Presenting Your Results
You are expected to adhere to specific academic conventions when presenting the results of your research. For students, this applies in particular for (Pro)Seminar papers and presentations, but also for handouts, position papers and protocols. Furthermore, you are also expected to observe general good practice in all your work, such as ensuring that your writing is neatly presented and correctly spelt.
How to structure and write a text has already been discussed in the section on “Writing Academic Texts”.
A (Pro)Seminararbeit should adhere to the following instructions, although your lecturer may add to or adapt them accordingly.
- Title, type and time of the course
- Name of the lecturer
- Title and, when applicable, subtitle of the assignment
- Closing date of submission
- Your name, physical address and email address
- Your degree, major subjects and semester number
The History Department recommends that you use this document as a template for your title page.
Table of Contents
- Clear, logical structure
- As few sub-sections as possible
Introduction (1-1.5 pages)
- Describes your research interests
- Defines and delimits the focus of your investigation
- Discusses the wider context of your topic
- Formulates your research question
- Explains key concepts
- Explains your methodological approach, especially in relation to the secondary literature and sources which you have consulted
- Discusses the current state of research in relation to your topic Outlines the structure of your paper
- Develops your argument
- Incorporates your source and literature analyses
- Structures your topic chronologically and/or thematically
- Provides you with the opportunity to present your own arguments as well as to discuss those of other researchers
- Provides a brief summary
- Provides answers to your research question
- Critically evaluates your research methodology
- Raises questions for further research
Source, Literature and Illustration Lists
- Provide a complete and correctly formatted list of all the literature, sources and images which you have consulted
The critique and evaluation of a written assignment is based on the following criteria:
- Presentation (title page, table of contents, design and readability)
- Source and literature lists (layout and structure, comprehensiveness)
- Correct referencing of sources and literature
- Correct and reasonable use of footnotes and references
- Language (spelling, grammar and punctuation, clear and intelligible mode of expression, correct use of abbreviations, etc.)
- Selection of Research Question, Theory and Methodology: Does the research question make sense? Is it clearly recognisable and precisely formulated? Is it relevant? Does the methodological approach correspond to the research question? Is the investigation theoretically well thought out? Are the categories of analysis compelling and identifiable? Can the sources which have been consulted provide adequate answers to the research question?
- Logic of the Argument, Authorial Expertise: Does the text’s structure and argument correspond to the research question, the focus of the investigation and the methodological approach? Is the investigation seen through to its logical conclusion? Does the text have a central theme running through it? Are the questions which were posed answered thoroughly? Are the analysis and interpretation of findings logically compelling, plausible and free of contradiction? Is evidence provided? Are argument and evidence based rationally and sufficiently on the relevant research literature and related academic debates?
- Have the author’s original aims, the implications of the research question as well as the chosen research methods, sources and theoretical approaches been respected?
- Written Expression and Style: Have the correct technical terms and concepts been used (with sufficient knowledge of their meaning)? Is the text precisely worded?
Presentations are formal oral-visual contributions to a (Pro)Seminar. They often form part of your final course mark. Presentations give you the opportunity to convey your in-depth knowledge of a topic and to surprise your fellow seminar participants with interesting and unusual insights. As the presenter, you are expected to confront a historical research question by condensing your topic into a few key points which will remain in the memory of your audience and stimulate ideas and discussion amongst them. Preparation
1. Conceptualise your presentation
- Define the focus of your investigation, draft a research question, and look for relevant literature and sources
2. Discuss your topic with your lecturer
3. Prepare your presentation
- Plan and carry out your research
- Collate, analyse and discuss your results
- Prepare the oral and visual elements of your presentation
- Integrate all relevant bibliographic data into your presentation and/or handout using a consistent referencing style Complete your handout; print a sufficient number of copies or email it to your lecturer
- Awake your audience’s interest, e.g. with a thought-provoking image or quote
- Identify key question(s) and argument(s)
- Outline the structure of your presentation
- Provide details of relevant secondary literature
2. Main part
- With reference to the literature and sources which you have consulted, discuss and evaluate key questions and arguments. Which questions and issues you choose to engage with will determine the course of your presentation.
- Only discuss background information which your audience must be aware of in order to fully understand your presentation
- If relevant, introduce one of your sources as a brief case study and analyse it in relation to your main questions
- Briefly reflect on the results of your investigation and situate them in their wider context
- Move smoothly on to your discussion section, e.g. by raising a series of relevant open questions
- Give your fellow seminar participants the opportunity to ask you questions on your presentation
- Moderate the discussion by raising further questions and/or referring back to key arguments and/or sources
- Speak clearly and not too quickly. Your audience will be able to follow your presentation better if you speak freely – using only key words as cues – than if you read out a prewritten text.
- Maintain eye contact with your audience
- Arrive at the venue in good time so that you can set up and test any technological equipment which you may need to use during your presentation
During your presentation, you may refer to a number of important concepts, terms, names, events, facts and figures as well as key source and literature references. However, as there is seldom enough time to go through such information in detail during your presentation, it is helpful for your audience if you compile a written handout providing a clear and succinct overview of all this information.
A position paper lists the points or arguments which a presenter or presentation group would like to raise for discussion with the rest of the class. A position paper usually focuses on current and/or controversial debates relating to the presentation topic. A position paper is especially well-suited for kickstarting a class discussion or groupwork project.
What Should be Included in a Handout?
- Concise summary of the presentation’s main claims and content
- Definitions of key terms and concepts
- Biographical information on important historical figures
- Key facts and figures
- Dates of important events
- Bibliographic details of key literature and sources
Minutes, also known as protocols, are chronological accounts of a seminar session and its most important discussion points and conclusions. They are a useful exercise if you are the author, because writing minutes helps you to internalise what you have learnt during the course of the session. For the rest of the class, especially for any absentees, minutes serve as a valuable record of what was discussed. As such, minutes are also very useful for revision purposes, helping students to connect the dots between the different topics discussed over the length of a semester or whole course. Furthermore, they also provide lecturers with valuable feedback on each session.
Detailed minutes provide a blow-by-blow account of a seminar session, sometimes even reporting all the views expressed by individual participants. A results protocol, on the other hand, provides a more concise summary of a session and is often arranged by topic rather than chronology. In practice, however, seminar minutes usually combine elements of both formats.
- Name of the course; title, date and time of the session
- Organisational information and list of assigned tasks
- Important comments relating to the previous session’s minutes
- Content covered during the session: summary of the session’s main topics and discussion points; brief summary of the presentations; key points from the subsequent discussions; summary of important findings and unanswered questions
- If appropriate, the author can include his/her own critical comments
- Details of any documents pertaining to the session
- Bibliographic details of relevant literature and sources