Structure, organisation, and writing tips

Structure

The thesis should usually consist of the following main parts:

0) Title page (title, your name and contact information, abstract, keywords, JEL classification), before this title page you should place the official thesis title page (use these templates).

A table of contents should follow the title page on the next page. There is no need for a list of tables / figures.

1) Introduction (Motivation, what you do in your thesis, your results, literature review and how you contribute to the literature). The page numbers should start with 1 for the first page of the introduction.

2) Data

3) Empirical strategy

4) Results (this section can be split into various subsections e.g. 'Baseline results', 'Robustness checks', and 'Further results')

5) Conclusion

References, Figures, and Tables should be positioned after the body of the text. Figures and Tables should be on separate pages and be self explanatory; for that, you need to write a figure / table caption that is explaining the figure/table. The number of tables is typically 6-10 and the number of figures is 0-3. As seen in the two examples, there is no need to have a list of abbreviations or any other items that can be found in more traditional thesis formats. Make sure that you put all cited papers/ books etc. into your list of references and that the list of references does not include any content that you do not cite in your thesis. Verify carefully that you use a consistent way of referencing (see the two working papers as a template on how to cite and build a list of references). 

Ex. #1      Ex. #2

The total length of the student thesis (including title page, text body, references, figures and tables) should be 40-50 pages. BSc theses should rather target the lower bound, while MSc theses should target the upper bound. Additional results/ programming code / detailed data descriptions etc. can be placed in an Appendix. Use these templates for the official title page and the mandatory declaration.

Note that student theses that are written with an industry partner may have a different structure catering the industry partner's preferences. 

 

Requirements and further information

Note that all Master theses need to be written in English, while Bachelor theses can also be written in German. In addition, we strongly recommend to avoid using passive voice. Have a look into these great writing tips. Most of the recommendations also apply to a student thesis.

Use Google Scholar or SSRN to search for related literature. You need a sufficient number of references (> 20 for Bachelor theses and > 30 for Master theses); look for top quality academic journals (e.g., see the Handelsblatt journal ranking). You can access these journals at Ulm University (or via VPN from elsewhere). It is also very important to discuss your contribution to the literature. 

Don't add new material to your thesis until the deadline. Try to finish the main writing until two weeks before the deadline. Spent substantial time on reading your thesis several times (run the Spelling and Grammar check!) and try to receive feedback from fellow students, friends and colleagues. Avoid to hand in an unpolished thesis that is hard to read and full of typos and wired grammar.

Do not forget to regularly perform a backup! Use external an hard drive and a cloud service provider (such as Dropbox / Google Drive). On the external hard drive, you should mirror the complete computer in order to be able to start immediately from scratch with all of your programs and data in case your computer breaks down. 

We aim to provide critical feedback while you are writing your thesis at our institute. We concentrate on the general research design and in helping you to define interesting and suitable analyses. Thus, we recommend you to meet your supervisor after you have put together first key results. Please note: due to capacity constraints we cannot guarantee feedback to intermediate versions of your thesis.

Once you officially submitted your thesis (see: http://www.uni-ulm.de/studium/pruefungsverwaltung/pruefungen-und-module-faq.html), we require you to provide us with (failing to do so will result in a weaker grade!):

  1. all raw data files that you used for your thesis
  2. commented data/analysis (Stata do) files or other files (e.g., Excel) that you used for your empirical analysis; the raw data and Stata do files will help us in checking your final results.
  3.  all cited references (you can exclude those that are not available as PDF files, such as textbooks)
  4. Put the files for points 2 to 4 into one zip file; all raw files into the folder "raw; all processed data files into the folder "proc"; all Stata code / Excel files etc. into folder "program"; references into the folder "literature". Burn a CD / DVD that you hand in at or sent to our Institute before the deadline; alternatively, you can add the CD / DVD to the hard copies that you hand in to the "Studiensekretariat" (Office of the Registrar / Examination Office). If you are not able to burn a CD / DVD, you can also use a USB thumb stick or provide the data via a Dropbox Link.
  5. Send a PDF version of the final version by email to Professor Guettler (and any doctoral student who may have been involved in supervising your thesis).
  6. statutory declarations

For selected theses we provide Laptops with a Stata installation for the time of the thesis (if capacity allows). You should also make yourself familiar with Stata before starting with your thesis (e.g., www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/ provides great tutorials, movies, web-books etc.).

We also highly recommend ALL Master students to take the course Research in Finance that is usually offered in winter terms. It will provide necessary knowledge on how to build up a data set for your analysis and on how to perform your own empirical analysis (descriptive statistics and cross sectional and panel regression analyses). This course may seem like a lot of hard work for the given credit points but it is a great investment for the upcoming master thesis and the many points you earn for the thesis.