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Das
Schreiblabor

Literature

On the one hand, there are textbooks on the subject in the narrow sense of the word.

Firstly we would like to recommend our own book, which we have been told many times is also very useful for writing longer dissertations and theses:

Frank, Andrea; Haacke, Stefanie; Lahm, Swantje (2013): Schreiben in Studium und Beruf.Stuttgart / Weimar: Metzler Verlag.

Less up to date, but useful in reflecting on the framework, conditions and demands of writing a dissertation is the book by:

Knigge-Illner, Helga (2009): Der Weg zum Doktortitel. Frankfurt am Main: Campus.

This how-to guide book focuses more intensely on clarifying the parameters and requirements for writing dissertations and theses:

Stock, Steffen; Schneider Patrizia; Peper, Elisabeth; Molitor, Eva (2009): Erfolgreich promovieren. Berlin: Springer.

This book by Silvia, Paul J. is a useful reference book for everyone, doctoral students in particular, as it perceives of writing as a well-organised and manageable intellectual task rather than a mystery that depends accidental creativity.

Silvia, Paul J. (2007): How to Write a Lot. A Practical Guide to Academic Writing. American Psychological Association. 

The following books also guide you on how to go about the task of writing but have a greater "analytic" stress:

This classic book by Howard Becker is highly recommended, and not just for social scientists and researchers in the humanities for whom it is written:

Becker, Howard (2000): Die Kunst des professionellen Schreibens. Ein Leitfaden für Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaftler. Frankfurt am Main: Campus.

We also find this guide by Keith Hjortshoj wonderful in its perspective on dissertation writing and its insight into and thoughts and advice on the doctoral phase of life. While the book is written in view to the American system of PhD education, its insights and hints apply to the doctoral phase at German universities as well.

Hjortshoj, Keith (2010): Writing from A to B. Ithaka: Cornell University.

This book by the same author is incredibly useful if you are stuck in the process of writing and are thinking of how to move it forward:

Hjortshoj, Keith (2001): Understanding Writing Blocks. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

To write a dissertation in the natural sciences we recommend:

Ebel, Hans F. (2009): Bachelor-, Master- und Doktorarbeite (4. aktualisierte Aufl.). Weinheim: Wiley-VCH.

Müller, Eva (2013): Schreiben in den Naturwissenschaften und Medizin. Stuttgart: UTB.

The Disciplinary Writing Guides of Harvard University are not specific to the task of writing a dissertation but nevertheless are of interest and helpful for anyone writing intensively in their discipline for their dissertation.

 

The Materials for Doctoral Students

Writing and learning

Study at university is essentially "learning through writing": it is necessary to extract information, to write research papers, to take notes in lectures, to record laboratory results etc.

The Laboratory Protocol is a good example of the way in which academic learning and writing are interconnected. A good laboratory protocol shows that the student has acquired certain skills that go further than just writing. Through the writing process, students learn what it means to conduct experiments, to document results and to demonstrate this in an understandable way to others.

Learning through revision

"Whoever attempts to make the first draft into the final version, is forced to accept his initial idea on the theme as the ultimate one."          (Keith Hjortshoij)

Many research and seminar papers would be much improved if they were not written at the last minute and submitted in the state of edited drafts. To instruct students to revise their texts after their initial structuring and formulation would not just help improve the quality of the end result. Through the revision of texts, students can, above all, become adept in the active processing of course contents.

What it means to revise a text can be best illustrated by the French word for "draft", which is "broullion". This word literally describes the state of disorganisation when developing thoughts through writing. Experienced writers know that as a rule new ideas are discovered when writing the initial draft and former ideas are modified and developed further so that the planned structure of the text begins to unravel. Through these processes, writers learn and research becomes fruitful.

The art of text revision involves intellectual wrestling: how to address the target audience, find an appropriate structure and present this initial "disorganised" thinking clearly on the final page. Writing competence is learned through this process. It makes sense then to encourage students to revise all their written assignments.

How to encourage students to revise written texts.

Ideas for effective writing tasks from the US and Canadaa

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