Department of Information Technology

Writing a term paper

An outline and organization of a paper can be done in several ways depending on the topic and approach. Two common approaches are:

  • Compare different strategies, methods or implementations of proposals presented by different articles and authors, e.g., compare three operating systems for sensor nodes, or four different mobile ad-hoc network routing protocols with respect to performance and complexity.
  • Detailed review and survey of a very specific area, e.g., energy efficiency in wireless sensor networks.

Take a standpoint to the articles and discuss your own view in relation to the articles. For example, if you believe that reactive ad-hoc routing protocols are better than proactive ones - select a couple articles supporting your belief and a couple challenging it and relate them to your view. You should strive for a narrow focus and an in-depth treatment of the topic instead of a broad focus and superficial study.


The size of the term paper should be around 15-20 pages for a two person team and around 25-35 pages for a four member team.

The paper should start with an "abstract" with at most 150 words (a short introductory summary that describes the content of the paper). The idea with an abstract is that the prospective reader of the paper should get an idea what the paper is about and the main results. In the introduction, that follows the abstract, you should give the background, the problem you will write about or the approach, the method and the main results. The articles you base the papers on are probably good models on how a paper could be structured. The paper should be concluded with a summary with your own conclusions and a reference list.

Number of reference articles

Your paper must be based on at least six different articles on the selected topic (Similar articles by the same authors will be counted as one, e.g., sometimes a journal article is a mere extension of the authors' conference paper, in which case the papers will be counted as one). For teams with four members there must be at least sixteen articles.


Chose one topic within the seminar areas. Use list of topics as inspiration. In case you have another favorite topic outside the areas you always wanted to study, then contact the course instructor for approval and recommendations before you start. It is OK that two teams write about the same topic, but in that case contact the instructor responsible for your paper for a discussion of different approaches on the topic for the groups. After you decided a topic, please submit before the deadline with your name and group members. If you can not find others interested in your topic, then fill in your interest and we will try to match it with other students.


You should preferably use articles from well-known conferences and scientific journals. If you are unsure whether the article is "good enough" - send us an email inquiring about its quality. Include in the email the title, authors, and where the article was published (journal/conference/URL). The articles published by the professional organizations IEEE and ACM are normally of decent quality, although some general magazine articles, in for example Communications of ACM and IEEE Spectrum, could be too high-level. You can also use text books in the area as a reference. The books are also a good source of references for scientific papers in the area.

Web based articles

You may also find some useful articles on the Web, but if they are not published in a professional conference or journal, you should definitely discuss them with the instructors. In general, html-articles on the web are too shallow for this course. They can be good as a starting point, especially summaries on Wikipedia. Use the references instead in these articles that are more in-depth. The quality of your paper will be measured in your ability to understand in-depth papers and to draw conclusions from them.

Digital Library access

The university has access to IEEE and ACMs digital libraries. Many ACM and IEEE articles are often made available on the web, often accessable via the homepages of the authors. It is common to search on the authors of a paper. Another good search engine is citeseer.

Here are some journals and magazines where you will find more easily readable articles.

  • IEEE Communications Magazine
  • IEEE Network
  • IEEE Internetworking
  • IEEE Computer
  • IEEE Concurrency
  • ACM Computing Surveys

Here are some journals with more difficult and less accessible publications, aimed for researchers in the area:

  • ACM Mobile Networks and Applications
  • IEEE Transactions on Communications
  • IEEE Journal of Selected Areas in Communication
  • ACM Wireless Networks
  • IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
  • ACM Operating Systems Review
  • ACM Computer Communication Review

Here are some conferences with papers usually geared towards researchers and specialists in the area:

  • ACM MobiCom
  • ACM Mobisys
  • ACM MobiHoc
  • IEEE Infocom
  • IEEE GlobeCom

The conferences and journals listed above are only a few examples and you should not limit yourself to them.

Updated  2011-02-18 10:01:11 by Per Gunningberg.