I'm writing the introduction to my Ph.D. thesis in theoretical physics. It is fairly interdisciplinary sandwich thesis. I have already written a Background section were I write some of the necessary background knowledge necessary to the motivations and the context of the paper. So I am left with writing a shortish introduction section. Can this section be written in 1st person, explaining why I find this work interesting and why I was led to work in this specific area?

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    Why would you want to do it? Just to fill space?
    – Buffy
    Oct 28, 2021 at 13:37

2 Answers 2


Can this section be written in 1st person, explaining why I find this work interesting and why I was led to work in this specific area?

No, you should instead explain why your reader (an imaginary physicist with knowledge of your field but without expertise in your specific topic) should find this work interesting, and how the current state of research led you to work on your research question.

Leave the subjective and biographical remarks about your personal motivation for the preface (if any) and acknowledgement section.


For any reader interested in your results, that would just be noise that gets in the way. Something they need to scan over to reach what you really need to say.

I'd recommend against this and suggest you keep to the topic. A shortish introduction might be a good thing, actually.

Those kinds of personal stories are something that might go in a blog or on a personal website. Keep the thesis (and other professional writing) strictly professional - at least until you have built a solid standing in your career.

  • Right, I do want to keep it short. The idea is to provide motivation to want to read the thesis, as well as providing a concise map of the various parts of the thesis and how they fit together
    – Andrea
    Oct 28, 2021 at 13:43
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    The thesis isn't about you. It is about physics. The map of the parts is physics. The motivation is just you. My recommendation is to keep it strictly professional. A word or two in your public defense might be appropriate, but I'd leave it out of the written work.
    – Buffy
    Oct 28, 2021 at 13:46
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    You may write to clear your lines of thought, as e.g., summarizing a publication you just read, recapitulation of a theory, preparing the next experiment in the lab; a tool useful (within reason) for yourself. When writing a thesis, you address the community of your subject; your aim is to advance the discussion for the benefit of the community. Then, an autobiographical writing/journalist-like report style that there are 20 books in your shelf, though perhaps both novel and original, likely is not a suitable tool. The two writings aim different targets/purposes and must differ.
    – Buttonwood
    Oct 29, 2021 at 6:22
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    @Andrea It sounds callous, but the reader is not interested in the path of how you came to your research. I recommend writing this section in first person and then keeping it aside, for yourself, not as part of your thesis. That way you can scratch the itch of writing such a section, but you avoid adding clutter to the thesis. If you come up with useful things while writing it, then by all means include the relevant details in your thesis. Oct 29, 2021 at 12:48

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