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When is it okay to pretend you've got a PhD?
Thread poster: Dylan Jan Hartmann

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Oct 11

If you read in the highlights of someone's ProZ.com profile "...[xyz studies] at PhD level..." what would you think?

99% would assume this person finished their PhD, am I right? Why would anyone dare be so brazen, right?

I ask the above because I've seen this on someone's profile who I know dropped out of their PhD studies 2 decades ago and never went back.

So, when is it okay to pretend you've got a PhD?

****

On my own profile I've said in brackets (graduation certificates shown in 'Qualifications' tab above)

Has it now come to a point that it is absolutely necessary for agencies to demand proof? Demand to see degrees/diplomas/certifications? Are there fraudsters everywhere?

Of course - a PhD never made anyone a better translator but I would argue the ambiguous phrase above is unethical - presenting false credentials/misleading clients, giving them a false assumption of some kind of expertise.

Or do a couple of years in a PhD program count (without finishing with a M.Phil)?

What do you think?


I had a class at ANU where we learned the inner workings of nuclear bombs, should I now add to my profile that I studied 'tactical nuclear weaponry' at Australia's top university? *jk


[Edited at 2018-10-11 11:42 GMT]


Tom in London
 

Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 21:23
Member (2011)
English to Russian
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It is up to you Oct 11

to decide exact words you use when describing you career path.

Take Ronaldo, for example. He is either just a good football player (like hundreds of others) who changed several clubs before he retired, or he is "the best player in the world and regarded by many as one of the greatest players of all time".

Do you feel the difference?

[Edited at 2018-10-11 08:07 GMT]


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:23
Member
Italian to English
I don't see a problem with it Oct 11

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:

If you read on someone's ProZ.com profile "...Linguistics at PhD level..." what would you think?


I would think they'd studied it at that level, but hadn't got the qualification, otherwise they would have written "PhD in Linguistics".

I don't see anything wrong with it personally - people should rightfully leverage any relevant experience they have when writing their profile, and "linguistics at PhD level" means they've studied it beyond undergrad and masters level.

There are any number of reasons someone didn't finish their PhD - ill health, finances, family commitments...; I don't think what you mention is any way deceitful or indicative of incompetence.


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Vera Schoen
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:23
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Never Oct 11

Of course the answer is never.

This person isn't actually saying they have a Ph.D, they've put something that's deliberately misleading. We translators are quick to pick up on this sort of thing because we're used to ferreting out every last shade of meaning from what we read. Clients might just see "Ph.D" and allocate the job.

Once, as a PM, I needed a translation into a language we didn't usually work from. It so happened that I had met a translator at university - I was in the process of getting credentials in recognition of my work experience, and so was she. She had in fact all but finished her Masters, and personal circumstances prevented her from finishing her thesis. She was already working as a translator, with experience in the field required. I told my boss that she was a "former student" at the translation school, which was perfectly true. Not being a translator, he didn't notice the nuance and assumed she already had the diploma. The client was delighted with her translation (I didn't speak the target language so I wasn't in a position to judge the quality of her work).
So it didn't really matter all that much.
I worked for years without any qualifications too, when I went to uni to get my Masters on the strength of my professional experience, I didn't have to take any courses in my translation pair, only courses on theory. I can't say I learned anything useful at all. I think clients are reassured to see that I have a Masters, which is why I did it.
But again, it really doesn't matter all that much.

If that person got to Ph.D level they are surely competent to translate texts. They might gain a client or two thanks to their "creative CV", but they will only keep the clients if they're good at translating. And that would still apply if they had that Ph.D


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Rita Pang
 

Rosalind Haigh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:23
German to English
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Lies, damned lies and qualifications Oct 11

Reminds me of when I worked in recruitment and one candidate's qualifications listed on his CV included "MBA (planned)".

Dylan Jan Hartmann
 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
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MODERATOR
TOPIC STARTER
"Awaiting Approval" Oct 11

Rosalind Haigh wrote:

"MBA (planned)".


hahaha damned lies!

Or those who've failed certification testing "Awaiting Approval"

[Edited at 2018-10-11 11:44 GMT]


Robert Forstag
 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 01:23
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Social norms Oct 11

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:

If you read on someone's ProZ.com profile "...Linguistics at PhD level..." what would you think?

99% would assume this person finished their PhD, am I right? Why would anyone dare be so brazen, right?


In certain countries people adore Ph. D. mark but ProZ.com environment demands performances, not social symbols or marks, which are not so practical.
Ethical issue is pointed out but it is unlikely to appear to translation outputs.

Soonthon L.


Kaspars Melkis
Dylan Jan Hartmann
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:23
Member
English to Italian
1% Oct 11

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:

If you read on someone's ProZ.com profile "...Linguistics at PhD level..." what would you think?

99% would assume this person finished their PhD, am I right? Why would anyone dare be so brazen, right?


I would just assume they attended some linguistics courses "at PhD level", not that they have a PhD, because that's not what they're saying, but then again, I'm not exactly an English native speaker...

It might be misleading (as Kay was saying), or outright deceptive, IF that is the only info they're providing about their education, but if it's coupled with a "MA in X", then I really don't see the problem. They're just saying their knowledge of Linguistics includes PhD level courses (without saying "I tried to do a PhD in X but dropped out").

At any rate, even so, that's kind of a double edged sword. On one hand you're saying you (supposedly) have an in depth knowledge of Linguistics, but on the other, you're also implying you've failed your PhD... (as long as there's nothing else about it in your bio/CV/résumé).


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:23
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Sugar coating is fine, but where to draw the line? Oct 11

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:
If you read on someone's ProZ.com profile "...Linguistics at PhD level..." what would you think?
99% would assume this person finished their PhD, am I right?


Yes, I suppose so. Still, the heading of that section is "Highlights", not "Qualifications", so it's not a lie exactly. If you studied for a PhD and did not get your degree, but consider yourself otherwise to be PhD material, and you want to say so, then "linguistics at PhD level" would be a valid way of saying it.

I have less of a problem with "linguistics at PhD level" than I have with the following:

Credentials:
[x] to English (BA ([xyz] Studies) Honours ([university name, year))
[x] to English (PhD (3 years accredited) ([university name, year))


Had I not known that this person did not actually complete his PhD, I would have interpreted "PhD (3 years accredited)" to mean "I have a 3-year PhD" instead of "I have completed 3 years of my PhD". The fact that this is mentioned in the section "Credentials" adds to the confusion. In my opinion, you can only call something a "credential" if you completed the relevant course.

I can understand his desire to mention his studies, though. When I started out as a translator, my résumé mentioned that I had studied linguistics at the Edinburgh University, but I added a note in brackets saying that I did not finish the course. Saying "did not finish" is more honest, but I grant that it also sounds less sexy.

Either way, if you mention studies on a profile page or in a résumé, the reader will always assume that you have actually completed the studies and achieved the formal, official qualification, unless you specifically state otherwise. If you speak the truth to an audience whom you know will misinterpret the truth that you're telling, then you are close to lying.


[Edited at 2018-10-11 11:35 GMT]


Dylan Jan Hartmann
 

David Hayes  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:23
Member (2009)
French to English
What's the problem? Oct 11

I see no problem at all with indicating that you have studied at a certain level, provided that you not actually claim to hold the final qualification. Apart from the knowledge gained during the years you were actually studying, mentioning an unfinished degree enables you to account for what would otherwise be a gap in your career path. And you are being honest by accounting for these years by saying what actually happened.
Depending on the stage, university, and indeed country in which a PhD was left unfinished, it may even be possible to list a formal exit point:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_but_dissertation

As others have said, there are any number of reasons why people do not complete their PhDs.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
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credential = theory + professional exp Oct 11

you can only call something a "credential" if you completed the relevant course
@Samuel, while it's a paper-based mainstream now, besides a certificate one should get (1) relevant skills, (2) knowledge, and (3) hands-on exp. So, do you really assume (or imply) it all suddenly comes right after the course is finished? And how about 'completed' courses without practicing, let alone a diploma mill? You weren't alive until died, yes?

I think there were no cheating: one of the meaning of 'credential' is "a certificate, a diploma", whereas the other is "a qualification, achievement, personal quality, or aspect of a person's background, typically when used to indicate that they are suitable for something"; why, sometimes even big boobs (another meaning of 'credential') would do too

[Edited at 2018-10-11 11:58 GMT]


 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
TOPIC STARTER
Case study Oct 11

For those arguing ‘what’s wrong’, should an unfinished PhD (admitted into PhD program after Bachelor's degree with Honours) hold sway over a Masters degree?

[Edited at 2018-10-14 02:00 GMT]


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Envy? Misunderstanding? Nitpicking? Oct 11

Dylan, it's not about cunning wording, but rather:
- How one got the diploma?
- What he learned there?
- What he did after getting the diploma?
- What he can offer NOW?
...

Shortly, something that WAS has little to do with NOW--even an undergraduate can translate in some fields better than a [once best] full professor.

A sensible client or employer makes it even simple: Show us what you can--your best!

Yes, even an incomplete PhD was over Master, because I really doubt that one took three years in PhD in vain--without any exp

[Edited at 2018-10-11 13:26 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
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Actually... Oct 11

I think the contested claim suggests a way with words.

And I could still get an MA for £50.

So yes, I'd take the incomplete PhD.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:23
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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@DziW Oct 11

DZiW wrote:
So, do you really assume (or imply) it all suddenly comes right after the course is finished?


It is rare that one would write and pass the final exam, but not get the qualification. If you didn't get the qualification (i.e. finish the course), it generally means that you may have attended some or all the lectures but that you did not write the final exam, nor did you pass the final exam. Passing the final exam is not a mere formality -- it tests and confirms that your attendance of the study had resulted in gains of knowledge and skill.

I acknowledge that one can stop studying for any number of valid reasons, and I don't mean to belittle anyone who have done so, but having merely attended classes without any evidence that you understood what you had learnt has much the same value as having read some books.

And how about 'completed' courses without practicing, let alone a diploma mill?


This thread is not meant to address the problem of worthless credentials. The fact that some credentials are worthless does not mean that most (or all) credentials have no worth.


Angie Garbarino
Dylan Jan Hartmann
 
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