General Notes on Our Seminars
The best know-how is useless if you cannot communicate it accordingly.
Seminars generally serve the goal of learning techniques to present scientific
work. Hence they are an excellent preparation for the bachelor or master
thesis, and later for the dissertation.
Familiarize with a topic
In order to get familiar with a new topic, you have certainly to
investigate the literature in that area at first. In our seminars, we
give a starting point with our recommendations. However, the recommended
literature should usually not form the exclusive contents of your presentation.
We expect that you further investigate for your own. The knowledge on the
different possibilities of finding and obtaining literature is substantial
for scientific work.
When searching for further literature, you might consider the bibliography
of the recommended articles. Besides that you can browse through the internet
and search in the keyword catalogs of the library. An excellent source to
find publications is CiteSeer.
Moreover, you can find a very extensive bibliography of the most
important journals and conference volumes in computer science with the DBLP search service.
However, please always remind that the literature investigation will
seldomly terminate by itself. Hence it is important to concentrate on the
relevant articles and neglect sources, which treat only certain partial
aspects of the topic.
- Note regarding our literature recommendations
- If we recommend literature, we also guarantee that it available to
our students. In no case, it is necessary to buy expensive books. However
we expect from our students that they can find the indicated references
for themselves. Should that lead to large problems in an individual case,
the tutor will certainly help.
Preparation for the topic
Right from the beginning, when familiarizing with the topic, you should
classify and arrange within the topic what you have read. That will help you
later on to define the exact scope of your talk or written report. Then you
have to quickly find out the key information of the different articles,
gather it, and form a whole and coherent picture from it. When doing so,
you have, for instance, to adapt the terminology from different sources in
order to form a uniform term world, or to mark and compare different schools,
approaches and opinions.
At the end, you should have worked out a detailed outline of your talk
(resp. the written report). If necessary, keywords might further describe
the contents of the different items. From the outline, you can quite good
estimate the amount of the collected material. Moreover does the outline
help in case of unsureness to agree with the tutor on the exact contents
and emphasis of the talk. Finally, it is much easier to prepare report and
slides with the help of an outline.
- Note on terminology
- Computer science is a recent and emerging science. Hence there might
sometimes be several terms in use for the same thing in literature. However,
it is not acceptable to find different notions for one and the same thing
in a single document.
You should give the talk in free speech (do not just read the text from a
manuscript). Nevertheless, we strongly encourage you to use (animated) slides.
On the one hand, they might aid the audience to follow your explanations; on
the other hand the slides can serve you as a reminder during the presentation.
However, the slides should only contain short and concise keywords. Is is
most boring to listen to a talk that is just read out. Try to use figures
and examples wherever possible and explain them verbally. A short leaflet
as reminder might be helpful as long as it is concise enough not to distract
the free speech.
Especially with the spoken work it is hard for the audience to keep up
with you. Hence it is very important to guide the listeners through the talk.
Otherwise, the talk will appear as a loose collection of incoherent facts.
All used notions and shortcuts have to be introduced. However, prevent by
any means a long enumeration of definitions at the beginning of your talk.
You will certainly leave the audience with the impression, you would read
out from a glossary! Instead, introduce only the most central terminology
at the beginning. Further notions can be defined just before you use them.
In this way you will less stress the memory of your listeners, too.
Only if you give a talk, you will find out whether you succeed. Therefore,
we recommend that you give a preliminary talk to some friends—this
is by the way the best possibility to realisitcally estimate the duration.
Here you should reserve ca. 25% for questions and discussion.
- Technical note
- An excellent possibility to prepare slides with LaTeX offers the class
Beamer. (However, slides may
be prepared with any other program as well, of course! Just make sure that
a suitable viewer is available if you do not use your own laptop.)
- Note on the layout of figures
- Especially on presentations, figures are very helpful for illustration.
However, you should carefully prepare your figures. Show only what you will
explain in your talk. Draw diagrams and schemata in a vector graphics format to
avoid pixel effects. Do not paste figures from cited literature
sources unchanged into your slides. Such a habit indicates laziness and a bad
The written report should have a clear structure. As in every document,
there should be a short introduction, the actual body, and a summary. However,
these parts might consist of multiple sections. Furthermore, a continuous
thread should lead through the whole document, and short bridging paragraphs
should guide the reader from section to section. Of course, it is necessary to
introduce all notions and shortcuts before they are used just as in the talk.
In your report, you should give an overview on the topic. The report
should be self contained; the reader should be able to understand the
document without studying the recommended literature. Moreover, you should
question whether the notations of the used literature is really optimal.
Dare to clarify and simplify where possible. The notations of different
souces have to be adaped anyway, and even if there is only one source,
a change is advisable if it is easier to understand.
Figures and tables
Tables and Figures should be floating elements. Do not tie them on a
specific place in the text because that whould lead to strange effects in text
formatting. Instead, you should number figures and tables and supply them with
a descriptive caption. You should explicitly refer to each table and each
figure. Sometimes, there might even be multiple references to the same figure
or table. A table or figure that is not referenced, however, is needless.
Usually, figures should be commented. Do not expect that reader might guess,
what you mean by arrows, circles or boxes – explain it.
Please make sure that the entries in the bibliography of your written
report are complete. Every publication has for instance an author and
a title, mostly there is a publisher and a year of publication. The use
of BibTeX might be very
helpful, here. Some (German) general notes on bibliographies can be found
- We do read the reports of our students, hence we ask you to
make our work not unnecessarily hard. The fundamental reason for a standardized
orthography was readability. Nowadays it is very easy to avoid typing errors
by a spell checker. Furthermore, complete and grammatically correct sentences
aid sometimes tremendously in understanding.
- Naturally, your report has to have a title and your name on it. The
pages should be numbered. Moreover, we expect margins of at least 2.5 cm.
Otherwise there is just no space for corrections. Do not leave pages half
blank. It looks as if you would try to advance your page count. In books, a
new chapter will usually start on a new page. However, this is unusual for
short articles like your written report.
Recommended Literature and Links
Scientific publication is a well-known problem. Hence, there are many books
written to overcome that problem. We will only list a few classic
- W. Strunk, E. B. White: The Elements of Style, 4th Edition,
- George Orwell: Politics and the English Language, Essay, 1946.
- Lyn Dupré: BUGS in Writing: A Guide to Debugging Your Prose,
Of course, there are as well excellent tips talormade especially for the
preparation of seminar talks and reports, among them: