I am doing my master's in Software Engineering at a German university. I had been told that the seminar presentation influences the final grade more than the contents of the seminar paper.

But the irony is I work more for the contents of the paper (about 2 months) than the presentation (about 5 days). Why is it so?

FYI, I constantly discuss with my supervisor (who decides the grade) regarding my progress and incorporate his comments as well.

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    The paper could be prepared with external help, either legit (your advisor) or not (your friend or some external freelancer). The presentation is a testament on whether your material is yours, how well you understand and how well you can present it. All these skills are very important in the research workflow. – Alexandros Jun 30 '16 at 13:34
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    Shouldn't you address this question to the people who created this policy? How are random people on the Internet supposed to know what their reasons were? – Nate Eldredge Jun 30 '16 at 13:39
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    @NateEldredge Well, if a policy is widespread in a country, or in different countries, the reasons might be known to many. – Massimo Ortolano Jun 30 '16 at 13:40
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    The is no country-wide rule on this, and often, splitting the percentages is the decision of the individual professors/lecturers. There are even some that don't need the paper version. Because the seminar talk is supposed to be partly interactive, it is also much more well-suited to determine whether you actually understood the material - which may be a motivation for this rule. – DCTLib Jun 30 '16 at 13:48
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    Imagine giving the presentation without spending the two months writing the paper. Could you still prepare it in 5 days? – Patricia Shanahan Jun 30 '16 at 14:31

Presentations generally involve a discussion with the panel, questions from the audience, and even heated debates. Papers present the research and can absolutely give an impression of the knowledge of the writer, however, it can be easy to hide behind a paper. You can't hide in a presentation. It becomes quickly, and sometimes painfully, obvious in a presentation when the researcher has not fully developed their work.

Also, very few people will take the time to read the paper, but there's a good chance that quite a few people will attend the presentation. How well you present your work will reflect the quality of the work in the eyes of the audience. It might be outstanding research, but if you can't present it well and your message is lost, the work will be shrugged off.

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In one sentence: Apparently, the primary objective of the seminar is for students to learn professionally presenting information related to their field.

This presentation involves both an oral and a written part. Among these, it is arguably the oral part where you can commit many more mistakes that the seminar can address. Mistakes in the written part, beside very general stylistic conventions, often depend on individual styleguides, are pure language issues (and thus beyond the scope of university courses - language majors excluded), or depend a lot on individual circumstances thatbmay or may not be the case in a text written by a student. This supports putting more weight on the oral part.

That does not mean that the contents of documents is generally unimportant, just that it is not in the focus of that particular seminar course. Of course, students are still given topics from their field, and there are several reasons for this:

  • Presumeably, it is one general topic that can be assumed to be interesting for all students in the seminar (adduming they all have the same major).
  • In case there are any peculiarities when presenting information in the given field, these are best conveyed/highlighted/discovered by presenting on-topic information.
  • while students may be assigned different concrete topics, referring to the same field makes the talks at least remotely comparable in terms of style of information presentation.

On top of that, your task probably requires even a bit of thinking rather than just gathering existing information - if only to make the task not as dull for you, and maybe also to reduce the probability to find a ready-made solution that exactly fits your particular topic. Still, the task is probably still not highly creative as such (at least I would not consider the development of a totally new technique a suitable topic for such a seminar, or anything else that is not mostly a "routine" task in the respective field). Much of the work you spent was likely spent on tasks such as literature analysis, which should help structure the information for both the written and the oral parts alike.

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