Sunday, March 27, 2011

What do you charge?

Prof. Dr. Frank Möbus, professor for German Literature in Göttingen, was kind enough to share an email that hit his email box the other day. He has kindly permitted me to post this, however, we are changing the name of the student. The telephone number given did, however, match the name in a reverse telephone number lookup.
Dear Prof. Möbus!
I found you by way of the Internet and I would like to ask you if you are willing to write an expertise about my dissertation, because I am not happy with the previous expertises. The topic of my dissertation is [...]. If you would be willing to write an expertise, then I would like to ask how much you take and in what time frame you could do this. Many thanks in advance.
Sincerely, Nick Clueless, Tel: XXXXXX

After Prof. Möbus regained his composure he fired off this response:
Dear Mr. Clueless,
were I not completely convinced that your hoax in these post-Guttenberg times is a (perhaps even promising) attempt to gather material that you can use for journalistic purposes, I would immediately expend energy in order to find out at which university you have submitted your thesis and who your advisor is. I would then either chew you out myself or have you so royally chewed out that by comparison "Smoke on the Water" [the song Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had played during his farewell ceremony] will sound like Joan Baez playing the acoustic guitar on a warm spring evening.

Your request for a purchased expertise demonstrates not only blatant ignorance of academic conventions, but also contradicts all ethical principles of scholarship, were it to have been asked in all seriousness.

I wish you success with the answers that you obtain for what is most certainly a mass-mailing. If someone does, indeed, give a positive answer, he or she deserves to be nailed to the wall. Do keep me informed!

Prof. Möbus
What on earth was clueless thinking?


  1. What is this "expertise about my dissertation" (countable noun) that the student is referring to?

  2. "Dissertationsgutachten" - the grades for a thesis from Bachelor up to Habilitation are awarded on the basis of two expertises that are written by professors. They should either agree, or be near to each other.


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