How-To

SE­MI­NAR AND THE­SIS HOW-TO

The pur­po­se of this page is to pro­vi­de some use­ful hints and tips for wri­ting a se­mi­nar paper or the­sis at the Chair for Sys­tems Se­cu­ri­ty (Sys­S­ec).

TL;DR

While we re­com­mend that you look at every sec­tion on this page, stu­dy­ing every link would be ex­ces­si­ve. Thus, we com­pi­led this list with the most hel­pful re­sour­ces (in our opi­ni­on):


LATEX

LaTeX/TeX is a ty­pe­set­ting sys­tem that is a com­mon stan­dard for wri­ting se­mi­nar pa­pers, the­ses, dis­ser­ta­ti­ons, and con­fe­rence sub­mis­si­ons in com­pu­ter sci­ence re­la­ted sub­jects. We pro­vi­de a tem­pla­te with our logo and pre­fer­red style for se­mi­nars and the­ses:


In case you are not yet fa­mi­li­ar with LaTeX, the fol­lowing links should pro­vi­de you with good star­ting points to learn more about the sys­tem:


STRUC­TU­RE AND WRI­TING

When wri­ting a se­mi­nar paper you have to sum­ma­ri­ze exis­ting li­te­ra­tu­re but are not re­qui­red to pro­du­ce „new“ re­sults, in con­trast to a the­sis where we ex­pect some novel cont­ri­bu­ti­on. Howe­ver, you should still write your se­mi­nar paper in a li­vely and well-struc­tu­red man­ner. The­re­fo­re, most ad­vices for wri­ting good sci­en­ti­fic pa­pers (those with new re­sults) still apply for both a se­mi­nar and the­sis:


In case you want to read a book on the sub­ject you might want to take a look at the fol­lowing ones:


STYLE HINTS AND MOST COM­MON MIS­TA­KES

You should read the style guide The Ele­ments of Style by Strunk since it pro­vi­des a com­pre­hen­si­ve over­view of im­portant style hints and com­mon mis­ta­kes. Fur­ther­mo­re, plea­se take the fol­lowing list of the most com­mon mis­ta­kes into ac­count in order to plea­se your ad­vi­sor’s red pen:

  • Pre­fer ac­tive to pas­si­ve voice
  • Do not treat re­fe­rence as nouns, use them in a pas­si­ve way (for ex­amp­le: „Ri­vest et al. in­tro­du­ced RSA [1]“ vs. „In [1], Ri­vest et al.“)
  • All ta­bles and fi­gu­res have to be re­fe­ren­ced so­mew­he­re in the text and you also need to ex­plain each of them
  • When being part of a re­fe­rence, terms such as „fi­gu­re“, „sec­tion“, or „table“ start with a ca­pi­tal let­ter (e.g., „in Sec­tion xx“, „in Fi­gu­re xx“). Fur­ther­mo­re, add a tilde wi­t­hin the LaTeX do­cu­ment to in­s­ert a non-brea­king space (e.g., „in Fi­gu­re~ref{fig:foo}“).
  • Do not put a comma be­fo­re „that“ (see Comma Rules in English)
  • The words in the title of the paper and the major head­lines all start with a ca­pi­tal let­ter, ex­cept for words like „then“, „and“, or „or“
  • Ad­dress the re­a­der in third per­son (e.g., „as one can see from“)
  • Do not use short, in­for­mal forms like „can’t“ or „don’t“
  • Put a comma be­fo­re and after e.g. or i.e. (for ex­amp­le: „blah blah, e.g., blah“)
  • Avoid foot­no­tes


Many com­mon hints for wri­ting a tech­ni­cal paper are avail­able in the do­cu­ment Sci­en­ti­fic Wri­ting for Com­pu­ter Sci­ence Stu­dents by Hä­mäläi­nen. Our tem­pla­te also pro­vi­des an over­view of the most com­mon mis­ta­kes and you can find some hints in Ger­man in a do­cu­ment pro­vi­ded by TU Ber­lin (Tipps zur An­fer­ti­gung einer Di­plom-, Mas­ter- oder ähn­li­chen Ar­beit).

When in doubt con­cerning the style of your paper, you should take a look at the the­ses and dis­ser­ta­ti­ons pu­blis­hed at the Sys­S­ec chair. They have been writ­ten and ap­pro­ved by ex­pe­ri­en­ced re­se­ar­chers and re­flect the style of wri­ting that your ad­vi­sor will ex­pect.

LI­TE­RA­TU­RE RE­SE­ARCH

One pur­po­se of the se­mi­nar is to teach you how to work with and se­arch for re­le­vant sci­en­ti­fic li­te­ra­tu­re. If you write your the­sis at the chair, we also ex­pect that you se­arch for back­ground li­te­ra­tu­re on your own. In order to ob­tain a quick over­view of re­le­vant li­te­ra­tu­re in your field, you should use sci­en­ti­fic se­arch en­gi­nes and data­ba­ses. This is also hel­pful, as we great­ly en­cou­ra­ge you to use Bib­TeX as li­te­ra­tu­re re­fe­rence ma­nage­ment sys­tem which is sup­por­ted by most sci­en­ti­fic se­arch en­gi­nes. This al­lows the in­stant ge­ne­ra­ti­on of a Bib­TeX entry but we en­cou­ra­ge you to check the re­sult im­me­dia­te­ly as some data­ba­ses have pro­blems with spe­cial cha­rac­ters (e.g., ü,ä,ö). Some use­ful se­arch en­gi­nes and data­ba­ses are:

  • DBLP – Well-main­tained data­ba­se of sci­en­ti­fic pu­bli­ca­ti­ons
  • Goog­le Scho­lar – Great for fin­ding re­le­vant li­te­ra­tu­re, but mi­xed-qua­li­ty Bib­TeX ent­ri­es.
  • Micro­soft Aca­de­mic Se­arch – Si­mi­lar to Goog­le Scho­lar


When se­ar­ching for li­te­ra­tu­re you should also be aware that the qua­li­ty and re­le­van­ce of a sci­en­ti­fic pu­bli­ca­ti­on can great­ly de­pend on the con­fe­rence or jour­nal it is pu­blis­hed in. Your ad­vi­sor will li­kely know re­le­vant re­sults that have been pu­blis­hed at these con­fe­ren­ces and will ex­pect you to in­clu­de them in your se­mi­nar paper. There are even ran­kings for con­fe­ren­ces and re­se­ar­chers that pro­vi­de you with an over­view of the top ve­nues and aut­hors in com­pu­ter se­cu­ri­ty.

CI­TA­TI­ONS

Plea­se use Bib­TeX to ma­na­ge your re­fe­ren­ces. Make yours­elf fa­mi­li­ar with Bib­TeX and the cor­rect way to cite other pa­pers in sci­en­ti­fic work:


In case you are un­su­re or have ques­ti­ons re­la­ted to the cor­rect way to cite other work plea­se con­tact your ad­vi­sor.

LOCAL SUP­PORT

In case you need sup­port when wri­ting your se­mi­nar paper, you may visit the Schreib­zen­trum (Cen­ter for aca­de­mic and sci­en­ti­fic wri­ting) of the Ruhr Uni­ver­si­ty. They offer open con­sul­ting hours, mini work­shops and lon­ger cour­ses. You can also take cour­ses on sci­en­ti­fic wri­ting and ge­ne­ral English les­sons at the Zen­trum für Fremd­spra­chen­aus­bil­dung (ZFA). The cour­ses are of a very high qua­li­ty and should also qua­li­fy as „nicht-tech­ni­sches Wahl­fach“, but they re­qui­re re­gis­te­ring and a test be­fo­re the be­gin­ning of the se­mes­ter.

LINK COLLEC­TIONS

This is a collec­tion of va­rious collec­tions of links (like this one) that may be re­le­vant to you.