Collaborative production and experimental labor: two models of dissertation authorship in the eighteenth century

This article examines two early modern models of dissertation authorship that both relied on extensive collaboration between the degree candidate and his supervisor. The dissertation conducted on the traditional model, practiced until the eighteenth century at German universities, was a joint product of the supervisor, who prepared the thesis in writing, and the degree candidate, who defended it in the oral disputation. The two collaborators shared the credit for a successfully defended thesis in different forms: right for public recognition and rights to use and reproduce the thesis. Instead of sharing the credit as two equal partners, each of them took advantage of his credit in ways that benefited his status. In the model that Albrecht von Haller introduced at Göttingen, the supervisor provided the student with a laboratory and experimental training, while the degree candidate wrote a thesis by himself based on the experiments he carried out, and defended the thesis without the supervisor chairing the disputation. The Haller model reveals two new elements that heralded the development of modern scientific education: divisibility of laboratory labor between the student’s experimentation and the research program to which it belongs; and feasibility of the requirement of experimental work in return for the exclusive authorship of the doctoral thesis
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.10.006
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