Final Thesis

In Master's, Master's, Bachelor's and admission theses, candidates should basically prove the same thing: that they have learned during their studies to grasp a complex scientific subject area through independent literature research, to summarise the most important facts and debates of this subject area in a relevant manner and to condense this into a self-contained overview presentation of their own. This should correspond to the conventions of the subject in terms of style, typography and formalities. When you write for me, these somewhat abstract "conventions" are concretised in the guidelines of my style sheet.

The assessment of the work is based on how you achieve these goals. An independent scientific achievement in the sense of a new theory, discovery or empirical study is not envisaged in this type of work, and the absence of such an achievement is not an obstacle to the award of the top mark. On the other hand, it is of course not "forbidden" either, but rather a clear positive point in the assessment.

In addition to the above-mentioned task of an annotated and, if necessary, also assessed research overview on a given topic area, you can, after consultation, also add your own empirical component, which I would like to expressly encourage you to do.


First, however, we have to agree on a suitable topic. In principle, I do not assign topics, but expect one or more topic suggestions from you, which should result from your studies or from any other kind of previous work, but without taking up the topic of an already written term paper (or a presentation). Please let me know your suggestions for topics as soon as possible.

It is indispensable for me and at least useful for you that we can assess each other as well as possible as Romance scholars. For you, this means that you should take a look at my profile (and, if necessary, try to compare it with your own). For me, on the other hand, it means that I need a complete list of all the linguistics courses you have taken in order to get a picture of your course of study and level of knowledge. If you have also taken linguistics outside of Romance Studies, be sure to list these courses as well. In addition to the title of the seminar, I also need the semester, the lecturer and, if applicable, your own contribution (title of your paper or term paper, etc.).

Selection of the Topic

We will then decide together on the final topic of your paper. I expect you (e.g.):

  • that you first find out what has already been published on the agreed topic (literature search);
  • that you select 10-20 especially important or particularly usable titles from the usually unmanageable mass of publications and that you draw up a list of the underlying literature base;
  • that you place the agreed topic in a broader problem context and inform yourself about the terminology commonly used in linguistics (example: If you are writing on the imperfect in Spanish, it would be a good idea, as an introduction, to do some general research on the concepts of "tense" and "mode" - including in non-Hispanic, general linguistic sources);
  • that you identify which descriptive problems are discussed in connection with your topic and which theories are proposed to solve them;
  • that you present, where possible, representatives of different opinions or theories on the basis of well-selected characteristic texts and elaborate their differences;
  • that you discuss and justify which of the theories do not convince you.

As you can see, almost the entire paper is based on summarising the texts of the specialist literature and also citing particularly important or characteristic formulations. In principle, everything you write must be substantiated, i.e. it must be comprehensible to the reader where this information comes from. This text form of summarising, quoting, discussing and proving is ultimately what makes your work scientific, and it is regulated in detail by formalisms. Learning the formalisms and producing this type of text in a fluent and stylistically confident manner is a central learning objective of academic university studies. Experience has shown that these techniques are assumed everywhere at German universities in a more or less strict interpretation, but unfortunately they are only taught in exceptional cases.

The "style sheet": Your set of rules for the formal aspects of the term paper

In order not to leave you alone with this problem on the one hand, but on the other hand not to have to explain the same thing over and over again, I have prepared a detailed "stylesheet" in which you will find information on literature research and on the content, formal and typographical design of a scientific paper.

This style sheet is based on years of experience in correcting student papers. You should read it through in its entirety before you even begin to research the literature. It is best to mark any references that surprise you and that you would probably have violated without my advice. When you have finished your work, you should go through the style sheet again and make sure that you have followed everything. I am happy to help you with any doubts you may have and you should not be afraid to contact me with detailed questions - but only if you have first made sure that the question in question is definitely not already addressed and answered in the stylesheet. My extensive willingness to help is based on the assumption that you will first exhaust all obvious resources before asking me. So download the stylesheet at this address:


Also bear in mind that this text is revised again and again and check now and then whether you are still using the latest version.

I have divided the notes of the style sheet into §§ to make my work easier. So I will refer to the paragraphs when advising you (and afterwards when correcting you) and assume that you will then read them in the stylesheet. So, for example, if I object to an underlined heading, I simply write "§ 3.1" next to it, which means: "Here, § 3.1. of the style sheet has been violated. Please read this paragraph again and correct the error on this basis!"

The Work Stages

Search for Literature

After we have agreed on a topic, your first step is the literature search. A sensible literature base is the foundation of every successful academic paper and I am of course happy to help with the research. However, on the other hand, the literature search is a central learning goal of your studies and I would therefore like to help you with it, but not replace the entire research. I would therefore ask you to read my style sheet first. It already contains some central tips on literature research, which I would ask you to take to heart. As much as I am willing to help you and answer your questions, I will be displeased if you ask me things that I have already covered in detail in the said stylesheet.

The next step is to start your own research. Be sure to also use the internet to find references to usable PRINTED literature!

Then create a list of the literature that you have found yourself and that you would use as a basis for your work. Please make sure that this list already fully complies with the formal requirements of my style sheet! Send this list to me as an e-mail attachment in Word (better: RTF) format or pasted directly into the mail text, so that I can comment directly on individual titles if necessary. I will then comment on, shorten and add to your list or consult my own bibliography database for you; in emergencies I have sometimes even scanned and sent whole articles ...

My willingness to help is directly proportional to your willingness to research independently and, if necessary, to identify and obtain literature that is more difficult to access. If you think that you have not found anything suitable at all in your research, then please at least describe to me in detail how you proceeded in your search and where you have already searched everywhere. Be sure to ask the library staff as well!

If you independently find relevant (and new!) literature on your topic that I did not already know, I am impressed and already clearly inclined to give a better censoring. Perhaps you should also know that I ALWAYS look at the bibliography first when correcting. If it is thin, poorly selected or does not meet the most basic standards of form and care, experience shows that little can be expected from the rest. If you find interesting literature that I don't know myself, I might ask you for a counter-favour later :-) I am also always grateful for scanned articles!

Attention: Even if you think you can start with the actual writing of the paper late in the semester or even during the holidays, you should start with the literature research and acquisition immediately. It is a lengthy process and interlibrary loans can take time.


Once we have agreed on a literature base, you can start sourcing and evaluating it. When you have more or less finished reviewing your literature, you should come up with a preliminary outline, which you also send to me. When we have also agreed on this. You can start with the actual work.

If, after reviewing the agreed reading, you also want to agree on the rough structure of your work with me, you are welcome to do so.

Of course, all these steps are optional for you. Just by taking the style sheet to heart, you will be well prepared. I have already awarded many good grades for papers and assignments that were not written under the close supervision described above, and I am then pleased that I had so little work to do and that the result still turned out so well. On the other hand, my experience is that all papers graded "unsatisfactory" were those whose authors had waived supervision!


Once we have agreed on the bibliographical core and, if necessary, on the structure of your paper, my supervision basically ends and you work on your own from that moment on. Of course, I will still be available to answer your questions at any time.

In general, you should write your paper as if it were to be submitted for publication in a relevant journal. In addition to my style sheet, it is certainly helpful to develop a feeling for the style and presentation of scientific papers by always reading them from the point of view that you should learn the style used there yourself.

When the work is finished, you should have it proofread by others wherever possible to eliminate spelling and stylistic inconsistencies and to check whether the structure and presentation seem comprehensible to an outsider. This applies all the more if your mother tongue is not German!