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Notes on the preparation of theses

  • For each sentence you write, ask yourself which information is conveyed by it to the reader.
  • Do not write about what made you the most effort, as this is usually not interesting for the reader.
  • Be clear about what (scientific) question you want to answer in your thesis, in each chapter, and possibly in each section.
  • Do not be unspecific if you know the precise number. If you evaluate 58 instances and your code fails to solve 6, then write it fails on 6 instances and not "on a few".
  • In general words like  “often”,  “seldom”, “many”, “few”, “usually” are not particular scientific
  • If you put a table or a diagram into your text, describe what the reader is expected to learn from it, e.g., which statement is supported by this or that entry of the table and why. It is not the job of the reader to find out themselves.
  • If there are strange numbers or NaNs in your table or funny bends in your figures, explain those even if they are not part of what you want to show. You should not leave the reader wonder what the meaning of it is.
  • All column heads, if they are not completely obvious, should be described or defined in the text.
  • Think about how many digits after the decimal point make sense, i.e., convey meaning to the reader.
  • Make sure your citations are complete and correct.
  • Make it is clear what you are citing and what your contribution is. Whenever there is no reference, you claim this as your contribution. Moreover, even if you have thought of it yourself, still check whether there was somebody before.
  • If you write about some problem, explain the motivation. Why are you trying to solve this problem? In contrast to mountains, there is an unlimited number of problems. So “it was there” is not a good enough motivation most of the time.
  • For citations, use at least [LH32], better cite as Laurel and Hardy (1932), or Laurel and Hardy [14]. Just having [55] is not acceptable. (This is not an extended Abstract with a 4-page limit).
  • There are two significant points about any thesis: (formal) correctness and scientific content. For a bachelor thesis, it is all about correctness. Try your best. For a master thesis, correctness regarding scientific presentation is even more critical, though there is also some expectation on the scientific content. For a Ph.D. thesis, correctness is taken for granted, and the vital part is the content.
  • For the notation/definition part of a bachelor/master thesis, do not try to write this yourself. Copy, i.e., cite it from somewhere. First, it should be standard anyway; second, it is often surprisingly hard to get definitions entirely correct. There is nothing to win in this part of the thesis, only to lose.

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