Seminar How-to

The purpose of this page is to provide some useful hints and tips for writing a seminar/term paper at the chair for embedded security (EMSEC).

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 (can be found on the seminar page) with our logo and preferred style for seminar and diploma theses. Some Latex tutorials are:

  • Diploma thesis with Latex (german) - Link
  • Latex Tutorial - Link

Structure and Writing

When writing a seminar paper you have to summarize existing literature but are not required to produce "new" results. However, you should still write in a lively and well-structured manner. Therefore, most advices for writing good scientific papers (those with new results) still apply:

  • How to write a paper (cryptography) - Link
  • Writing Clear Conference Submissions - Link
  • How to write a great research paper - Link
  • How to write a paper (general) - Link

Most Common Mistakes and Style Hints

Here is a short list of the most common mistakes you should avoid in order to please your advisor’s red pen:

  • Do not put a comma before "that" - See Link
  • When being part of a reference, figure or section start with a capital letter (e.g., in Section xx, in Figure xx).
  • All tables and figures have to be referenced somewhere in the text together with an explanation
  • 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
  • Do not address the reader in third person (e.g., "as one can see from ..."). Use the "we"-form and include yourself and the reader.
  • Do not make excessive use of passive constructs; try to use active instead.
  • Do not use short forms like "can't" or "don't"
  • Put a comma before and after e.g. or i.e. (blah blah, e.g., blah)
You can find more hints on spelling and orthography here:
  • Tipps zur Anfertigung einer Diplom-, Master- oder ähnlichen Arbeit - Link
Information on correct citations:
  • Richtig referenzieren (mit Bibtex) - Link
When in doubt concerning the style of your paper, you may also have a look at the dissertations published at the EMSEC 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. In order to get a quick overview you should use literature 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 literature 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). For Google scholar you have to set BibTex as your default bibliography management system (http://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/help.html). Some databases are:

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. For our seminar, some of the most relevant conferences are arguably CHES, Eurocrypt and Crypto and your adviser 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.

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, should also qualify as “nicht technisches Wahlfach” but require registering and a test before the beginning of the semester. There is also a lecture in the winter semester covering scientific writing with Latex.

Examples

Here is one example how a good and well-structured seminar paper may look like.

The IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy has recently introduced a Systematization of Knowledge track for papers that do not provide novel results but evaluate, systematize, and contextualize existing knowledge. This is much like a seminar paper and you may have a look at the structure and presentation of these papers. The systematization papers are listed in the conference program of each year’s revision of the symposium. One example with participation from Bochum is Mobile Security Catching Up? Revealing the Nuts and Bolts of the Security of Mobile Devices.

Link collections

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

  • Advice on Research and Writing - Link
  • Scientific Writing - Link
  • Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University - Link