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I am doing a master's study in a German university. I had some setbacks during my master thesis project's lab work. This delayed the time I had available to write my report later on. The setbacks were not enough for an extension of my project by the examination office (My school has very strict rules for extension). So by the time the official deadline for submission came, I submitted a written report that was not very good quality (not so bad that I would fail, but not so good that I get a good grade either).

However, my supervisor knows the setbacks I had and the commitment and hard work I had shown to overcome them, so he agreed to give me an extra week to work on my thesis report and he will grade that instead (instead of the submitted report).

My questions are:

  1. The extra time would allow me to do a much better work than the officially submitted report. What happens when somebody compares the quality of my officially submitted work and a grade that doesn't match with it (maybe better grade than the report deserves?)?

  2. The official and more permanent record of my thesis would be a sub-standard report that does not reflect the time and effort I spent in the practical work. Is there possible way to fix this?

  3. Is this considered an academic misconduct?

Thank you in advance for your insight.

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  • It is certainly misconduct on the side of your supervisor, at least on a formal level.
    – user151413
    Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 21:47

3 Answers 3

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While I realize that Germany is pretty strict about its rules, you haven't committed academic misconduct. I think the general view would be that if it is approved by your advisor it is fine. I assume they have the authority to grade you as they see best.

As to providing a better permanent record, if that is what you mean by "fixing it", I'd suggest that your advisor is the one to intervene. It might be possible, or not, depending on the rules.

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    I would say it is misconduct by the advisor to grade something which is not the official manuscript. On the same footing, you could give the grade just by knowing that the student did good work, without ever looking at the thesis, or despite the thesis being horribly written. All of this is very understandable, but on a formal level this is clearly misconduct: You have to grade based on the official thesis.
    – user151413
    Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 21:49
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From my experience with Germany, the only people who will really look into your thesis will be the people who grade it (your professor and the second grader). If they are both ok with this approach you will be fine.

Some universities will put the theses in their library afterwards, but I have never heard that they will also put the grades there, so even if someone were to loan your thesis out from the library, they will not know which grade you got.

If you apply to an academic or industry position afterwards, noone is expecting you to send your whole thesis with the application, but rather the topic and/or grade, or maybe a short summary.

So the chance of anyone really reading your thesis afterwards (unless you are actively forcing it) at low. As long as the prof and second grader are both ok, take the offer.

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  • "Some universities will put the theses in their library afterwards" That is a version of the thesis that often has been redacted after the examination. Examiners can demand such a redaction during the examination (rules might differ between universities, but this should be pretty universal in Germany).
    – user9482
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 7:49
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There are several thesis and dissertations which are not a final piece of work. Several students just do a reasonable work for thesis and submit to graduate. Professors are also okay with that. University/graduate school does not care as long as your committee approves it. So, if it is submitted and approved, you are done with your thesis. Move on.

Answering your first and second questions, I agree more time will help you to produce quality work. Instead of improving quality of thesis (if already approved by school), use extra time and effort to develop publishable manuscript to submit to a peer-reviewed journal. If you publish your work, people would not care about thesis. They will refer to your published peer reviewed paper instead of thesis. That is a big win and compensation for your lower quality work in thesis. People usually won’t compare your thesis and paper because everyone knows peer-reviewed works go through more rigorous review than thesis. Grades are not very important in graduate school and job market. For academic work, research is important and for non-academic job skills are important. So publishing your thesis helps to demonstrate your skills for academic and non-academic jobs.

Finally, it’s not academic misconduct. As long as you have done reasonable job and approved by committee and university, you should b good.

Alternatively, if you are not interested in publishing your work in peer reviewed journal but only want to refine your thesis, don’t even bother to correct it because if it is approved by committee and university, you are done with the process—just moving on is the best option. Resubmitting a revised thesis and replacing with new one is a big hassle and remains are permanent record saying “you replaced your thesis” which may be counterproductive as some people may assume you have done mistakes which force you to make corrections.

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