How to write a thesis with IRGroup

The IRGroup welcomes Bachelor and Master students to write their thesis with us. We know that this is your first (bigger) scientific work and that you might have many questions. We compiled a workflow that should guide you through the process. This workflow does not include all the official rules and steps you have to take. Please check the official requirements that are specific to your study program beforehand.

1. Find a thesis topics

Look at the official list of open topics and find a good topic that fits your interests and expertise. If you would like to modify the topic, or would like to suggest your own topic, please notify us in the next step. Your own topic ideas must be aligned to one of the research projects in our group to ensure that one of the researchers can co-advise the thesis. In addition, you can check other theses that were published in our group in PubLIS Cologne.

2. Contact thesis advisor

Contact the thesis advisors to talk about details by using the mail template.

German template

Sehr geehrte Frau ABC / Sehr geehrter Herr XYZ,

ich habe mir die Themenangebote auf Ihrer Arbeitsgruppenwebseite angesehen und interessiere mich für eines davon. Ich habe mir die Richtlinien und den generellen Ablauf einer Abschlussarbeit auf Ihrer Webseite ( gelesen und verstanden.

Ihr Name: 
Thema: (Titel von der Themenliste)
Studiengang: [DIS|BDK|DS]
Art der Arbeit: [Bachelorarbeit|Masterarbeit]
Geplanter Starttermin: 
Beschreibung des Thema in Ihren eigenen Worten: 
Relevante Veranstaltungen zum Thema, die Sie besucht haben:
Drei Terminvorschläge für ein Auftaktgespräch (30 min):

English template

Dear Ms. ABC / Dear Mr. XYZ,

I have looked at the topics offered on your website, and I am interested in one of them. Furthermore, I have read and understood the guidelines and general procedure for a thesis on your thesis FAQ website (

Your name: 
Topic: (title from the list of topics)
Study program: [DIS|BDK|DS]
Type of thesis: [Bachelor thesis|Master thesis]
Planned start date: 
Description of the topic in your own words: 
Relevant courses on the topic that you have attended:
Three proposed dates for a kick-off meeting (30 min):

3. Proposal

After the initial contact using the mail template and clarifying your first questions, please compile a thesis proposal (approximately three pages total). The proposal aims to specify the main elements of your thesis work BEFORE the actual work on the thesis starts and to clarify open questions beforehand. We want you to concentrate on the real thesis work once the topic and the details are fixed. The proposal should contain the following elements:

  • Title
  • Your name and study program
  • Problem description and research motivation (What problem is there to solve? Why is it relevant?)
  • Related work (What other academic works exist that try to solve (parts of) the previously described research problem? Search in scientific databases like ACM digital library, SemanticScholar, dblp, … - Don’t rely on Blog posts from Medium, etc.)
  • Methods and data (What research methods do you plan to use and why? Are there any data sets you would like to use? Do you create your own data sets? Do you need special software?)
  • Research Questions (What concrete questions do you like to answer and how?)
  • Schedule (Week-based schedule for the whole thesis period, including tasks and milestones. Include a minimum of 2 meetings with your advisor in the schedule and describe what you plan to discuss in these meetings)
  • List of references

4. Official registration

After the student and advisor agree on the proposal details, start the official thesis registration process. Check the official guidelines for your study program for details.

5. Thesis work

Work on your thesis. Plan regular meetings with your advisors. We suggest a minimum of 2 meetings before the submission.

5.1 Writing Consultation of the Academic Writing Center

Many students struggle to put their knowledge and findings on paper. This is often due to a lack of training or knowledge about strategies for topic definition and literature review, outlining and red thread, scientific style, or proper editing.

The personal writing consultation of the Academic Writing Center offers support to all students of TH Köln in questions related to academic writing. This can refer to the appropriate scientific style, professional structure, comprehensible argumentation, and questions of the correct handling of sources.

Take advantage of this help!

5.2 Word and Latex Templates

The Institute’s current guidance on writing academic papers can be found here.

Templates for Word and Latex can be found on the pages of the TH (Under the section ‘Downloads’).

5.3 Literature management

Especially for literature work, we recommend using a literature management program. Zotero is free, open-source and offers these advantages:

  • an easy collection of literature from internet databases like SemanticSchoolar (using browser plugins).
  • sorting, filtering, linking, creating notes and keywords
  • correct citation in the text and automatic creation of the bibliography (using plugins for Word, Libreoffice and Google Docs)

6. Submission

Ready to submit? Document and store your CODE in a GitHub repository and DATASETS in Zenodo and register a DOI for the dataset. Read the official guidelines for the submission from your study program.

7. Grading of the final papers

We base the evaluation of the thesis on a general scheme that is based on five different criteria:

  • Knowledge and skills (15%)
  • Systematics and scientificity (15%)
  • Initiative and commitment, independence (20%)
  • Quality of the results (30%)
  • Presentation of the results (20%)

The evaluation scheme can be downloaded as an EXCEL spreadsheet: evaluation scheme.xlsx

8. Publication of thesis (optional)

After submission: Think about publishing the results in a paper. Check student-friendly conferences like LWDA, BTW, ISI, …)