I have seen that students have two ways to write their thesis,

  1. They have a separate chapter to write an introduction to their thesis. This chapter usually consists of a literature review of their research topic.
  2. They have an introduction section at the beginning of each chapter and they write a separate introduction to each chapter and they don't have any introduction chapter for literature review.

Also, I have seen such behaviour in references part;

  1. some prefer that each chapter having its own references part;
  2. some other prefer all the references come at the end of the thesis report.

Could you please help me know which of these are standard and if any official guide to each exists, I will be happy to know and read them.


Thanks to the answers to this question of mine, I read the writing guide for masters thesis at my university and consulted my question with my advisor, and looked at the previously submitted theses, I wrote the introduction and literature review of my thesis in the very first chapter exactly after printing the abstract of my thesis and brought all the references at the very end just before the final page of my thesis.

  • 8
    How did your advisor answer this question?
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 13:22
  • @JeffE I wrote my thesis report draft and brought all the literature in a separate chapter and all the references in the end of my thesis. Previous students also did such thing and the previous thesises looked like this method. My advisor also liked the way I wrote it.
    – enthu
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 12:38
  • 1
    For what it's worth, when I was writing my BS thesis I went to the library and looked at a bunch of MS theses, picked one that seemed especially clear, and took notes on how it was organized. Advisor was suitably impressed by the result.
    – keshlam
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 22:43

3 Answers 3


You mix up two things: Thesis introduction and Chapter introduction.

From what I observe, every thesis has to have an introduction. It makes sense after all: You need to introduce the topic of the thesis etc. You can't simply start a math thesis by Theorem. For all X ... -- you need to start somewhere, and that's the thesis introduction.

The chapter introduction is a nice thing to do, and there are more options. It can be a short text before the first section, a separate section, some people even provide short (3-or-so-sentence) abstracts to each chapter. However, this is mostly part of your writing style, and it can't be so much enforced (well, it can, but that is IMHO ridiculous).

As for references, there should be guidelines for them. If there's no, then I advise to include full list of references at the very end, since that's what people expect by default, but it's only an advice, not a rule.

  • Thank you so much for the answer and introducing the very good idea of having an abstract to each chapter. I did not use this idea of having separate abstracts, but it was interesting indeed to hear about it.
    – enthu
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 9:56

Standards and common practices vary widely between fields, regions, and institutions. There are no general rules or official guides.

If it is similar to what previous students have done, your advisor says it is okay, and it doesn't violate any style guide that your university may have, it is fine.

(This answer applies to a lot of the "thesis style" questions we've seen recently on this site.)


Well, I think there is no specific answer as if which is the "best" way of writing the Introduction chapter. I believe it boils down to preference. Sometimes it is possible to have both of them.

I prefer,having an introduction chapter which talks about the topic overall and provides the basics to the reader, and then for each chapter you provide an introduction paragraph or section which tell the reader what is going to be solved in that chapter of the thesis.

However, in most of the universities i.e. research groups, the student gets a template which he has to respect when writing the thesis. It is rather interesting that you have the freedom to choose that what type of template you will use for your own thesis.

In any case before you start wasting time on considering which template you should choose, make sure that the research group where you will be writing your thesis does not provide a thesis template of its own.


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