Dictionary/glossary of common phrases used in academic and institutional life

This could be a combination of a dictionary and glossary of the most common phrases and their definitions in English used in the academic and institutional life of the host institution/country. Special attention should be paid to country/region specific terms that have no actual parallel outside the host country/region, for instance, academic ranks and their hierarchy in the region of Central and South-Eastern Europe. It could be also extended by terms related to the administrative duties that need to be done shortly before or fight after arrival to or upon departure from the host country/institution. Such a tool would be of immense help to both international as well as local PhDs and academics struggling with proper vocabulary when talking to their colleagues.


Improved skills and knowledge Better communication and cooperation

Basic information
Categories Social Integration & Daily Life Language Support, Language Policy
Mobility stages Pre-arrival phase During mobility phase Upon arrival
Delivery schedule Continuous
Importance Nice to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers)
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee Visiting scholar
Career stages of researchers 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

When compiling the dictionary and glossary, the following steps should be taken: 

  • conducting a survey on institutional levels to see what kind of phrases the academics and administrative staff consider most common phrases in academic/institutional life and afterward translating them to English/ elaborate clear their definitions in English

  • divide the collected phrases into two categories: academic and institutional life vocabulary

  • special attention should be paid to the host country/region specific vocabulary and their clear definitions (e.g., certain academic ranks and their position in the institutional hierarchy in the region of Central and South-Eastern Europe that have no parallel outside the host country /region - such as "docent" which typically translates as "associate professor"). 

  • It could be also extended by terms related to the administrative duties that need to be done shortly before or fight after arrival to or upon departure from the host country/institution (e.g. national visa, scientific visa, Blue Card, hosting agreement, etc.)

  • have the translations and elaborated definitions proofread by experts (Foreign languages department, HR department, Immigration office....) 

  • Deciding whether the dictionary/glossary will have only the online version or a paper copy, or if it would be best to develop an app, dictionary/glossary can also appear at the end of the Guide for international PhD students and researchers 

  • List the collected common phrases in alphabetical order according to a respective category (academic vs institutional life),

  • Publishing the dictionary/glossary 

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Language department
  • Centre of language/studies preparation
  • IT support department
  • HR Department
Partners involved in practice setup
  • Other HEI (not national)
  • Immigration office
  • IOM migration information centre
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Eures office
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Software developed or purchased
  • Software implemented
  • User procedure and manual designed

Internal Actors

@Language department, HR department - may help with the proofreading activities, preparing definitions of those country/region specific phrases

@ IT Department - may help with proposing optimal solutions for placement of the dictionary on the institutional website, deploying suitable SEO, or developing an app

External Collaborators

@ Other HEIs - other HEIs could join their forces and prepare the dictionary/glossary together, the final product can be shared.

@other external partners - can help with consultations regarding the accurate definition of certain administrative processes

Practice delivery

Delivery activities are mainly connected with:

  • promotion of the dictionary/glossary among incoming PhDs/academics (e.g.during the welcome session/event)

  • encouraging the target group to use it in their daily life,

  • after the dictionary/glossary is launched it might be validated by a focus group consisting of international PhD students and academics

  • implementing suggestions for improvement based on the validation process (if applicable)

  • updating the dictionary/glossary when necessary.

Challenges (factors to consider): Maybe it would be for the best if this dictionary existed as an app; that would make it instantly easier to update and upgrade when necessary.

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • Language department
  • IT support department
  • IRO/welcome centre
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of researchers assisted annually
  • Average satisfaction rate
  • Number of software users

External Collaborators

@ Other HEIs - other HEIs could join their forces and prepare the dictionary/glossary together, the final product can be shared.

Examples of practice

Common Expressions in Academic Writing

Purdue University has a whole section on its site dedicated to the common phrases used in academic writing, along with detailed explanations of what they mean. However, it is for writing only.


The University of Navarra Academic Dictionary

The University of Navarra has a whole page on its site dedicated to over 3000 academic expressions translated from Spanish into English, in an alphabetical order.


Glossary of the residence permit/work regulations related phrases

The glossary is a part of the Guide for International Employees (researchers, academics, support staff) coming for long-term employment at the Masaryk University in Brno.


Universities Norway Termbase


Universities Norway (UHR) recommends that the suggested terms be used in the higher education sector to ensure a standardized terminology in both English and Norwegian. In English the UHR Termbase follows the Oxford University Press standard.

The UHR Termbase is for free public use. For translation of government administration job titles, the UHR Termbase follows the guidelines of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD).