Furthermore, I chose to write the Acknowledgements section in a mixture of English, Greek and Spanish, depending on whom I was thanking, bringing the total number of languages used in the thesis to 4 (or even 5 if you count a couple of phrases in French).

In other words, yes, it is indeed possible, at least in some universities, to mix languages in your thesis. I doubt any would allow you to do so in the main body of the document, but both the Abstract and the Acknowledgements should be fair game. Nevertheless, the only people who can answer this for you are the relevant employees of your university.