Recommendations for Master and PhD Theses


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General comments

  • Use a clearly defined structure of the manuscripts (e.g. abstract, introduction, methods, results, conclusions, bibliography,...).
  • The conclusions section is probably the most important part.
  • Introduction should include:
    • review of the state of the art referencing relevant literature,
    • objectives and motivation of your work.
  • The manuscript should also be understandable by scientists outside of your immediate field of research.
  • It should be clear what you have done and what your colleagues have contributed to your work.
  • Do not use a model or a tool (e.g. DIVA, Dineof, ROMS...) as a black box and give sufficiently details to describe them (possibly including equations, parameter values, relevant citations...).
  • Do not neglect the interpretation and validation of your results.
  • Data providers (satellite, in situ, etc) should be properly acknowledged and cited.
  • The manuscript should contain enough details so that your results can be reproduced. Avoid vague or ambiguous language.


  • All axis should have labels (including units) for the x- and y-axis.
  • Figures should have legends (including units).
  • Labels should be large enough to be read on a A4 paper. In Matlab, use command
  • All figures and tables should be referenced in the manuscript and adequately discussed.


  • Statements and findings that do not come from your own research should include a reference to the original article.
  • Avoid citation of "grey" literature (i.e. unpublished reports, web pages, ...) and use peer-reviewed research articles and books instead.
  • Bibliography should be uniform and complete.
  • Never cut and paste text from another source except for short citations (clearly labelled as such).
  • For LaTex user, it is recommended to use natbib and BibTeX.

Common problems with BibTeX:

  • Double-check capitals in your title. Use two curly braces to preserve uppercase letters:

title = {{Four-dimensional ensemble Kalman filtering}},

  • Double-check special characters (e.g. ø, é, ä, …). Use either LaTeX commands (Alvera-Azc\'{a}rate) or the package inputenc (\usepackage[ansinew]{inputenc}).
  • If you copy/paste references, check the dash (-), apostrophe ( ' ) or words containing fi, ff, ... as these characters may be wrongly interpreted in LaTeX.

Oral presentation

  • Use sufficiently large fonts.
  • Check the readability of the text on a screen before the presentation.
  • Check the size of the illustrations.
  • Use well contrasted colors (e.g., black text on white background). On some projectors green is quite pale.
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