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For writing scientific texts like bachelor or master thesis I have learned and used the following basic structure:

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. State of research
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Conclusions

I am currently writing my master thesis in computer science where I am developing an algorithm/workflow for a specific validation use case. For similar but more general use cases there already exist methods to do this validation. But for my specific use case those methods can not be used because they do not consider various needed regulations to achieve a reasonable result.

Basically this is my argumentation in my current introduction after talking about the more general background and where the underlying problem derives. I give a very brief overview of state of research (i.e. the already available methods and why they can not be used). After this argumentation as a reason I propose my research question and main research goals.

Now to the actual question: One of my supervisors does not like me mentioning things related to the state of research and (in my opinion) obvious technical terms in the introduction. Instead he wants me to do a more general introduction (without explaining the problem in details) and use a structure like the following for my introduction:

  1. Basic problem
  2. State of research (shall be discussed with focus on missing applicability for my use case)
  3. Research question and goals (as a result of 2.)

This really irritates me because I always discussed the state of research later on after giving basic theoretical backgrounds needed for understanding (this would not be possible when mentioning state of research in the introduction). I also do not think that generalizing the problem so much that it is not needed to use basic technical terms when defining the research question is useful at all.

I am really confused how to structure my thesis so that I can write an non "babble" introduction but also satisfy my supervisor. Can anyone help?

  • 2
    I would read your supervisor's papers and see how your supervisor structures the introductions. I would then adapt my style to match my supervisor. If you think your supervisor's writing style is "babble", your thesis writing will likely be a painful process for you. – Richard Erickson Sep 20 '18 at 14:09
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General background is a normal component of a thesis, typically more so than in research papers in the field.

You should follow your supervisor's advice for two reasons:

  1. They are an expert in your field, and you (should have) chose them as a supervisor for this reason. If you don't value their opinion, you have made a serious error in making them your supervisor.

  2. They will be evaluating your work and will be the one (or part of a small group) deciding whether your thesis is acceptable.

This really irritates me because I always discussed the state of research later on after giving basic theoretical backgrounds needed for understanding (this would not be possible when mentioning state of research in the introduction)

This statement makes absolutely no sense to me. This sounds like exactly what your supervisor is recommending: giving basic backgrounds, then discussing the current state of research.

I also do not think that generalizing the problem so much that it is not needed to use basic technical terms when defining the research question is useful at all.

This might be your opinion, but it seems like your supervisor wants your thesis to be at least somewhat readable by someone not intimately connected to your field. That's pretty typical advice in an academic context, especially in a thesis.

  • Unfortunately I think you missed my point a little - probably because it is hard to explain my predicament in a few sentences. My supervisor wants me do state of research straight after the introduction. This is difficult without using technical terms or explaining background before. Nevertheless I managed to find a tradeoff where I a paraphrase technical terms (kinda like in a lot of papers). I want to make clear that I indeed value my supervisors opinion. Otherwise I wouldn't have asked for their advice and I wouldn't have asked here for how to implement it. – conste Oct 7 '18 at 9:19

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