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Usually preface is written in books and myself personally have not seen it in a thesis.

But, can a master's or doctoral thesis contain a preface?

Thanks

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    There are no universal rules for what can or can't go in a thesis. Your institution might have rules, however. – Nate Eldredge Feb 21 '18 at 6:33
  • my institute has no prescribed thesis format – pkj Feb 21 '18 at 6:36
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    Is there anything you want to put into the preface, but you don't want to write in the introduction chapter? – scaaahu Feb 21 '18 at 6:43
  • yes, there are a few things, which in my opinion are not suitable for introduction or abstract – pkj Feb 21 '18 at 7:03
  • As long as your advisor okay with it, I think you can, in my opinion. – scaaahu Feb 21 '18 at 7:07
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Note: This was going to be a comment, but then I realized it actually answers the question that was asked.

The following 2004 Ph.D. dissertation at Utrecht University has a preface on pp. xi-xviii, so the answer is YES.

Ideas and Explorations : Brouwer's Road to Intuitionism

However, the question you possibly want answered is whether a Ph.D. dissertation at YOUR university can have a preface. To find the answer, you can ask someone knowledgeable about the specific dissertation format rules at your university, or you could visit the library shelves where recent Ph.D. dissertations are shelved and spend 20-30 minutes quickly flipping through the first few pages of the 100-200 most recent dissertations, keeping in mind that for some universities the answer might be department-specific.

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It's your work, so unless there are rules to the opposite, I would say go ahead. Many theses contain acknowledgments in a preface, for example -- most of the time thanking real people, but sometimes also their dog, a brewery, or imagined events. Read through enough theses and you will get the idea.

So, see whether there are rules, and if there are none talk to your adviser what is appropriate. Beyond that, you're the author and decide how best you want to say what you want to say.

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