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Scientific German--Writing Assignments for the Semester

Academic Integrity, Essays and Homework

This course is governed by the prevailing Codes of Student Conduct and of Academic Integrity of the University of Michigan and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA). All work submitted must be original student work produced for this course, with proper quotation and citation of the contributions of others. Violations of Academic Integrity will be taken seriously and can in serious cases result in a failing grade for the course and/or referral to the LSA Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education. Official LSA policies on Academic Integrity, and also a quiz on Academic Integrity, can be found at: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/academicintegrity/

The four essays you submit for this course are where this policy crucially applies. This means:

  • You may NOT get someone who is proficient in German to proofread your essay. We recognize that you can actually learn a lot from having someone look over your essay with you, but we have to enforce this rule in order to make the grading fair for everyone. It IS OK for you to ask your instructor, an instructor in the German Lab, or some other proficient speaker 3 or 4 specific questions on how to say something. If you do so, please put the relevant text in bold print in your essay and include a note at the end with the name of the instructor or peer who helped you. If the person who helped you is a UofM German instructor and s/he chooses to help you with more than 3 or 4 things, you may cite the additional items in the same way.
  • You may ONLY use an online translator for single words and short phrases. When you do, please underline the relevant word or phrase and note the source you used at the end of your essay. Do this also when you use a paper dictionary. If you used multiple dictionary/translation resources, find a way to cite clearly which ones you used for what word/phrase. Note that online translators often produce noticeably absurd translations. The less you use them, the better your grade is likely to be. The hassle of having to cite every use of such resources in your essay will hopefully serve as an additional disincentive and reminder to keep you from overusing them!
    • It is normal (and good practice!) to look up the genders and plurals of nouns, and the conjugation patterns of verbs you use in your essay. You do NOT need to cite your use of online or paper dictionaries for this purpose!
    • We strongly encourage you to use a German spellchecker for your essays (and for your homework, and also for any spells you cast in German). You do NOT need to cite your use of this resource.
  • If you consult any additional resources not assigned in the course (e.g. wikipedia or other online sources), please cite them at the end of your essay, even if you did not quote from them directly. Put any direct quotes in quotation marks and cite the source with a footnote. Any format for the citation is acceptable if it allows your instructor to find the specific source.
  • If you have no sources to cite (you didn't look anything up in a dictionary, no one helped you, and you consulted no other sources), please write "I did not consult any outside sources for this essay :) " at the end!
  • If in doubt, ASK me before submitting your essay!!

Fundamental Advice
You will get the most out of writing the essays for this course by creatively using the language you have learned, and thus "making it your own." Applying what you have learned will "make it stick," whereas new words and phrases you look up are much less likely to "stick" in your mind after you have written the essay. Thus, you benefit much less from the additional work of looking them up, and you increase the potential for mistakes. When you write about a German text you have read, look for opportunities to express the ideas from the text more simply in your own words. Where that is not possible, integrate the language of the text as much as you can into your own language, so that you are actually practicing and thus learning how to use the new terminology you are taking from the text.

  • Click here for advice on writing in German without thinking in English.

Writing Assignments for the Semester [NOTE: Please give a word count for your essays!]
Invent an identity. There is only one restriction: you are a scientist. You can choose a real present or historical scientist and invent parts of his/her biography, or you can just "create" a personality from scratch. If you want to be a mad or corrupt scientist, be it. If you want to switch gender on yourself, fine. Any age, nationality, ethnicity. All fields of scientific or quasi-scientific inquiry are open to you: astronomy, biology, physics, psychology, medical research, etc., as well as astrology, numerology, alchemy, etc. Choose a century -- 20th will probably be easiest. If you want to be a 13th century alchemist trying to make gold, that’s okay, too, but take a good look at how the assignments are worded below and think about how you will be able to make this person interact meaningfully with contemporary scientific texts. Make yourself a complex, dramatic, and possibly disturbing person. Be dangerous or saintly or very, very strange. Acquire odd and intriguing habits. Then write a kind of biography in four essays over the course of the semester, as follows:

Aufsatz 1: a 350-word autobiography [=Autobiographie], including a description of your research interests, a detailed description of your looks, including the way you dress and carry yourself, and perhaps a sketch of your childhood, including formative experiences ("the moment I realized that insects were my future.…")

Aufsatz 2: one letter (400 words) to a colleague or friend (remember you are still writing as the scientific persona you created for Aufsatz 1!). At least half of the letter should be devoted to a discussion of one or more German scientific articles you have read either in class or on the web or elsewhere: you should say what it was you read and how it is relevant to your work. If you write about an article we did not read in class, please include a link to the article, or a hard copy.

Aufsatz 3: an abstract [=Abriss] (250 words) of a scientific publication your chosen personality has authored (You can either make up an imaginary experiment or study, or you can base what "your" scientist "did" on something you read in class or on the web or elsewhere.)

Aufsatz 4: another letter (400 words) as above--see Aufsatz 2.

Free Reading Journals
In the course of the semester, we will sometimes ask you to pick an article to read independently and then to write a short hand-written journal entry in response to the article. These "free reading journals" should be summaries of what you read, and can also include your reactions to and questions about what you read. They will go into your homework grade, and, like all other homework assignments, will be graded on a "check/check plus/check minus" basis. We strongly suggest (but don't require) that you write these journals from the perspective of the personality you have adopted for your essay writing assignments (i.e. how would your adopted personality view the article you read? Could s/he use the information in the article for his/her projects/research?). This should give you ideas for what to write for your free reading journal, and would make it possible for you to use ideas from your free reading journals as a basis for subsequent essay writing assignments.



   
 

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