Templates & Instructions
How do I find a topic for my course work or thesis? How do I find helpful literature? And what should the finished work look like?
Writing a scientific paper involves more than just writing the text. On this page you will find an overview of all questions related to the preparation and writing of scientific papers.
The most important things in a nutshell
- Find a topic you enjoy and discuss it with your tutor beforehand.
- Read and quote relevant specialist literature.
- Select specific quotations and reference all your sources.
- Look out for formal guidelines and give your text a clear structure.
The expert tips of the GRIN editorial team
We have also collected our best tips and tricks in two e-books for you:
Finding a topic
With these steps you can easily find your own research question for your assignment. First, the topic of your seminar limits possible areas and, at the same time, it can be a good starting point.
- Which topics were discussed?
- Which topics were you interested in the most?
- Are you personally interested in a topic of the seminar?
- Were there any presentations that you found particularly intriguing?
- Was there, perhaps, a particular hypothesis that you would like to examine more closely?
The answers to these questions already provide you with a direction for your paper. Asking yourself similar questions can also help you write the final paper:
- Which courses or seminars did you find particularly interesting?
- Which lecturer inspired you during your studies?
- Did you write any papers that you would like to develop further?
In addition, the GRIN shop gives you an insight into the topics and questions from other students from your field.
At the beginning of a seminar, you will often receive a bibliography which includes compulsory reading and provides a good starting point for your literature research. Before you start researching, you should at least have one meeting with your instructor. Such a meeting can also be used to ask your lecturer for literature tips – especially if there is no bibliography given to the seminar.
Tip: Usually it is not necessary to read the entire work or the entire text. For an initial orientation, a glance at the table of contents is often enough to find the relevant chapters.
In the subsequent literature research, you have several options:
A library catalog lists all the works you can find in the respective library.
With search engines like Google, Bing, etc., you will find many sources that fit the topic you are looking for. The publications in the GRIN shop can also help you find inspiration for your own work or draw your attention to interesting literature.
In a newspaper archive you will find many sources, especially for historical and social topics.
In the so-called "snowball system", you look for other authors within the literature listed in the footnotes or in the bibliography.
Certain institutions often publish free literature lists, which specifically fit a topic.
Many universities issue indices, which containing newly acquired books and publications.
Online, you will find various databases such as Google Scholar, WorldCat or the Electronic Journal Library ECB, which contain essays, studies, etc.
The formatting of a scientific paper
A scientific paper always consists of the same elements:
- Table of contents
- Main Body
- If necessary, Appendix
Basics of scientific writing
The foundation of a scientific text is the conclusive and comprehensible justification of the hypothesis and the arguments.
- The research question should always be considered throughout the whole text.
- The reasoning should be systematic and logical.
- The work must always be put into persepective of current state of research.
- You must first give definitions to key terms so that they can form a basis for further the development of your paper.
Important: You must provide sufficient evidence for any hypothesis you propose in your text. In addition, direct quotations or paraphrasing are possible. In both cases, you must reference a source.
Scientific papers are written in the present tense. When writing a scientific paper, you should avoid colloquial expressions or implicit evaluations.