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I just finished the first draft of my thesis in computational neuroscience. It contains all the published work and some other material that is relevant to the main theme of the thesis. I deliberately kept some very recent work out of it because I thought it won't add any value to the reader.

Now I am tempted to include this exploratory work into the thesis as well since I've put quite a lot of time on it. This work is an attempt to extend the main results of the thesis. The problem statement is well defined with a good literature survey but no concrete result.

I can probably add to the appendix? Or epilogue (doesn't sound great for a technical document)? Or is it a bad idea altogether?

  • All scientific research is exploratory and incomplete to some degree. – tparker Jan 15 at 4:15
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That may be something to add in a "further work" section as part of the conclusion.

  • Actually "further work" is probably wrong unless the implication is that it is all the work of the OP. But it sounds like it came from the literature review, instead. In that case, "supplementary papers" or similar might be more appropriate. – Buffy Jan 14 at 13:47
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    And, if it is the work of the OP, then "work in progress" might be worth a note. – Buffy Jan 14 at 13:49
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Firstly, talk with your supervisor/professor. Likely it need not be included since you mention it won't add any value to the reader, and this is an important argument. Remember that a thesis needs to read as one piece (not as a concatenation of papers). If it is already sufficiently complete, it does not need to be included. Only if it builds on your thesis' topic and thus strengthens its value, you could still opt for mentioning it as future work in your discussion. However, this is best discussed with your supervisor, since we cannot judge the completeness nor relevance of your recent work.

Don't place it in an appendix, since appendices are best used for additional yet complete and often technical information to support main chapters of the thesis.

Also, don't fear that your recent work will go to waste if you don't mention it. A thesis is not the terminus of a research project. You (usually) have the right to publish your recent work and to extract publications from the thesis even after its completion.

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Including incomplete work is risky: An examiner may find fault with negative consequences, omit your unfinished results.

I deliberately kept some very recent work out of it because I thought it won't add any value to the reader...Now I am tempted to include this exploratory work...since I've put quite a lot of time on it.

You don't believe your recent work adds value, so don't include it. The time you've spent needn't go to waste, you can finish and publish later.

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My advisor always said, "The best thesis is the one on the shelf."

To expand on @SolarMike's answer: "Future Work" may be a good spot for it, but also, be careful. If the core of your thesis is solid (and done!) then focus on refining and finishing that. It's better for your thesis to be a bit shorter but pack a punch, than to have a longer one where you try to fit in everything. (This I know from personal experience...) Don't spend a lot of effort putting unfinished work in a semi-finished form in a non-exactly-published document. That work will be much more valuable as an early postdoc paper. Also, since theses exist in this weird state of publication, there is a (probably small) chance that someone could steal the work, if you provide too many details.

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