Doing my PhD in England, I have barely talked about research in German, which is my mother tongue. In English, a publication in a journal is usually called a paper, or more formally, an article.

When I talked to German colleagues in England, they’d usually say Paper as well, even when talking in German. I’d always insist on saying Artikel, but I was quite alone with that (although noone ever corrected me). Recently, my dad (who is not an academic) said that the use of Artikel in an academic context would ring false in his ears.

What’s the correct way of saying (scientific, academic) article in German?

Some candidates could be:

  • Artikel (sounds strange)
  • Veröffentlichung (is too general, could apply to books as well)
  • Aufsatz or Essay (doesn’t quite capture it, would rather be translated to essay than to article)
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    cf german.stackexchange.com/questions/18327/… “Aufsatz” can be used, but an “Essay” is indeed something more specific. – Carsten S Dec 24 '15 at 10:25
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    @CarstenS: Such terminologies are very field-specific. In German-speaking computer science, Aufsatz can certainly not be used (without provoking some raised eyebrows). – O. R. Mapper Dec 24 '15 at 11:47
  • @O.R.Mapper, I do not mind raising eyebrows ;) We probably agree that in German “Aufsatz” is wider than “Essay”. We have discussed the use of “Aufsatz“ in connection with the other question. I like it, but it is a fair warning that it may be perceived as off by others. – Carsten S Dec 24 '15 at 12:05

As terminology like this is usually very field-dependent, I'll answer from a background of HCI-related subfields of computer science.

  • das Paper is the most commonly used term. It can refer both to journal and to conference papers (das Journal-Paper; das Konferenz-Paper).
  • der Artikel is not used as frequently, and to me it seems that it is mostly non-CS people (e.g. physicists or otherwise working in CS) who tend to say Artikel. Moreover, Artikel is a bit more specific in that it usually refers to a journal paper, not a conference paper. As in the fields I'm basing my answer on, conferences are the main venue and journals are much less relevant, this may well be a field-dependent culture thing, as the aforementioned physicists will be much more used to journal papers. On the other hand, as mentioned by the other answers, Artikel can also be (mis)understood to refer to a non-academic article, e.g. in a general-audience magazine.
  • das Papier makes you sound extremely old-fashioned, and I have only heard a few old professors use this word.
  • die Veröffentlichung/die Publikation is indeed very general, and it includes other forms of citeable publications such as posters, demos, and book chapters. On the other hand, it tends to describe only "atomic, permanent" artifacts, not everything that has been made public. For instance, if I set up a website on some research project, that website is technically something I have "veröffentlicht" (= made publicly accessibly), but it is not typically thought of as a "Veröffentlichung" or "Publikation" in my field.
  • der Aufsatz/der Essay is not used in the fields I'm acquainted with; to me, it sounds like something from the humanities or social sciences ... or from high school.
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    Im Bereich Geowissenschaften höre ich auch meist "das Paper" – Iris Dec 24 '15 at 23:15
  • Aufsatz is very common in Law, and to some degree in the humanities, too. – chirlu Feb 17 '16 at 6:57

Having spent some time in academia now and having talked to many German academians, I am pretty convinced that there is no German word matching the English paper or article (which do not mean exactly the same by the way; article refers to the most common type of paper).

In journalism and PhD examination rules, you often find:

  • Veröffentlichung in einer Fachzeitschrift or just Veröffentlichung, which does not really capture the type of the publication – e.g., an editorial or comment also qualifies as Veröffentlichung in einer Fachzeitschrift.

    Most importantly, Veröffentlichung explicitly implies publication, which paper doesn’t. For example a pre-print would already be called a paper but not Veröffentlichung.

  • (wissenschaftlicher) Artikel, which probably comes closest but also implies publication (in my understanding). Ironically, while article implies a certain type of publication (in contrast to letters, for example), Artikel doesn’t. Thus Artikel is a better match for paper than for article.

    Also, while paper is predominantly used for scientific publications and similar, Artikel can also apply to non-scientific ones, which may cause a misunderstanding in some cases.

  • (wissenschaftliche) Abhandlung (rare, archaic), which again also includes books.

Some academians also colloquially use Papier, which is arguably most precise with sufficient context, but, well, colloquial. Other people never use this word (in this context).


Coming from someone who spent almost all his academic life in chemistry, words that work are:

  • der Artikel

  • die Veröffentlichung (if you want to be really formal or speak to a non-academic audience)

  • der Fachartikel (also to non-academic audiences)

  • das Review (only for review articles); which is second-most common only to:

  • das Paper for any type of journal article, published or not. It is the most common term by a significant margin.

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