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Bachelor and Master's Theses

At this page, we provide some information necessary while writing a thesis. Basically, the same rules can be applied for any other scientific paperwork. We must admit that this information collected here is neither complete nor represents it a general rule set. Nevertheless, we try to keep it up-to-date and comprehensive. If you have comments or suggestions, please drop me a short note.

General rules and hints

  1. Structure of the document
    The main document should be organized as follows. The ratio between the main sections (2.-4.) is 1/3 to 1/3 to 1/3! Regarding the size of the thesis, a rough measure might be 40-70 pages for a bachelor thesis and 70-100 for a master's thesis.
    • Abstract / Kurzfassung: each about 1/2 page
      • How to write an abstract
      • Motivation (Why do we care?)
      • Problem statement (What problem are we trying to solve?)
      • Approach (How did we go about it)
      • Results (What's the answer?)
      • Conclusion (What are the implications of the answer?)
    • 1. Introduction (general motivation for your work, context and goals): 1-2 pages
      • Context: make sure to link where your work fits in
      • Problem: gap in knowledge, too expensive, too slow, a deficiency, superseded technology
      • Strategy: the way you will address the problem
    • 2. Fundamentals / environment and related work: 1/3
      • comment on employed hardware and software
      • describe methods and techniques that build the basis of your work
      • review related work(!)
    • 3. Developed architecture / system design / implementation: 1/3
      • start with a theoretical approach
      • describe the developed system/algorithm/method from a high-level point of view
      • go ahead in presenting your developments in more detail
    • 4. Measurement results / evaluation / discussion: 1/3
      • whatever you have done, you must comment it, compare it to other systems, evaluate it
      • usually, adequate graphs help to show the benefits of your approach
      • caution: each result/graph must be discussed! what's the reason for this peak or why have you observed this effect
    • 5. Conclusion: 1 page
      • summarize again what your paper did, but now emphasize more the results, and comparisons
      • write conclusions that can be drawn from the results found and the discussion presented in the paper
      • future work (be very brief, explain what, but not much how)
    • References
      • all papers and articles used in the thesis must be cited (and each reference must be used in the thesis!)
      • a rough number is 20 references for a bachelor thesis and 30-40 for a master's thesis
      • avoid to cite web sites
      • We highly recommend to use BibTeX for creating the references and citings
      • Check out BibDB for managing the collection used papers (and to browse available papers)
      • Further information: IEEE Rules, BibTeX
  2. Writing style
    • Avoid passive voice, active voice is easier to read. There is nothing wrong saying I (or we) did it
    • Avoid negative sentences: write in a positive (affirmative) voice, they are easier to understand.
    • Always use vector graphics for figures (PDF, EPS, ...)
  3. Last minute checks
    • Did I spell out the main points of the interpretation of results?

    • Are all equations, figures, tables numbered?
    • Do all graphs, tables, diagrams have descriptive captions?
    • Are all axes and scale carefully chosen to show the relevant effects?
    • Are all axes labelled? Do the labels include the measurement units?
    • Are citations in the caption (if a graph is borrowed)?

Further reading


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