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Should I write my paper in English, or should I translate my work?

Should I write my paper in English, or should I translate my work?


Perhaps you wish to submit a paper to an English-language journal, but your first language is not English? So should you write your paper in English, or should you write it in your first language?

Charlesworth Author Services offers a range of services for first-time and experienced academic authors, but how do you know what is best for you?

1. Translation vs language editing

You may find it easier to write your manuscript in your first language. We will then translate your article into the language you require (this is sometimes referred to as the ‘target’ language). This is most often English, but we also translate from English into Chinese. All of our translators translate into their first language, so that the final paper is written by a native speaker and reads smoothly to other native speakers.

One further consideration if you decide to write your article in your first, or native, language ahead of translation is to review the main style requirements of your target journal publication. If you apply the main structure to the content at this stage, it will help with the translation and editing process.

Note that some journals stipulate that certain paper types need to adhere to word count limits. Since the translated paper may have a higher or lower word count than the original language, it is possible that the translated article will also need adjustment to the word count. However, we can help advise on this and apply a word count reduction, if that is required, once we review the translated paper.

Alternatively, you may wish to write your manuscript in English as the language required by your chosen journal. Charlesworth Author Services offers an English language editing service to ensure that your text also reads well to native speakers.

2. Writing in your own language

You can express yourself perfectly, and our translators will take your text and express it equally well in their native language. All of our translations are checked by a native speaker who specializes in the specific subject area. This way, you can be sure that you have used the correct terminology, and our professionals will ensure it is translated correctly. You may even wish to take advantage of Charlesworth Author Services Translation + Editing service, which also includes a formatting service for your chosen journal.

3. Writing in English

By writing your paper yourself in English, you can ensure that the specialist editor sees your original wording. This means there is no risk of anything being lost in translation. After editing, all of the papers go to a quality control (QC) editor, who has a second look at the paper to ensure that everything has been done correctly. Charlesworth Author Services language editing service also includes formatting to the style of your chosen journal.

4. So how do I choose what to do?

Perhaps this checklist will help you to decide:

Writing in your native language:

You can express yourself fully.

Terminology is written correctly by a native speaker (you).

The final paper is written by a native speaker (the translator).

The final translation is fully checked by a QC editor.

All terminology is approved and corrected by the specialist QC editor.

Because of the specialist service, translation can be more expensive than language editing.

Some stylistic and word count adjustment could still be required (although our editing service can help with this).

Writing in English (your journal’s publication language):

Your words go directly to the specialized editor, who is most likely to understand your meaning.

Your text is polished by a native speaker, and will sound natural to other native speakers.

The final edited paper is fully checked by a QC editor.

Because language editing can be completed more quickly, it is generally cheaper than translation.

Application of word count limits and use of standard styling conventions (e.g. with regard to headings and keywords) is generally easier if applied directly in English.

Because your text is not written by a native speaker, there is a risk that your meaning will not be fully understood by the editor.

Editors at Charlesworth Author Services will highlight problematic areas for you to review.

Terminology can be used incorrectly, based on dictionary translations or other translated works instead of specialist resources written by native speakers.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both publication paths. While professional translation may create some problems, unprofessional or machine translation is more likely to cause problems in the meaning and incorrect terminology. Please be very careful to use reliable, native language resources if writing in a language that is not your first language.

Additional help and support

Any questions? Charlesworth Author Services can help advise you on writing your paper and getting it published. Please contact us at asktheeditors@cwauthors.com or helpdesk@cwauthors.com.



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