Naturalistic Driving Observation for Energetic Optimization and AccidentAvoidance

Guidelines for Writing a Scientific Paper

Writing a thesis provides you with an opportunity to independently and extensively research a topic (compared to usual homework assignments). It also allows you to apply the knowledge you’ve acquired during your academic studies as well as gain experience with the scientific methods required to write a paper.

Finding a topic

To find a suitable thesis topic, you should first think about what interests you (e.g. safety of motor vehicles, alternative drives, ...) and the type of work you are interested in doing (e.g. simulation on the computer, literature research, tests, ...). After this, you can take a look at the thesis topics offered by the academic chair or see if any companies are currently offering opportunities to write a thesis in your subject field.

As a rule, final theses are supervised by a research associate from our academic chair. This means that once you have found a thesis topic, you need to arrange an appointment to discuss further steps and narrow down your topic. IMPORTANT: If you plan to write your thesis externally in a company, you must discuss the topic in advance with a suitable research associate at the academic chair. We do not supervise any theses which were planned without us as we would like and are required to be involved in determining the topic and task. The academic chair is responsible for awarding your final grade. For this reason, it is important that we confirm the task is appropriate.



A research associate from the academic chair supervises your thesis. You will have several meetings with your advisor after choosing your preliminary topic and task. It is particularly important that you present a schedule shortly after you start with the thesis. This allows you and your advisor to compare your progress to your original plans and identify and avoid possible bottlenecks.



Once you have identified a topic, you prepare a 3 to 5-page exposé, briefly describing your topic and approach. After completion you hand it to your supervisor. The exposé is considered a work sample and decides whether or not you will receive your topic.



Apart from the cover page, there are no rules for the design or layout of your paper. If this is your first major scientific work, please speak with your advisor for advice. You can download the cover page as well as standard text blocks here.


Efficient presentation

The golden rule of any final thesis is quality over quantity. This does not mean you should write at little as possible but instead should only include important and meaningful ideas within the scope of the thesis. Basic information which does not directly relate to the task at hand and long experiment reports are not appropriate. It is common for writers to feel the need to highlight work or research which was especially time-intensive, regardless if is actually useful. This is exactly the opposite of writing efficiently and effectively.


Writing style

Scientific writing differs significantly from other writing forms, e.g. writing a report. To orient yourself and improve there are two important things to keep in mind:

  1. Read lots of scientific literature. This helps you get an initial overview of the subject matter as well as how to write. You will soon notice that the more you read, the more you will develop your own writing style.
  2. Identify your weaknesses and seek advice. TU Berlin has developed guidelines for academic writing which you can consult if you have questions about writing.

Please also observe the use of gender-inclusive language pursuant to the guidelines of the Coordinating Office for Women’s Advancement and Gender Equality.


Sources and Internet resources

It is essential that you correctly manage your sources when writing a final thesis. Your bibliography must list all sources you used, including for any images. Further information about how to cite different sources is available here: It is particularly important that you use the same citation style throughout the entire thesis and that the reader can find the corresponding works on the basis of the information you provide.

Internet resources often have a tendency to disappear after some time, because either the site has been redesigned or the content was deleted. If you cite an Internet source, include the date of access in the bibliography as well. It is also helpful if you create a .pdf of the "printed" page from the source.


Helpers - chatGTP & Co

If you use an AI system to assist you in a work step, you are responsible for checking the results for correctness. Tools such as chatGTP do not generate reliable knowledge - their goal is to generate plausible sounding texts. For professional texts there can be a huge difference between " plausible sounding" and "actually correct". Used tools have to be mentioned!



You can submit your work digitally, printing is not required. Please send an email to your examination team with the following information:

  • Name and matriculation number, your degree program
  • your topic
  • thesis as .pdf attachment 
  • Registration in the attachment

In the CC of the mail add your supervisors. If you have additional data (program code, simulation files, etc.) you can exchange them separately, e.g. by sharing a tubCloud folder. Please discuss this with your supervisor.



A confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement is not permitted.



A writing extension is possible. However, it must be approved by your advisor and the examination chair. Extensions are generally only permitted if unforeseen circumstances prevent you from finishing your thesis on time, e.g. delays caused by technical defects or licenses for simulation tools which were temporarily not available.


Final presentation

After submitting your thesis to the Examination Office, you should arrange a date in the Seminar on Current Research Topics in the Field of Driving Behavior Observation together with your advisor. During the seminar you will give a short 20-minute presentation on your thesis – what was your research question, how did you solve the issue and what were the results? Each presentation is followed by about 10 to 15 minutes for questions about the thesis and research field.



Your thesis is graded by the University, i.e. your advisor and Professor Marker. If you wrote your thesis externally, your external advisor can propose a grade, which we will consider but is not binding.


This section is not a complete guide but rather highlights certain points that differ from your usual homework assignments or term papers and are particularly important. Please speak with your advisor if you have any questions.


Determining your scientific/technical problem

Each paper starts with your motivation, thesis, and an explanation of why it is necessary to further explore this topic. Your task is not to work though the problem but rather present your own thoughts on the issue, such as:

  • How does the problem fit into the big picture?
  • What are your expectations regarding a possible solution (thesis)?
  • What would be the benefit of your solution (e.g. increase of security, simplification of a process, creation of new guidelines)?
  • How is the problem solved using the current state of the art and why is it necessary to improve the situation?
  • Which further developments would be possible with your proposed method?


Discussion/critical review

The last part of the final thesis is the discussion of the results. It is also one of the most important. Here you should show your ability to assess your results and evaluate them from a critical perspective. It is helpful to take a few steps back and have a good long look at your motivation: Was your thesis proved to be correct? Which restrictions apply your results? Should further research be done in this area? Which unpredictable difficulties did you encounter? What are the aspects someone using your work should consider to ensure they don’t draw the wrong conclusions? – The quality of your thesis depends largely on the answers to these and similar questions. Even an otherwise very good and extensive thesis loses its value if the results are not put into the correct context and assessed accordingly.


Literature review

A literature review is used to get an overview of the current state of the art, to find out what studies have already been done within the scope of your assignment and what results they provided. However it is also necessary if you are, for instance, applying simplifications and need to state the reasons for this or if assumptions need to be statistically substantiated (e.g. statements on accident occurrences).
For this reason, it is not only necessary to read information on the Internet or in standard works but also to find specialized publications on the topic. It may be helpful to search for conferences related to your area of research to find appropriate publications. The bibliography of every good article also offers additional resources which in turn allow further research on the topic.
You are mistaken if you think you can do your literature review “on the side.” Becoming acquainted with the professional world is an important milestone to be able to assess your problem from multiple points of view and draw the right conclusions. As such, the quality of the literature review in your thesis plays an essential role in the overall assessment and quality of your thesis.



Independence does not only refer to independently conducting the task at hand but, more importantly, independently thinking and developing solutions. Your thesis should demonstrate that you can apply previously acquired knowledge on a specific topic, asses it from different perspectives and that you are able to evaluate the results properly.



You should not underestimate the time required for the individual steps that make up a simulation.

  1. Prior to the simulation, you need to make assumptions for simplification purposes – these need to be justified! Only once you are clear about what you are omitting or simplifying and why, will you be able to evaluate your results correctly.
  2. During the simulation phase you might be surprised by how long even a single simulation can take – depending on the program and complexity this may take up to several minutes or even hours.
  3. After the simulation you must evaluate and scrutinize your results critically! Simulations only allow you to imitate reality to a certain degree. The level of realistic computation depends largely on your assumptions and simplifications. It is necessary to always remain critical of your results: what is possible with your model, what isn’t, what improvements have to be made?



Theses which focus on trials include trials on and with test vehicles (e.g. Vehicle Dynamics, Alternate Drive Systems) as well as experiments on the crash-test facility (Vehicle Safety).

As with simulations, the trial itself is not the important part of your thesis. The core of your scientific work is to work out:

  • which trial should be performed
  • for what purpose and
  • by what means
  • as well as what simplifications are made and
  • which framework conditions should be considered.

You must always justify your assumptions (with the help of sources). After planning you should be able to perform the trial mostly on your own. Subsequently, you must critically examine your results to identify any limitations and which conclusions are applicable. How do the results apply in terms of the initial thesis? What are possible sources of error and how can these be quantified? Which further trials should be done?