Guidelines for Writing a Seminar Paper

  1. Scope
  • What to hand in:
    • Always: One digital copy (PDF)
    • Always: All data and clearly documented executable scripts that allow us to replicate every result that is your own work (i.e. raw data, R/Matlab/Stata/Excel files, etc.)
    • Always: All your Internet sources, like working papers or blog posts (PDF)
  • Formal Guidelines
  • Paper size: DIN A4
    • Margins: top and bottom: 3cm each, left: 6cm, right: 2cm
    • Font: Times New Roman, 12pt (for footnotes and captions: 10pt), justified formatting
    • Line-spacing: 1.5 (footnotes and captions: 1.0)
    • Footnotes and formulas should be numbered continuously
    • Tables and figures should be numbered continuously, labeled and integrated in the text
  • Literature
  • Clearly mark every line of thought that is not your own as a citation by either
    • using footnotes, e.g., “Cf. Gneezy et al. (2003), p. 822.” or
    • using in-text citations, e.g., “… (Rouwenhorst, 1998, pp. 277-279).”
    • Use your own words when you describe others’ lines of thought! It is not enough to exchange single words or change the order of the original sentence. It is also not enough to simply translate a source from a foreign language (for example English to German).
    • Be consistent with your citation style.
    • Indicate the page(s) which you are citing from.
    • Direct (literal) quotes must start and end in quotation marks and should be used scarcely!
    • All cited references must appear in the References section at the end of the paper.
    • Examples:
      • For journal articles: Bernheim, B. D., Shleifer, A., and Summers, L. H. (1985). “The Strategic Bequest Motive,” Journal of Political Economy, 93(6), 1045-1076.
      • For working papers: Daniel, K., and Moskowitz, T. (2013). “Momentum Crashes,”

Working Paper.

  • For Books: Friedman, M. (1957). A Theory of the Consumption Function. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
    • For articles in collections: DeBondt, W. F. M., and Thaler, R. H. (1995). “Financial

decision-making in markets and firms: A behavioral perspective,” in Jarrow, R. A., Maksimovic, V., and Ziemba, W. T. (eds.): Handbooks in Operations Research and Management Science, Vol. 9, 385-410. North Holland, Amsterdam.

  • Content
  • The golden thread (line of thought, “roter Faden”) is the key to a good paper! Make sure the reader always understands what you are writing and why you are writing it.
    • Every sentence counts! The purpose of each sentence should be comprehensible. Only write

things that help answer your research question. Do not digress. Be concise.

  • Every claim needs justification! Do not claim things or assume they are self-evident. Justify and, if possible, cite sources that support your claim. If available, also cite contrasting opinions and reason why you side with what position.
    • A critical discussion of the literature is essential! Do not just recite uncommented positions from the literature.
    • Avoid long and complicated sentences and use simple, understandable language.
    • Include figures and tables in the main text. Only put them in the appendix if they are supplementary. Long mathematical derivations also go in the appendix.
    • Add a caption to each table and figure which explains all variables and acronyms appearing

in the table/figure. It should be possible to understand tables and figures without going back to the main text.

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