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 style.

Written report

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 at

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 recommendations:

  • W. Strunk, E. B. White: The Elements of Style, 4th Edition, Longman, 2000
    Electronic edition
  • George Orwell: Politics and the English Language, Essay, 1946.
    Electronic edition
  • Lyn Dupré: BUGS in Writing: A Guide to Debugging Your Prose, Addison-Wesley, 1998

Of course, there are as well excellent tips talormade especially for the preparation of seminar talks and reports, among them: