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Here is more context:

  • I understand that I have to stick to the point and so on, but I'm not asking if you think it's a good idea or not, so I beg you to spare me the lecture. I would like your advice to do it in the best way possible.
  • My research domain is software engineering.
  • The reason for wanting to include a non-technical passage is that I want to point to other fields in which nature-based design (i.e. biomimicry) has led researchers astray such as architecture for example. Another subject I want to approach is patent law, so I would ask the same question for that.

Of course, the main thrust of my thesis is technical, but I firmly believe that some information about the surroundings of the subject is important, because the subject of my thesis is about the use of improper methodology in a subfield of computational sciences, so it does fall under the category of meta-methodology.

Thank you all for your input. It is much appreciated.

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  • Is biomimicry and architecture at all relevant to your research or not? If it is just a side tangent (aka rant), then it is not a good idea. If it is an example that applies directly to your work, perhaps.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 28, 2020 at 14:07
  • @JonCuster Unfortunaly for my idealistic self, I feel like it falls in the "crazy rant" category
    – Ia Nick
    Aug 28, 2020 at 14:44

2 Answers 2

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An excellent doctoral thesis in software engineering must have passages of non-technical thought, the more the better. Such passages make the work accessible. Of course, technical aspects must appear to. The non-technical passages complement the technical aspects, the former provides the story of how the latter came to be.


To explicitly answer your question: Non-technical parts aren't off-topic, include them wherever necessary, just like technical parts, I don't see a need to explicitly distinguish between the two, the author will know.

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The short answer is: know where to place them how.

Generally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with non-technical content in even the most technical or abstract context. On the contrary transferring technical or abstract matter into a concrete, intuitive issue is a sign of deep understanding and versatile thinking IF it leads the reader to a deeper, more intuitive understanding of the matter and does not lead astray or confuse. So such matters need to be embedded smartly and always with a reader's point of view in mind, then they are great. They can easily become self-serving rambling, then it is the worst thing to read.

To be more concrete: Prime locations for such information are

  1. the end of the paper during an outlook/wrapup where you take your topic and findings, review it and transform to a less abstract subject to enhance clarity and understanding.
  2. Somewhere middle/end of part 2 of the work, during the scoping of the topic to clarify the topic at hand after which you talk about the problem-solving approach referencing both the technical and non-technical view.
  3. After defining the solution approach to clarify that.

Again the important thing is a deep relation between the technical and non-technical parts with a clear connection and references. If references from one part to the other are hard to write, its probably going off-topic and not relevant.

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