German Studies Majors Research Skills

Writing Intensive Classes

Students who have taken writing intensive classes should already have learned the following skills:

  • to define and articulate the need for information and identify a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information beyond the web search engine
    [AT THE VERY LEAST – students will be able to identify and locate the two most appropriate types of information needed to complete their assignment.]
  • to articulate and apply initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources
    [AT THE VERY LEAST – students will be able to distinguish between popular and scholarly materials in a variety of formats such as books, periodical literature, and websites.]
  • to acknowledge and cite the sources used in conducting research for an assignment using an acceptable style guide
    [AT THE VERY LEAST – students will be able to locate the appropriate style guide and emergency online help.]

These skills may be regarded by all students as a base for further study. Help is available through the Neilson Library Reference Department's Ask a Librarian options.

What Should German Majors Learn and In What Classes?

German Studies 110

By the time they complete GER 110, students should

  • be able to understand the various elements of individual entries in a German-English / English-German dictionary
  • be aware of the supplementary materials available in such dictionaries (for instance, lists of strong verbs)
  • be able to produce German characters (ä, ö, ü, ß) in MS Word

German Studies 200/250

The emphasis here should be on using skills the student has already mastered in English (use of a dictionary, word processing, and basic online searches), but refining them for German Studies. This includes such things as: German Spellcheck, etc., in MS Word; online dictionaries, and also reputable German-English and German-German dictionaries.

  • Students should achieve appropriate technological proficiency to be able to use German-language electronic dictionaries and word processing software: MS Word, LEO
  • Apprentice scholars need to maintain a flexible vocabulary which will allow them to alter initial search strategies which prove unsuccessful as well as to understand, support, or refute an argument
  • Students should be able to perform basic searches of and cite German websites

Specific Texts/Links:

Call Number/Access
German English Dictionaries  
Oxford Duden German Dictionary ref PF 3640 .O94
Oxford Language Dictionaires Online click here
PONS (Collins German-English/English-German) Dictionary ref PF 3640 .C68
LEO http://dict.leo.org
German-German Dictionary for non-native speakers:  
Duden Deutsch als Fremdsprache (Mannheim, 2005) ref PF 3670 .D82 2002
German-German Dictionaries  
Duden Universalwörterbuch ref PF 3625 .D83 2001
Brockhaus-Wahrig deutsches Wörterbuch ref PF 3625 .B7 1980
Basic German news websites  
Yahoo Deutschland http://de.nachrichten.yahoo.com/
Google News Deutschland  http://news.google.de/
Sueddeutsche.de http://www.sueddeutsche.de
Perlentaucher.de http://www.perlentaucher.de
MS Word (German Spellcheck)  

German Studies 300-348

At this level, students should familiarize themselves with basic American academic resources, while at the same time they begin to specialize their research methods to reflect a deeper engagement with German Studies. By the end of GER 300, students should

  • demonstrate mastery of skills required for GER 200/250 (outlined above)
  • be able to locate scholarly sources, becoming skilled users of standard databases such as (but not limited to) the Five College Library Catalog, WorldCat, MLA International Bibliography, and J-STOR.
  • be able to acquire materials using Interlibrary Loan
  • submit a bibliography of primary and secondary sources that accords with a recognized style manual (Chicago Manual of Style or MLA)
  • create a bibliography using a citation management tool
  • have become familiar with scholarly German dictionaries, knowing when and how to use them
  • know key contact personnel in library: Neilson Reference, Martin Antonetti, Karen Kukil
  • be able to cite secondary sources accurately and honestly

In addition to the resources listed above, students in GER 300-348 should be familiar with the following:

Specific Texts/Links:

Call Number/Access
Scholarly German Dictionaries  
Deutsches Wörterbuch/ von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm ref PF 3625 .G72
or click here
Duden, das grosse Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache and other Duden in 12 Bänden ref PF 3625 .D823 1923
Style Sheets  
Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guides & Style Manuals
MLA Handbook Citation Guides & Style Manuals
Writing Papers: A Handbook for Students at Smith College Jacobsen Center
Resources in the Five College Libraries Five College Library Catalog
WorldCat, MLA Bibliography, and more resources found on the Smith College Libraries German Subject page... http://www.smith.edu/libraries
/subject/german
RefWorks Log in to RefWorks
Smith College Libraries Contacts  
Neilson Reference Librarians neilref@smith.edu
Martin Antonetti, Curator of Rare Books mantonet@smith.edu
Karen Kukil, Assoicate Curator of Rare Books & Reference Archivist kkukil@smith.edu

German Studies 201-349 (in English)

The research skills necessary for GER 201-349 resemble those learned in GER 300-348, though because knowledge of the German language is not required, German resources may be beyond the scope of many students. Still, one can expect that students will, by the end of these courses, be able to

  • locate scholarly sources, becoming skilled users of standard databases such as (but not limited to) the Five College Library Catalog, WorldCat, and MLA International Bibliography, J-STOR, and BDLS Online.
  • submit a bibliography of primary and secondary sources that accords with a recognized style manual (Chicago Manual of Style or MLA)
  • create a bibliography using a citation management tool
  • determine the historical context of a topic using basic and scholarly reference sources

In addition to the resources listed above, students in GER 227/230 should be familiar with the following:

Specific Texts/Links:

Call Number/Access
Dictionary of Literary Biography click here
Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie, (DBE) CT 759 .D48 1995
Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism click here
Oxford Companion to German Literature click here
Deutsche Literaturgeschichte von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (Metzler) ref PT 85 .M3 1991
Kindlers Neues Literaturlexikon  ref PN 41 .K54 1988
Brockhaus Enzyklopádie click here
Kritisches Lexikon zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur (KLG) ref PT 155 .K7

German Studies 350+

Advanced German Studies majors at the seminar level should master the research skills necessary to make an original contribution to the field of German Studies. This requires that students be able to contextualize their claims within current scholarly discourse, drawing upon quotable and reliable resources and presenting their arguments cogently.

Beyond the skills required in GER 200/250 and GER 300-348, students should

  • know how to identify the standard scholarly editions of major writers and to distinguish these from less reliable print or online sources
  • be able to identify the credentials of an author whose work they are citing
  • be able to put scholarly sources into historical context
  • through the use of book reviews, review articles, and citation databases, be able to defend their use of scholarly materials by evaluating the reception of such works by others in the profession
  • be able to apply their skills in using literary databases such as MLA International Bibliography to resources in related disciplines such as Philosophy, Religion, History, Film, the Performing Arts, and others as necessary

In What Ways Will Student Skills be Assessed?

Students completing work on a paper at the 200 level should submit a bibliography in which primary and secondary sources listed reflect the use of the online catalog, at least some scholarly journals through the use of MLA International Bibliography. Students should be prepared to defend the credentials of authors cited if asked.

In 350+ level seminars in German Studies students should routinely cite both supportive and oppositional arguments from primary and secondary sources in papers including book reviews or other articles found through the use of footnotes or citation indexes. The seminar paper might include an annotated bibliography in which students are asked to indicate the source of their citation and its relative value to the argument within the paper.

Ethical Issues

An 'ethical use of information' means to make a clear distinction between received knowledge and the production of new knowledge. The incorporation of the work of others into his or her own must comply with such distinction. Therefore, every written and/or oral work in the discipline must clearly state its source, if it has any.

June 23, 2013