The Credit Seminar

Dr. Tom V. Mathew

16 October 2008



Credit seminar has two objectives:-to test the technical skills and the communication skills. The research skill is tested by the student's ability to study the given topic and arrive at potential research topics. The communication skills test includes both written and oral communication.

Research Skill

The student needs to study the topic and present the finding in a technical report. This report can be ideally organized as follows:


In this chapter, the subject is to be introduced first. Here, the focus is on informing the reader the context of the topic, its relevance, and the importance of the study. The objective and scope section are then to be added, based on the need for the study. The objective is one long sentence that describes what is expected from the study. The scope will highlight various steps that are to be adopted to achieve the objective. The student may often list the topics outside the purview of the study. Normally this chapter ends with a brief overview of how the study is organized.


The next logical step is to give sufficient background to the topic. This is normally taken from standard text books or from some good review papers submitted in refereed journals


This chapter covers a detailed and critical review of the papers published in the last 20 years, preferably within 10 years. A handful of good journal papers is to be identified and the key modeling issues, formulation, contribution, and more importantly the limitations are to be studied. The solution methodology, derivations and details of case study may be excluded. This chapter should, preferably, be ended with a section summarizing the key inferences derived from the review.

Case study

Pick up a recent good journal publication which covers one research study. This paper may be studied in detail, especially the methodology, or problem formulation and solution methodology. This chapter should highlight your ability to understand in-depth a research idea.


A typical conclusion chapter should have three broad sections-summary of the work done by the student, conclusions of the study, and scope for further work. The scope should clearly list out a few possibilities of research.


This should contain all the details of the reference material. The list should ideally contain a list of basic books on the topic, journal papers, a few conference papers, a few technical reports, and very few web references. All the references should e listed properly according to some standard format(preferably Harvard style). Whatever the student have cited should be referred and whatever is refereed should be cited.


Abstract should be normally of a maximum of two pages. This should give an idea regarding the contents of the report. The purpose of the abstract is that the reader should get an adequate idea without going through the entire report.

Make the Presentation

Tips for making Presentation
  1. First estimate the time available for your presentation. Plan the presentation for the time available. However, more often, you may be asked to cut down your time by even half. Rarely may you be asked to expand your time also. Be prepared.
  2. Based on the time available, plan how many slides you may require. Too many slides are distracting. On the other hand very few slides are also distracting. Ideally, in my opinion, you should spend at least 30 seconds, and not more than 2 minutes on a slide.
  3. Do not cram too much text in a slide. The idea of slide is not as a substitute to your talk. On the contrary, it is aimed at keeping the listener focused and arouse curiosity and expectation. Therefore, providing full sentences and long texts are not advised. Your audience should spend only about 10 seconds to read a slide. Then they will be eager to listen to you.
  4. It is a good practice to give slide number and total number of slides in the footer. This will help your audience to pinpoint a slide number during the discussion time at the end of the presentation.
  5. If you type your own equation tabulate tables, and draw figures, this will give a good impression about you.
  6. It is preferable to use Aerial font or Sans-serif font which gives a better appearance and visibility. You may either use a white background with dark letter or dark background with bright letter; but not the combination. For example, if you are using black background and you have many figures with white background will cause considerable eye strain. Either use white background or use some picture editing tools to make them transparent.
  7. Practice makes perfection. Finish your presentation few days before. First practice it loudly when you are alone in the room. Then present it before few or your close friend and ask them to give critical feedback.

Delievering the presentation

  1. Dress well; formal or semi-formal
  2. Talk loudly and slowly
  3. Avoid monotonous talk. Undulations will help the audience to keep focused
  4. Look to to audience. Do not keep looking at one or two person. A good presenter will scan the audience regularly.
  5. Do not look always on the slide. If you simply read the slides, it indicates you are not confident.
  6. It is a good idea to depart from what is written on the slide and use your own words to speak.
  7. Dont switch back-and-forth the slide.
  8. Pause between new slides
  9. Avoid Fancy slide transition.

Useful links

  1. ASCE Reference Style
  2. Chemical IITB
  3. Gymkhana IITB
  4. Aero IITB

Prof. Tom V. Mathew 2008-10-16