Certification versus Thesis
Thread poster: Lorena Luna
Lorena Luna
Mexico
Local time: 14:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 2, 2009

Hi! I am doing my thesis to get my bachelor degree. My thesis´topic is "GRADUATED REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSLATION STUDENTS AT LEMO BUAP: CERTIFICATION VS THESIS" the purpose of it is to prove that a translator´s certification is more useful for future jobs to translators that the thesis. Thus, I need your help!!!

This is my question for you.
According to your experience and knowledge:

What do you think would be more beneficial in translator´s profile a "Thesis" or a "Certificacion"?

Thank you for participating!


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:44
German to English
+ ...
Certification v. Thesis Jul 2, 2009

I am not sure I understand your question exactly, but if you are asking what brings in more jobs, either the authorization to certify translations (if this is what you mean by "certification") or having a PhD in translation, I would tend to say that the former is of more use because the authorization to certify the correctness of a translation often implies a certain degree of ability (or at least gives that impression).

I realize that you may be talking about some other "certification," like those offered by certain chambers of commerce and translator associations. If that is the case, I'd tend to think that such a certification might be of more use to a translator, whose customers are local (most customers abroad will not know the local certifications and will--most likely--not care), whereas a PhD is almost universally recognized.

In the end, I think that a PhD would perhaps be of most use to a translator in his or her main field of specialization, although in some respects the topic of a PhD-thesis is almost too narrow to be of practical use (besides showing that the person is able to deal with a specific topic scientifically and over an extended period of time).

Could you perhaps elaborate a bit on what you mean by "certification" and "thesis" (Master's or PhD)?



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chica nueva
Local time: 09:44
Chinese to English
'Naati certification' Jul 2, 2009

Hello Lorena

The Naati qualification is very useful in NZ and Australia, IMO. (See the NAATI website for details.) It allows you to do official government work, and gives you recognition in the national professional association. In my experience, some agencies require it. It is gained by passing a test. Some translation degrees are accepted by Naati as being Naati-equivalent. Without checking, I do not know whether your degree is on that list. Hope this helps. Parrot (below) is correct. You generally need to have a university degree before you can sit the Naati test at 'Professional' level.

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-07-02 11:17 GMT]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:44
Member (2003)
German to English
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Clarification? Jul 2, 2009

It's not really clear what you mean.

However, I can't see why one's thesis would be of the slightest interest to most potential customers unless it happened to relate directly to a project under consideration.

There are many flavors of "certification", many of them equally useless. What counts the most is a verifiable track record of good work in most cases. Certain categories of work may require special credentials or certifications, such as the ability to certify translations for legal purposes in some countries. In such cases, "certification" will bring in assignments which you would otherwise not be permitted to do. However, this does not apply everywhere.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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It depends on the client's superstitions Jul 2, 2009

Lorena Luna wrote:
What do you think would be more beneficial in translator´s profile a "Thesis" or a "Certificacion"?


By "thesis" I assume you mean a university education, and by "certification" I assume you mean accreditation by an industry standards body.

Which one is more beneficial to your profile would depend on whether a client is more impressed by you having studied for X number of years beyond school or by you having been rated as "acceptable" by some industry body.

On the one hand, a university education doesn't necessarily make you an adequate translator. Having certification means that you have demonstrated a certain level of adequacy in translation.

On the other hand, mere certification doesn't mean you're a *good* translator. Having a university education is more likely to make you a good translator than not having a university education.


[Edited at 2009-07-02 10:44 GMT]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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What I understand... Jul 2, 2009

(Correct me if I'm wrong)

Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

I am not sure I understand your question exactly, but if you are asking what brings in more jobs, either the authorization to certify translations (if this is what you mean by "certification") or having a PhD in translation, I would tend to say that the former is of more use because the authorization to certify the correctness of a translation often implies a certain degree of ability (or at least gives that impression).

I realize that you may be talking about some other "certification," like those offered by certain chambers of commerce and translator associations. If that is the case, I'd tend to think that such a certification might be of more use to a translator, whose customers are local (most customers abroad will not know the local certifications and will--most likely--not care), whereas a PhD is almost universally recognized.


... is that "thesis" may refer either to a Master or PhD thesis, whereas "certification" is some form of extra-academic validation (ATA, ITI, NAATI, ISO...), and hence a distinction between an academic and a test-based qualification.

I'm not too sure the distinction will hold water in the future, considering that certifying organizations now also resort to academic preparatory methods (ITI and NAATI, for one -- two?) However, the current reality is that credentials are accepted "as is where is" (subject to proof, of course); i.e., if certification is not available in a given environment (as in some EU countries, for instance), people will look for academic qualification and vice-versa.

In the end, I think that a PhD would perhaps be of most use to a translator in his or her main field of specialization, although in some respects the topic of a PhD-thesis is almost too narrow to be of practical use


True, many PhDs are non-linguistic, but DO identify field specialists. On the other hand, there are PhDs in linguistics who may have limited their research area to fields not particularly relevant to certain types of jobs.

But once again, relevance is subjective. I consider etymology highly relevant, for instance, but many clients may not even set particular store by the fact that a computer manual may be considered in terms of Greco-Latin neologisms, as against the "language in the streets" and in the trade.

There is always the middle ground: as preparation for testing may be reduced to studies in translation strategy, academic translation courses may likewise focus on translation strategy and produce the same results. How the market views the two types of "qualification", it seems to me, really depends on the market itself, and its understanding of circumstances and possibilities.


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Lorena Luna
Mexico
Local time: 14:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I mean by "Thesis"..."Certification" Jul 4, 2009

Thank you for your comments. All of you have help me to visualize better the real situation of translators´ work.
I would like to specify what kind of certification and thesis refer to. Derek your right, in your words, I am talking about "certification" like those offered by translator associatons. I am mexicain, so the Mexicain Translator Association (OMT) is one what I am interested.
What I mean by "Thesis" is one carried out by four years full-time students. I am coursing my 2nd thesis seminar (one of my last subjects) which is going to prepare me to present my exam (the presentation of my thesis) The Thesis is a requsite for getting a bachelor degree.
Although my school offers two profiles (Theaching and translation) the bachelor degree does not specify the area we were trainned. As a result most graduated translation students do not work as translators. Why, because they do not have a paper that support them. That´s why, I want to propose to get a certification instead of making a thesis.

Really your comments are important to me.
I have already gotten important material from each one of you. Thank you!


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:44
Member (2003)
German to English
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Why so binary? Jul 5, 2009

Lorena Luna wrote:
... I want to propose to get a certification instead of making a thesis.


These certifications are quickly acquired and are really no big deal. If you want to translate, why not pick a relevant thesis topic, have fun writing the thing and then go chase an interesting certification (maybe ATA?) afterward. A bachelor's "thesis" is really no big deal and is unlikely to impress anyone, but if you choose your topic carefully it might benefit you in some situations.

Edited to add:

I should have finished my coffee and re-read your original post first. If your objective is to determine the opinions of translators and potential users of translators' service with regard to qualifications and their usefulness, why not use Survey Monkey or a similar tool and design a proper instrument for gathering your data? Make sure, however, that you distinguish between different levels of "thesis". Very few people would think of bachelor's level education when you use that word.

[Edited at 2009-07-05 07:22 GMT]


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:44
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Prove? Jul 5, 2009

Lorena Luna wrote:

Hi! I am doing my thesis to get my bachelor degree. My thesis´topic is "GRADUATED REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSLATION STUDENTS AT LEMO BUAP: CERTIFICATION VS THESIS" the purpose of it is to prove that a translator´s certification is more useful for future jobs to translators that the thesis. Thus, I need your help!!!

This is my question for you.
According to your experience and knowledge:

What do you think would be more beneficial in translator´s profile a "Thesis" or a "Certificacion"?

Thank you for participating!



What's your approach for proving your thesis?
Do you use any statistical data? The answers of a few people would not be enough. Maybe a questionnaire with more detailed and well-thought-out questions addressed to a good number of agencies might be more useful, as these are the people looking at and making decisions based on translators' qualifications.

What are your criteria of evaluating "usefulness"? How are you going to decide the degree of usefulness in individual cases?
How do you exclude other factors from the equation that might have an impact (e.g. practical experience, living for a couple of years in the source language country, growing up bilingually, etc.)? Profiles usually consist of many more aspects than just these two, many of which I personally would consider much more important.

I'm not sure whether you will get answers that allow you to prove anything, maybe you'll be able to formulate a tendency based on agencies' answers that - everything else being equal - they would favor one qualification over the other. But even that would be rather hypothetical as everything else usually is not equal, and the proof is - as so often - in the eating or, in this case, in the quality of the translation itself, no matter what background the translator has.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oh, OK, I understand Jul 5, 2009

You meant "tesina". In English university-speak that's "research paper". We talk about theses in Masters and PhDs.

Then, I'm not surprised that you should say "as a result most graduated translation students do not work as translators". I've personally never met someone as young as 25 who does (granted, OK, maybe my experience is limited). At 25, those I know/knew (in the past) who want/ed to be translators are/were still in entry-level jobs, like international conference assistants, international public relations personnel, or even service personnel like flight attendants and airline ground crew. Some who get/got into teaching just stay/ed there.

It's not so much a lack of capability as openings, circumstances and opportunities. Bear in mind that a great majority of us who don't work, or never have worked in-house as translators are freelancers or sole traders. That implies a certain venture/risk orientation or capability not easily found in fresh graduates. Consider that we speak mostly of clients, and rather more rarely of employers. It takes quite a bit of work experience to find them, or, for that matter, to find a field in which we excel enough to find (and keep) them.

Hence, don't be surprised if we mistook your query for Master or PhD. I used to be on a curriculum committee and I remember the issue of translator training addressed there. The question was, to teach it on an undergraduate or Master level. At that point, there were already certain translation subjects being taught on the undergraduate level, and the observation from the teachers was, that these classes tended to "teach language". Teaching language is out of the scope of translation training -- ideally, a translation course should no longer have to go through this. The second problem was, granted you had students who knew source and target languages well enough, were they sufficiently focused in their linguistic experience to tackle specific translation fields?

Eventually, the curriculum committee opted for a Master, to cater to those people who came back to study on the basis of some previous experience already acquired which had aroused their interest in translation. I'm not saying this was an ideal decision: only that, since the university was state-funded, the mortality rate amongst undergraduates who didn't even end up in language-related fields would have been too high to justify translation as an undergraduate course. Having students who actually translated or had every intention to translate seemed, at that point, a preferrable option.

There's also another, quite natural factor to consider. If I mention that many people take language-related non-translation jobs at first, it is because such an experience gives one more security in his/her knowledge of languages. It's not often that one can have a childhood in bilingual or plurilingual immersion, and the life experience that was missing from one's background can be (even if only partly) acquired in this way.

Hope it helps.


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chica nueva
Local time: 09:44
Chinese to English
'thesis' and 'dissertation' Jul 6, 2009

Lorena Luna wrote:
Although my school offers two profiles (Teaching and translation) the bachelor degree does not specify the area we were trained. As a result most graduated translation students do not work as translators. Why, because they do not have a paper that support them. That´s why, I want to propose to get a certification instead of making a thesis.

Really your comments are important to me.
I have already gotten important material from each one of you. Thank you!


Hello again Lorena

Ha-ha. Very good. Best of luck! and let us know whether your supervisors agree to your proposal. How about asking in the 'Spanish' Forum on the ProZ site. What about contacting translation associations and agencies in your city/country for feedback. My degree was like yours (BAgrSc, with Economics, Science, or Management streams), so I think I understand your situation.

Two little points:

I suggest 'Graduated Requirements' -> 'Graduate Requirements' in your topic title (it's more native-English-like IMO).

Some 4-year degrees and BA(Hons) courses in this country have a final-year 'dissertation' option, which sounds similar to your 'thesis'. The various terms, 'thesis', 'dissertation', etc are so confusing that I post a Wiki link below.

Lesley

[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissertation#UK
At universities in the United Kingdom, the term thesis is usually associated with PhD/EngD (doctoral) and research Master's degrees, whilst dissertation is the more common term for a substantial project submitted as part of a taught Master's degree or an undergraduate degree (e.g. BA, BSc, BMus, BEd, BEng etc). ]

[Edited at 2009-07-06 00:17 GMT]


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