Tips for the thesis


Final research papers in engineering range from concrete technical applications to more theoretical topics. In any case they should demonstrate that their author has the ability to work on a chosen task independently, scientifically and methodologically within a limited period of time.

  • First, make a detailed plan, in which you consider the opening hours of the workplaces you go to, as well as the availability of your supervisor. It is also important not to over-charge and set clear short-term deadlines.
  • Be aware of your time management: in order to control the time factor, it is essential to plan the thesis by formulating realistic goals . You should create a concrete plan, which has to be discussed with the supervisor as well. It is certainly helpful to schedule certain time buffers and check from time to time if the schedule works for you. Disturbances and distractions should be avoided as well as unclear goals or overloading your schedule.
  • It may  be helpful to consult with fellow students who are either working within a similar time frame or on a related topic.
  • Break your thesis into defined stages: collection of ideas, project phase, data analysis, writing and polishing.
  • According to experience, the greatest level of stress comes towards the end of your project. Plan as few other activities as possible around this time, so that you can meet your submission deadline.

  • Remember to work independently and taking into account the deadlines so that your supervisor can rely on you.
  • Let your supervisor always know what the status of your work is.
  • Let him/her know early on if you are struggling with a certain task. Although your supervisor cannot do the work for you they can help you with useful tips and hints on how to solve your problem.

  • Once you have chosen your topic, you can start to research the resource material to get an overview of the current status of your topic.
  • You must consider which concrete questions you would like to answer in your thesis and which methods you will apply. Once you have those questions, the university library database or search engines (like Google Scholar) are extremely helpful.
  • Set a clear deadline in your working plan for completing your initial research.

  • By using an electronic organization system (Citavi etc., the RRZE offers courses) for organizing your sources, you can gain the best overview of the material you have read. Please ask your supervisor which citation style you should use. In any case it is crucial that you stick to one citation system.
  • It is important that your organize your sources (articles, quotes, etc.) as you go through the writing process.

  • In order not feel overwhelmed by too many tasks a good outline is crucial.
  • Your outline should be clear, well-structured and comprehensible for the reader and supervisor. A good outline is an important foundation for good advising. On the basis of your outline, you can discuss your specific questions, the structure, and length of your thesis with your supervisor.
  • Remember to always write down your acquired knowledge/results!

  • One of the hardest tasks when writing your thesis is correct citation. You must indicate the source of every idea that is not your own and every fact on which you have based your argument.
  • A literal quote (direct quote) must be referenced.
  • Paraphrases (indirect quotes) also have to be referenced.
  • A list of all citations (direct and indirect quotation), tables and graphs must be included in the source of your bibliography.
  • Recommendation: indicate all citations and enter their sources in your bibliography or reference list as you draft your thesis.

  • Save your data when you stop writing at the end of day or when you finish a task.
  • Always back up your data on various storage media!

  • Always keep in mind to your initial questions during the writing phase. It can easily happen that you get off the track.
  • Format your thesis according to the requirements of your supervising lab. Many labs will provide you with a template.
  • Allow sufficient time for proofreading. At best, look for someone (friends, family, fellow students, ..) who is willing to take a close look at your work.

Check that all references as well as the format and form of the work are correct. LaTex could be more helpful than Word. Alternatively, you can also find courses offered by the RRZE for scientific work with Word.

  •  Remember that your work must be submitted to your supervisor on time, in one hardcopy version and one digital version (PDF document) on a storage device.