I am writing a paper in theoretical computer science about two closely related problems A and B and a variant of A which I call A'. I am now planning to order the results as follows:

  1. Solution to problem A
  2. Solution to problem A'
  3. Note that solution for A' implies a solution for B (very short)
  4. Same techniques as in point 2 give a direct solution to problem B
  5. Different techniques give slightly weaker results for problem B in different model

Now, the problem is that point 5 is one of the main contributions of the paper, while point 4 is more "for completeness" than because it would be very important (as I already got a solution to B in point 3). I still really think point 4 should be included. If it makes any difference, the paper will be slightly under 30 pages.

I am worried that people will get to point 4, realize that it is not so interesting, and stop reading there. Or they will see points 1,2, will not be interested and stop reading, even if point 5 would be interesting for them. Am I right to be worried? What should I do to prevent this? What do I say in the intro to make sure people read point 5? Or is it that people interested in point 5 will see it in the abstract and then it does not matter at all what the ordering is? Or should I re-order the things despite other orderings being less natural?

  • 4
    I can only speak for myself, but if I come accross a paper that seems to be interesting (according to title and abstract), I rarely read the whole paper, but directly jump to the section that is most relevant for my work (and decide from there if I also need to look at the rest). So it would not matter at all to me in which order the diffferent points were appearing in the text.
    – Sursula
    Jun 2, 2021 at 11:16
  • 5
    You know you can just tell readers that, right? In the introduction, write, "The primary contribution of this paper is in section 5, but preliminary results are reported before then..." Something like that. Jun 2, 2021 at 16:35
  • @transitionsynthesis, yes, but it's a good comment. I wasn't sure whether it is sufficient or whether I should start of with the important stuff. Jun 2, 2021 at 17:04
  • Your thesis statement is item 5: your technique is superior to other techniques used. IMO, this is what you start with. Then (for me anyway) items 1 through 4 are "experiments" with results proving your thesis...
    – gns100
    Jun 2, 2021 at 22:53

2 Answers 2


Build the paper according to its inner logic. But you can announce/tease the main result in the abstract and the introduction/motivation, so people will know what to look for/await.

  • 1
    Thank you! I will wait a little if anyone has anything else to say and will accept this answer after. Jun 2, 2021 at 11:23
  • 4
    +1. Write the introduction so that the reader knows the most important result. Then interested readers will not stop after 4, and uninterested readers will not waste their time reading 1, 2, 3, and 4.
    – GEdgar
    Jun 2, 2021 at 11:42

Most readers will decide if the paper interests them or not before they get through the abstract. Express the motivation as early as possible. Then write the technical part in an easy-to-undersand format.

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