What is economic writing

Scientific writing tips

Lectures, term papers and theses

There are rules for creating academic theses, term papers or presentations. Of course, the requirements for a presentation are lower than for the final thesis (e.g. bachelor, master or diploma thesis). But it doesn't hurt to be thorough even with supposedly small papers and to familiarize yourself with the literature research, the citation methods and other formalities.

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The right atmosphere for writing is also not unimportant ...

1. Find and narrow down a topic for scientific work

There are usually two and a half scenarios how you come up with your topic. Either it is completely given to you or you can choose it. With the latter, however, you are not always completely free.

If you have some freedom in choosing the topic, you will get some initial tips here.

5 steps to the subject

  1. What is your Cognitive interest? Perhaps there is an unanswered question in the seminar or from your entire course that interests you? This is not entirely unimportant, especially for theses, as you will spend a little more time working here. And interest can provide some motivational help during a frustrating period of writing.
    Also not to be neglected for a thesis: What do you want to do after graduation? Do you already have a special master’s degree in mind? Then choose a thematically appropriate topic. Or would you like to profile yourself as an expert in a subject area (with a cross-eyed look at the job search)?

  2. Go to the bib and find yourself literature on the selected topic (you will find research tips below). Here you can already try to formulate initial questions. A supposedly good topic can turn out to be not very productive or too extensive after an initial literature search. It can also be that (old) sources are difficult to access.

  3. In the third step, try the Questions to check for a machinability and to concretize. Is it precise enough - or is it too spongy? Is there enough literature? And especially for theses: Can the question bring new insights to light or is it too fooled about? Or do you have an exciting perspective on an "old" topic (or a new method)? Your work should also be a bit original - shouldn't it?

  4. Talk to the supervisor about the question. It can make sense to bring a rough outline with you or to send it in advance. In addition, open questions can be discussed, as well as formalities. (Remember that many tutors don't have forever: prepare well for the interview and be aware that there may not be many opportunities to review).

  5. Depending on the course of the conversation, you should now check whether you want to reconsider your topic (and go back to step 2) - or you should start with one detailed outline. Then you would already have all the relevant sub-items and know which sub-topics you have to deal with and which literature you still need.

Literary work vs. empiricism

If you are a pure Literary work write, you should now be able to start intensively evaluating the literature. Would you like to collect data yourself, analyze statistics or go into the field? - So one empirical work write? If you have the free choice of the subject, the specific question and methodology, you should not open a book too late. Anyone who only begins to read the topic, theory and method after the analysis is working “unclean”. According to practical experience, it is difficult to change the structure, the question and the approach.

Once you have been given the topic, go to step 2 and read the topic. Critical stumbling blocks can also arise here with regard to the question. If you think that you have to change this, have a clarifying discussion with your supervisor or client.

In the case of theses, you should never commit yourself to the title and report to the examination office beforehand. Subsequent changes to the topic are usually only possible with a separate application to the examination office.

The two most common mistakes when choosing a topic

  • The subject or question were too little limited and a meaningful answer in the bachelor, master or even seminar paper is almost impossible, due to the time limit and the requirements for the number of pages.

  • The object was trimmed so much, everything to the left and right of it was faded out that it can no longer be discussed meaningfully due to its abstraction.

Resolving these contradicting errors is not always easy - and it is clear that, depending on the semester, “puppy protection” applies here and the requirements usually increase over time. Ideally, this should be remedied by attending a module on scientific work - and consulting the lecturer.

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Language of the thesis

In which language (German, English ...) you have to hand in the thesis is usually specified. Especially if it is not your mother tongue, it can be helpful at the beginning to have the usual phrases / sample sentences correctly in the foreign language. The language portal bab.la offers such a collection in 14 languages: Phrase book for academic writing.


2. Literature research

Often you will receive a with the topic to be worked on Reading list at hand. This list may be sufficient for smaller presentations or term papers. Still, it doesn't hurt to research other sources. At Theses is a further research always required.

Research opportunities

  • Library catalogs
    Various library associations now allow you to search through huge book collections - so you are not limited to what a local search can provide. WorldCat and the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog offer good mega searches.
    Our tip: First try to get an overview of the topic with the local books on offer. In this way you can find out which books you still need through the (paid and time-consuming) interlibrary loan.

  • Subject-specific databases
    Depending on the subject or specialization, there are subject-specific databases. Fellow students or the thesis supervisor should be able to provide more detailed information as to whether this is the case.

  • Review of current trade journals
    The vast majority of journals appear online these days, which has led to an increased speed in the dissemination of current articles. Since many scientists split their findings into many articles, this also leads to an ever-growing mountain. It is not easy for students to keep track of things.

  • Bibliography in relevant articles, monographs and books.

  • Internet

    1. Search engines for scientific sources are, for example, Google Scholar or the Alternative Base Search from Bielefeld, which focuses on German-language work.

    2. You can get statistical figures, for example, from the Federal Statistical Office or Eurostat

    3. In the (commercial) social networks Researchgate (only natural sciences) and academia.edu, many scientists list their articles - some even for download!

Search strategies

The right keywords are crucial when researching the literature. The number of posts found can be

  • ... be very extensive.
    Here you should further specify the request, i.e. use further or more specific terms.

  • ... be very low.
    In this case you should search with synonyms to see if there are references. Otherwise you can use generic terms and see in the hits whether useful information can be expected for the terms you are actually looking for.

Introductory articles / books (e.g. from the literature tips for the seminar or from the supervisor of the thesis) can help to find suitable keywords. It is also advisable to check the keywords that are listed in the literature databases for articles that have already been found and considered relevant.

Trade journals
The supervisor of the thesis knows which specialist journals might offer something suitable on the topic.

Author search
If you have already found articles, it often turns out that certain authors write more often on a specific topic. In this case you can search specifically for further contributions by these authors.

Snowball proceedings
If you have found central articles on a topic, you can do further research using the literature references it contains. In the literature found in this way, there are again references ...

Capture literature

All relevant literature should be in the Research phase be noted. It is best to use the information you will also need for the bibliography as a guide. This directory should be done while writing your own work continuously maintained - in the best case, you can take them over directly into the elaboration.

Work with us from the start Reference management programs and build up a large digital knowledge repository for individual work, your studies and beyond. Also useful: You can use them to link the references while you are writing and, at the end, create the bibliography with one click.

3. Process literature

For seminar papers / term papers, you can assume that the following in particular three requirements for the drafting be asked:

  1. On the basis of the available literature, a (scientific) question is clearly defined and delimited.

  2. A structured outline is created.

  3. The statements are correct in terms of content and are subjected to a critical evaluation.

This is not enough for final theses (Bachelor, Master, Diploma, Magister). This also depends on the quality of the results and new insights that you have gained.

Even if it sounds trivial, usually every type of written elaboration should be a introduction, one Bulk and one Enough (Conclusion / Outlook) included. If the main part is divided into chapters (unavoidable for larger work), you should think about a logical structure as early as possible. More on the set-up formalities in the next article.

Furthermore, the service consists in the correct execution of the content of the individual chapters. This assumes that z. B. Theories or arguments of other authors that are reproduced are really understood. In addition, it must always be clear what these theories or arguments have to do with the topic of your own work. You should have one clear line of reasoning follow. When presenting empirical data, a conscious decision must be made as to which indicators are selected to document certain facts.


4. Which sources use how?

Finding sources is no longer a problem with basic topics these days. But not every source is good. Even if you can't find much on more specific topics, keep the following pointers in mind. Be it to sort out the source, be it to be able to classify the source better - and perhaps even to gain new knowledge from it.

Not all printed literature contributions are necessarily credible - or suitable for your work!

Statements from the literature should not be presented without comment or without reflection (especially for theses). In addition to tested (proven hypotheses), contributions can also contain opinions, evaluations, newly formulated theses, etc. You should also document the importance of these statements in a term paper or term paper.

But how do you recognize the relevance of posts? That can only be decided on a case-by-case basis. If a statement is repeated often (and by recognized scientists), it is certainly more credible than a single reference from an unknown person.

The latter can also mean that it is a new finding that can of course be entirely correct, despite the lack of further evidence or confirmations. However, an exact own examination is necessary. Or you quote with the caveat that the source is uncertain. You should, however, provide at least one argument why it could still be useful.

Literature contributions do not arise in a vacuum of interests or have fallen from heaven!

In order to classify literary contributions, it is important to be clear about the historical and theoretical context in which a publication was made. You should definitely read the foreword and introduction to books and also pay attention to the editors of magazine articles!

Make sure that the literature used is up-to-date!