How to Write a Scientific Paper
Parts of the introduction are:
- An introduction to allow the reader an insight into the theme of the paper (avoid unnecessary
- One paragraph on your objectives and your question: First you point out what the paper will
be about and which theme you will deal with. Next you need your precise research question.
(For your Master’s Thesis you may also formulate one main question and one or two
secondary questions). When formulating the questions you should be guided by the following
questions: What is my goal in writing this paper? What do I want to find out? Which
arguments will I include in my argumentation? Which examples (e.g. countries, theoretical
concepts etc.) will I include to answer my question?
- In the last paragraph of the introduction you should give an overview over the different
chapters: chapter 1 deals with… 2 to 3 sentences on each chapter are sufficient.
1.2 Body: From Description to Analysis
The following questions are meant to support analytic reflection:
- Which consequences does condition x have for whom?
- Which consequences does condition x have and on which levels?
- How can condition x be explained?
- These questions will also help you if you quote. You should comment on your
quotations and integrate them into your argumentation.
- Is it possible to establish a relationship between facts or conditions or to compare
them? Might it be possible to establish a relationship between the past and the present
or between different countries or programs or to compare them?
- Is it possible to look at the situation from different points of view?
- What is the argumentation of author x and what is the argumentation of author y? How
do the different authors complement each other and in which way do their opinions
and argumentations differ? It is important to refer to more than one author in every
- What is your own opinion? Do you agree with the authors?
- Sometimes it is difficult to form an opinion. You should try to give your opinion at the
end of each bigger paragraph and at the end of each chapter. One or two sentences are
sufficient. Precisely: How do you assess what you wrote before? You are free to
confirm, to question, to explain or to compare.
1.3 Connecting the different chapters
The different chapters should relate to one another. Transitional sentences help to create a
smooth transition between the different chapters.
It is important to refer to the contents of previous chapters. You should follow a line of
reasoning. Explain this line of reasoning to the reader. Do not expect the reader to search for
your line of reasoning.
1.4 Conclusion/Résumé/Closing Words
Conclusions are very individual. This means that you have a lot of freedom formulating your
own closing words. You should, however, try to think of the following aspects when writing
- Coordinate your introduction and your conclusion: It is important that the introduction and
the conclusion fit together well. In your introduction you explained the objectives of your
investigation. In your conclusion, on the other hand, you explain what you really investigated
in the end, you explain the results of your investigation and you explain which conclusions
you drew from these results. It is recommended to remind the reader of the central question in
- Sum up your main arguments: It is important to sum up the main arguments of all chapters
concisely. It is important not to introduce completely new arguments in your conclusion. An
exception from this would be an outlook (suggestions for further research). The conclusion
gives you the opportunity to elaborate on important connections between the different
- Explain your own opinion/position: The body of your paper gave you the opportunity to
evaluate literature. You were expected to position yourself in the research discussion. In the
final part of your paper you should try to concisely present your own opinion. Discuss the
different aspects and facets of your topic. You are free to either find critical arguments or to
make a positive judgement. This depends on your own opinion.
Try to refer to the starting point of your paper in your final words. Creativity plays an
important role in this process.
2. Approaches to Scientific Writing
2.1 Quotations, References and Bibliography
Handling sources correctly is central to scientific writing.
- When ideas/facts etc. originate from literature, you have to identify the source (author, year).
This is also necessary if you did not quote word by word.
- Include references at least after each paragraph (author, year). If the argumentation is your
own, this is, of course, unnecessary.
- You may choose whether you want to incorporate your references into the text or whether
you want to add footnotes. Possibilities: (author year: page) or (author, year, page).
- Try to paraphrase long quotations. Sum them up in your own words.
- Quotation marks become necessary when you quote word by word. Insert author, year and
page number directly after the sentence you quoted (author, year, page). If you quote only part
of a sentence you have to do the same thing.
- The title of a book/article is not part of the reference but part of the bibliography.
- If you give numerical data, you have to add the reference (author year, page) at the end of
- If you quote an author who was quoted in another book, you have to make this clear. For
example: (author X year, quoted in author Y S. xy). If you do not do this, and instead just
mention author x as your source, the reader will think that you read author x. In this case
author x would have to appear in your bibliography.
Since you did your own literary research, you should not quote quotations too often.
- If you use internet sources you have to mention the complete link including the date, e.g.
- General pages as, for example, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hauptseite, do not qualify as
scientific literature. Therefore you cannot quote them.
- Your bibliography has to include all references from your text. Do not include references in
your bibliography which did not appear in your text.
- You are only allowed to include references in your bibliography which you have read
Why are references necessary?
1. Without a reference, the reader would not know whether what you wrote is your own
opinion/argumentation or whether it is that of author x.
2. Should you quote without references, you can be accused of plagiarism.
- The maximum number of words of your written papers should be plus/minus 10%.
- Single quotations (consisting of several sentences or lines) are not counted. Incomplete
sentences and single words are counted.
- The cover should include the following information:
Name, first name, address, e-mail or telephone number
FU Berlin, Faculty of Educational Science and Psychology, European Master in Intercultural
Name of the teacher/expert
Number of the module and the title and the number of the class
Title of the paper
Number of words.
- A table of contents and a bibliography need to be part of every written paper. If necessary a
bibliography of charts and pictures should be added.