FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

The section below outlines general questions concerning the Chair of Technoscience Studies. 

Scientific Writing and Working during your Studies

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  • What does ‘scientific writing’ mean?

    Scientific writing means thoroughly analysing complicated issues and presenting them with reason and objectivity. Scientific work encompasses researching, excerpting, structuring, thinking about different interpretations, and testing theses. The skill of correcting and improving academic insight is central to the process of knowledge production.

    Writing and working scientifically requires being concise. Succintly describe issues and references to familiar authors and theories in your own words. Be as to the point as possible, while still covering the topics in-depth.  

    This may feel time-consuming and unusual at first. Developing scientific writing skills takes time and effort. Associate professor Dr. phil. habil. T. Zoglauer, interim head of the chair, advises even experienced scientists typically write up to one page a day. You should estimate, at a minimum, the same number of working days as the number of pages you aim to submit. 

  • How should I structure a written paper?

    Every written paper contains a cover sheet, body of text, references, and a declaration of academic honesty.

    • Cover Sheet: Includes the title of the paper, author’s name, study programme, number of semesters, and information on the lecture or seminar (module number, lecturer). Download the chair’s Word template (DOT file)* by saving it on your device (open link, then click right → Save as...) and open it as a word processing program.
    • Body: A structured text organized according to its style, purpose, and context. Different types of text include: commentary, scientific paper, literature study, book or film review, essay, article, blog entry, et al. PDF | Text types with explanations
      • Scientific texts are published in academic journals or books (e.g. papers, comments, or literature studies). When citing other texts, including non-scientific ones, avoid colloquial expressions. Prioritise the correct presentation of arguments and facts. 
    • If you use figures or graphics, a list of figures and tables is mandatory. Additional attachments include interview data or empirical data you collected yourself or that you want to highlight.
  • How do I find a topic for my research/thesis?

    If you have any questions regarding the choice of topic for your research or dissertation, please come to the Chair of General Engineering Science!

    On the notice board you will find a current list of topics relating to our current research interests - make your choice and contact us. If you already have your own topic, we will be happy to help you with the further elaboration and thematic focus!

  • How do I hand in my written papers?

    E-mailing a digital version of your paper is sufficient. Please use a working e-mail address that accepts replies. Provide additional contact details in case of technical difficulties.

    Please scan your declaration of academic honesty and add it to your paper (see: ‘What should I include in a declaration of academic honesty?’).

    Name your file as:

    [semester]_[1st word of the seminar’s name]_[your name].[file extension]
    → e.g. SS2018_How_Meyer.doc

    If you are asked to hand in a printed paper, please deliver it to the chair’s mailbox. The mailbox is in Lehrgebäude 10, box number 44. This is located in the room next to the beverage dispenser, near the entrance to Zwischenbau VI

  • What kind of texts should I use?

    With the onset of digital media, text production on the Internet has proliferated tremendously, including scientific and academic texts—‘Wikipedia’ serving as a perfect example. Additionally, some journals now publish exclusively online, while other scientists use blog entries to discuss their findings and hypotheses. This leads us to an entirely new intellectual culture, with knowledge becoming digital common property. Previously established methods of scientific quality assurance (proofreading books or journals) are changing. 

    This means the distinctions between what is literary and scientific writing, and what is popular and academic writing, are in flux (e.g. see The Third Culture: Literature and Science (1998) by Elinor S. Shaffer; or "Between fact and fiction: Demarcating science from non-science in popular physics books" (2003) by Felicity Mellor in Social Studies of Science 33, pp. 509-538).

    We consider the decisive criteria of merit to be the verifiable presentation of arguments and facts. This includes context-sensitive handling of historically and institutionally contextualized meanings.

    When writing a scientific paper, pay attention to the type of text(s) requested. See below for a list provided by the chair:

  • Which formalities apply when writing a paper?

    Please note that the following formalities are mandatory when handing in a written paper:

    • Font size: 12 pt
    • Font: Times New Roman
    • Line spacing: 1.5 lines
    • Line format: ragged margin (‘left-justified’)
    • Margin: top/bottom 2.5 cm; left/right 3 cm
    • Page numbers: centered on top

    We urge you to follow these guidelines in formatting texts for submission. This will allow your lecturer to focus on the content of your paper rather than being distracted by its form.

    Correct spelling is essential. Please note spelling conventions according to Duden Spelling Dictionary (24th edition and later or online) for German texts or a standard reference for English spelling conventions (e.g. The Oxford Dictionary). For finding grammatical mistakes within your text, you may also use the spell check included in your text processing program.

    Further notes:

    • Add page numbers and use the same font throughout the entire document.
    • Use 6 pt or less for the space between paragraphs. Think carefully about starting a new paragraph and know its purpose.
    • Select an italic typeface to emphasize. Choose bold typeface only for headlines. Use both typefaces sparingly.
    • Separate citations longer than two lines into an isolated section (left/right margin: 0.5 cm; spacing before and after).

    This chair offers you a pre-formatted DOT file that you may download (Click the link, then do a right click → Save as...). Save the file on your device and open it with Microsoft Office Word or a similar text processing program.

  • Which citation style should I use for my written papers?

    There are a lot of different citation styles when it comes to quoting from professional literature and the preferences vary by departments and chairs.

    At the chair of Technoscience Studies we prefer the ‘Author-Date’ style. For support, you will find attachments below. Please note that references in your document or paper need to be consistent!

    The university library also gives you access to more information and software licences concerning various literature management programs.

  • What should I include in a declaration of academic honesty?

    Every written paper needs to be accompanied by a signed declaration of academic honesty. This confirms that you have independently written your paper. Confirmation is validated by your signature. 

    Find downloadable templates below (in line with RahmenO-Ba and RahmenO-Ma § 12 (9) and § 24 (4)):

  • Where does scientific misconduct begin?

    Plagiarism, idea theft, or falsifications can have serious consequences as scientific misconduct. Especially in teamwork, researchers share responsibility for the misconduct of their colleagues and can be held accountable for it. "Research & Teaching" has inquired about this with the German Research Foundation (DFG). According to the procedural rules of the DFG, scientific misconduct begins where there is a violation of scientific core duties "and this violation occurs in a blameworthy manner and with some weight". Gray areas include so-called "honest mistakes" or violations of good scientific practice, which, for example, are not covered as offenses in the procedural rules of the DFG for dealing with scientific misconduct or in the model statute of the German Rectors' Conference for safeguarding good scientific practice and dealing with scientific misconduct, due to their lack of seriousness.

    Source: Henrike Schwab, Forschung-und-lehre.de

  • How to work with ChatGPT in the classroom?

    To learn the answer to that question visit our subpage  "Citing instead of Plagiarizing".

Studying and Teaching Techniques

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  • What is ‘reading with reciprocity’?

    In the context of higher education, the ‘reading with reciprocity’ assignment alters the usual assignment in which students write a critical analysis to learn both to identify arguments of another author’s ideas or work, and to evaluate them to avoid fallacies. Instead of criticizing and tearing arguments apart, students doing the ‘reading with reciprocity’ assignment elaborate on the text and see its positive practical implications regardless of the strengths of the arguments or whether they agree or disagree with the author. This enables students to learn more problem-solving skills and to put knowledge and ideas together in a collaborative and horizontal way.

    In the ‘reading with reciprocity’ assignment, students shall pick three or four questions among the following to write a 1600-2000 words essay. Only the first question is mandatory to answer, the other ones as optional:

    • What is the main purpose of the author and what arguments does she/he make?
    • What are the strengths of the text you have read?
    • If his/her ideas are implemented, what would be the positive effects on the world?
    • What is useful in this text to your own work or future career?
    • What can we further elaborate on the text to complement the author’s message?
    • Which new arguments could be introduced based on the text?
    • How do you imagine collaborating with the author to grapple the problems that he/she is trying to solve?
    • What is this author saying that could be useful to your own thinking?
    • How could the world benefit from his/her main ideas?
  • How do breakout spaces work during a video conference?

    What is a breakout space (or breakout room)?

    It is possible to divide a group of conference participants into several smaller groups using so called ‘breakout rooms’. This allows them to interact in smaller groups for a certain period of time. Afterwards all participants ‘automatically’ rejoin the larger virtual conference room. 

    How can I prepare a breakout room?

    Only moderators may prepare breakout rooms, most likely your lecturers. As a student your are most often a ‘participant’ of a virtual conference room, if not assigned a different role. As a participant you might get ‘invited’ to join a breakout room—you have to accept the invitation to join the room, which basically works the same as the larger virtual conference room, only with less people. By default, here, you will have more ‘rights’ as you switched your ‘role’ from participant to ‘moderator’; so you are able to use more of the functions provided (e.g. share your screen, upload slides, share an external video). 

    What is the purpose of a breakout space? 

    In teaching, it can enable working in smaller groups. For instance, you’d be able to discuss given questions, document your ideas on your shared notes and prepare to present them in the larger round. Remember to copy everything you need afterwards somewhere else because all your notes will be gone once the time of the breakout room has run out!

  • How should I prepare a screencast?

    What is a screencast?

    A screencast is a video of the visual content of your screen. Typically, a screencast also includes audio content, such as the recording of your voice when you give a talk. You are free to include a video feed from a webcam to show you as the person providing the talk.

    What is the purpose of a screencast?

    At the chair, we ask for screencasts as a form of an asynchronous presentation that can be shared with other students within the course and assessed by the lecturer as part of an examination. Recording a screencast offers a key advantage over a synchronous presentation: you can re-record your presentation if you are not happy with a result of an earlier recording.

    How can I prepare a screencast? 

    Structure a screencast like you would structure a presentation—consider specifically welcoming your audience, introduction, a main body presenting facts, reasoning, the conclusions you draw and the questions that your argument raises and should be considered in a discussion.
    A range of screencast production softwares exists. We recommend OBS – Open Broadcaster Studio, which is free, open source and available across platforms. Free tutorials are available amass. You may consider editing your recording in a video editing software afterwards, to remove disruptions, etc.

  • What is a Module’s Online Quiz (MOQ)?

    What is a MOQ good for?

    It is a widely held view that games improve the learning environment and create a better student experience. The MOQ activity is a way both to reinforce the learning capacity of students, and to generate a more dynamic class in the educational process of online modules.

    How do instructors create a MOQ?

    A MOQ activity can be easily implemented in online higher education. Instructors will generate MOQs through online applications (see, for example, the free plan of Mentimeter). This application allows to create a MOQ using online questions and answers to aggregate a total score and reveal the final winners.

    How do students take part in a MOQ?

    Students can participate in the MOQ through tablets, mobiles, laptops and desktops which have Internet access.

Organisation of your Studies

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  • How is my performance graded?

    The module grades are assigned in line with the university’s framework § 15 (1), (4) and (5):

    The individual evaluation of module examinations is done by the respective examiners in form of grades.

    The following grades are used:

    1.0/1.3: very good
    → a very good performance

    1.7/2.0/2.3: good
    → a performance that goes above average requirements

    2.7/3.0/3.3: satisfactory
    → a performance that meets average requirements

    3.7/4.0: sufficient
    → a performance that meets the basic requirements

    5.0: insufficient/failed
    → a performance that lacks severely and therefore does not meet the requirements

    Culture and Technology is one of the few courses of study at the BTU whose module grades consists mostly two partial grades put together (3 CP + 3 CP). One partial scoring is made for participating in one seminar. Both scores should be given according to a scale from 0 to 50 and comprises 50 percent of the complete final performance. The lecturer will hand the grade to the admissions & registrar’s office.

    5.0< 50%< 50< 35< 30< 25 < 20< 15< 10

    By law, the admissions & registrar’s office may not accept partial scores. That is why students are not able to ask for their partial grades there.

    The lecturers manage the partial grades and give them to the students directly. For data protection reasons, they cannot be sent e.g. via Moodle, but the lecturer has to tell the results privately to every student (e.g. via e-mail).

    In fact, partial grades (PG) are sometimes given by the lecturer to the module’s director. The module’s director will then unite the PGs to a final grade which will be sent to the Admissions & Registrar’s Office by e-mail or by inclusion in the exam list.

    The average is calculated as follows:

    •  \(\frac{\textrm{PG}_1 + \textrm{PG}_2}{2}\leq \left[\textrm{whole grade}\right] + 0.5 \Longrightarrow \textrm{round down}\)
      e.g. \(\frac{\textrm{grade 1} \,+\, \textrm{grade 2}}{2} = \textrm{grade 1.5} \leq \left(\textrm{grade 1} + 0.5 \right) \Longrightarrow \textrm{grade 1.3}\)
    • \(\frac{\textrm{PG}_1 + \textrm{PG}_2}{2} > \left[\textrm{whole grade}\right] + 0.5 \Longrightarrow \textrm{round up}\)
      e.g. \(\frac{\textrm{grade 1} \,+\, \textrm{grade 2.3}}{2} = \textrm{grade 1.65} > \left(\textrm{grade 1} + 0.5 \right) \Longrightarrow \textrm{grade 1.7}\)

    The academic transcript (‘Studienbuch’) is not used for recording grades anymore. Some students might want to use it anyway to document their studies in a clearly organised way.

  • Why should I care about fixed exam dates taking place within the ongoing semester?

    In the courses and other teaching activities of the Chair of Technoscience Studies, students need to submit exam components before deadlines within the ongoing semester. It is crucial you meet these deadlines; you can ask for extensions in written form in exceptional cases (e.g. medical certificate). We consider fixed dates pedagogically important and necessary for organisational and administrative reasons. Pedagogically, the Chair of Technoscience Studies cares for designing examinations in a way that allows students to complete courses with an experience of success—temporally close to the engagement within the learning activity. This ensures that you can focus on the ongoing semester, focus on your studies, without distraction by “procrastination” (cf. Häfner et al. 2014). Also, from a regulatory perspective, BTU’s study regulations require students to complete their modules before the end of a semester.

  • What is the use of the academic transcript (‘Studienbuch’)?

    Since the most recent study regulations at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, all grades are sent electronically to the admissions & registrar’s office. After that, grades are entered into a data management system and become visible for students on the online student portal.

    Previously, at the Chair of Technoscience Studies, the ‘Studienbuch’ was used as a way to transfer grades from the module’s director or examination board chairman to the admissions & registrar’s office. Students had their grades entered in an academic transcript, which they physically brought to the admissions & registrar’s office where the grade was then entered into the electronic system.

    The academic transcript (Studienbuch) is now used primarily as a study aide to give a picture of students’ academic progress.

  • How do I find a topic for my research/final paper?

    If you have issues regarding your research paper or final paper, we kindly encourage you to arrange a meeting at the Chair of Technoscience Studies! 

    You will find a table of different research topics on the bulletin board. Feel free to pick one—we can help you with elaboration and focus. This equally applies if you already have an idea for your research subject.

  • Where can I check out previous students’ work?

    The Chair of Technoscience Studies owns a comprehensive archive of past internship reports, research papers, and final papers from students. Feel free to ask us for access in our premises.

    For issues concerning dissertations, please ask the library staff of the theses department for support.

  • How is the final exam administered?

    Module 13509 Master Thesis includes 30 CP, consisting of the written paper and the colloquium (RO §23). The preparation time for the paper (from choosing a topic to submission of the paper) is four months. Afterwards, the oral examination (colloquium) is scheduled. You will be admitted to the final exam after you have collected at least 72 CP before application. The traineeship or the interdisciplinary research work does not have to be completed beforehand, although it is advisable. Students may suggest a subject for the master’s thesis to the potential examiner or they may choose from the available list of topics (StPO 2017 §8).

    Module 12194 Bachelor Thesis (StPO 2017, 13348 StPO 2008) is structured in a similar way. At least 126 CP must be collected before admission to the exam is granted.

    Completion of the Final Exam

    1. Finding a subject:
      • The student decides on a topic together with their mentor and announces it in writing at the admissions & registrar’s office.
        The declaration of intent needs to include:
        1. the master thesis’ subject,
        2. the confirmation of your mentor (a.k.a. first examiner).
    2. Admission:
      • The admissions & registrar’s office checks the forms in accordance with the requirements. If approved, a postal or electronic admission for the module will be provided. After this, student and mentor are informed about the deadline.
      • The allotted time may be prolonged if a request is made in writing at the admissions & registrar’s office.
    3. Submission:
      • You will have to submit your paper by handing in three bound copies and an electronic version at the admissions & registrar’s office. With the submission, you need to name the second examiner. Furthermore, you have to attach the signed declaration of academic honesty.
      • A lot of students have their master thesis bound as a book but you may choose a more simple and cheaper mode of delivery.
    4. Grading:
      • Your master thesis will be viewed within four weeks by two examiners. At least one of the examiners has to be from BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg and the ‘examiners and observers can be the full-time academic or artistic personnel, lecturers and people experienced in professional practice and training at the University’ (RO2016 §19).
      • The evaluations need to be received by the first examiner. They include a formalised data sheet and an evaluation of at least two pages of continuous text. You should be able to determine the grading criteria from this data sheet.
      • The oral exam (colloquium) takes place at least six weeks after handing in the paper and is open to internal university members (RO §25). If there is a valid reason (e.g. illness, pregnancy), it may take place at a later date. The oral exam consists of a presentation of the thesis work by the student (about 20 - 30 minutes) and an examination talk with the first and second examiner (about 30 minutes). There will be a registrar who writes down the exam’s process. At the close of the exam, the grade is announced, combining 25% of your oral and 75% of your written performance. The first examiner needs to send in the master thesis’ result to the admissions & registrar’s office within two weeks after the colloquium.
      • The student may take a look at the evaluation results. This will be supervised by a member of the admissions & registrar’s office and the result has to be announced within four weeks of submission.
    5. Certificate:
      • The master certificate will be given to you in English and German. There will be three documents (certificate, diploma supplement, deed).

    You will find more information in the examination and study regulations.

  • Where can I find more information?

    If you have more questions regarding studies, exams, etc., check the websites of the admissions & registrar’s office where you will find various important documents.

    For more information about the Culture and Technology study programme, see the following websites:

* Using MacOS, you may need to save the file by right-clicking and then downloading the linked file.