In a master's thesis in psychology, in which section should I introduce the control variables used in analyses?

The rationale for the inclusion of control variables in my study was based on prior research. But I think introducing them in state of research is too prominent and substantively, should be more methodical. Is the section of analyses plan a good choice or is referencing other studies there for the rationale of inclusion a no-go?

1 Answer 1


Before I retired I was a statistical consultant to grad students. I've seen a lot of dissertations from a lot of different universities.

Different schools and departments have different sections, but the following are kind of usual (maybe by other names):

  1. Intro/literature review (sometimes one section, sometimes two) (I think this is what you are calling "state of research")
  2. Method
  3. Results
  4. Discussion/conclusion (sometimes one section, sometimes two)

I think you should introduce the control variables either in the intro or certainly in the literature review. You use those sections to tell your readers a) What you are doing b) Why you are doing it and c) What others have done.

Then, in method, you should describe how these variables (and all the variables) are operationalized. That is, you tell readers how you got values for them, in enough detail that they could, if they wanted, go out and duplicate your research. . I wouldn't worry about "prominence". You can make them less prominent by writing less about them, or by making clear that they are only control variables. Also, while I am a fan of clear writing even in academia, a dissertation is not a novel. The emphasis should be on presenting the content in the approved manner.

  • Thank you very much, your post clarified a lot!
    – Madamadam
    Commented May 12 at 9:09

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