Context: I'm in an interdisciplinary field -- Computational Social Science -- and therefore my dissertation will be drawing on theory, empirical findings, and methods from at least four different disciplines. My dissertation topic is "Institutional Innovation Based on New Knowledge". Many terms have no settled meaning even within a single discipline, and many terms have definitions of my choosing, to suit the scope and purposes of my dissertation.

I'm using LaTex packages for glossary and hyperlinks so that all glossary terms get highlighted hyperlinks when they first appear in each chapter.

My question: should I aim for a minimalist glossary where only the most technical, obscure, central, or controversial terms get defined, or a comprehensive glossary that aims to define all important terms.

My aim is to make it easy for readers (mostly my committee), especially so that they won't waste time either trying to find my definitions or spend too much time reading/checking my definitions. Most of all I don't want them assuming that I'm misusing terms or that I haven't adequately defined them.

I'm not concerned about the extra workload of completing a comprehensive glossary. I'm good at this sort of task and it helps me as I write the body of each chapter -- I don't have to keep defining terms or reminding readers of my definition.

The downside of a comprehensive glossary is page count. I'll guess that it will add 20 or 25 pages. I don't want to "bloat" the dissertation any more than necessary.

1 Answer 1


If you think it will improve the usefulness of the thesis, and it isn't too much trouble for you, then I'd say by all means go for it.

I would not worry about page count. I don't think anyone cares how long the thesis is.

  • Thanks! I've actually heard and read comments by professors that they do care about length if it makes the reviewing process more difficult. But I suppose this has to do more with an overly-broad scope or too many digressions, and not to subsidiary sections like glossary. Jun 17, 2014 at 22:46

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